Afrikaan Beat And Other Favorites (1962)
Bert Kaempfert And His Orchestra

  1. Afrikaan Beat (Bert Kaempfert)
  2. Dancing In The Dark (Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz)
  3. Moonglow (Will Hudson/Eddie DeLange/Irving Mills)
  4. Where Flamingos Fly (Elthea/John Benson Brooks/Harold Courlander)
  5. Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish)
  6. Pony Violins (Helmut Brüsewitz)
  7. Solitude (Duke Ellington/Eddie DeLange/Irving Mills)
  8. Cherokee (Ray Noble)
  9. Trumpet In The Night (Bert Kaempfert/Milt Gabler)
  10. Where Or When (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart)
  11. Bert’s Tune (Bert Kaempfert/Bernd Bertie)
  12. Just As Much As Ever (Charles Singleton/Larry Coleman)
    Bonus Tracks
  13. Golden Wings In The Sun (Bert Kaempfert)
  14. Cinderella After Midnight (Bert Kaempfert/Helmut Brüsewitz)

Trumpet solos by Charly Tabor

1 – 12 issued as Decca DL 4273 (mono) and Decca DL 74273 (stereo)
1 issued in Europe on A SWINGIN’ SAFARI, Polydor LPHM 46 384 (mono) and Polydor SLPHM 237 584 (stereo)
2 issued in Europe on DANCING IN WONDERLAND, Polydor LPHM 46 370 (mono) and Polydor SLPHM 237 570 (stereo)
3, 4, 5, 7, 10 and 12 issued in Europe on DREAMING IN WONDERLAND, Polydor 46 398 (mono) and Polydor 237 598 (stereo)
6 and 8 issued in Europe on LIVING IT UP!, Polydor LPHM 46 399 (mono) and Polydor SLPHM 237 599 (stereo)
1 issued on single Decca 31350
13 and 14 issued as single Decca 31420

[T]he hauntingly beautiful Wonderland by Night…has been followed by a bright succession of Kaempfert hits – the most recent of which, and perhaps the most significant being the title song of this album, Afrikaan Beat. An original Kaempfert composition, Afrikaan Beat – with its brilliant trumpet passages and beautiful intrusion of massed strings – represents one of the most rhythmically exciting and melodically imaginative sounds ever conceived by Mr. Kaempfert, or anyone else on the scene today.

Upon the release of the single “Afrikaan Beat,” Billboard reported: “‘Afrikaan Beat’ is an exotic instrumental theme, featuring an unusual instrumental treatment. ‘Echo in the Night’ is an attractive instrumental item with a pretty melody. Both sides are strong, but ‘Afrikaan Beat’ has the edge.” Listeners agreed.

“Afrikaan Beat” is a marvelous piece of music: as playful, clever and fun as it is exotic, accessible and universal. The song remains – to this day – loved by listeners and musicians alike. It remains among Bert Kaempfert’s best-known songs. While its appearance coincided almost exactly with The Tokens’ doo-wop hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” Kaempfert’s original likely informed Henry Mancini’s equally delightful “Baby Elephant Walk” the following year.

(For the record, the spelling of the song’s title likely refers to the “Afrikaans” language, an official language of South Africa, derived from the form of Dutch brought to the Cape by Protestant settlers in the 17th century.)

“I met some friends in the southern part of Switzerland,” Kaempfert recalled in an interview years later, “and they had an album from South Africa with some original music on it with the pennywhistles, I think they call it. I was so excited about this music; it couldn’t go out of my head. So, I wrote ‘Afrikaan Beat’ and I remember it was number four in the South African hit parade.”

Likely caught off guard by the surprising ascent of “Afrikaan Beat” on the American charts, Decca scrambled to put together an album in support of Bert Kaempfert’s spunky new sound. For his part, Kaempfert was likely unprepared to record a full album so quickly.

The bandleader provided several new pieces (“Pony Violins,” “Cherokee”), while producer Milt Gabler combed through the European Kaempfert back catalog – particularly the bits he had previously ignored – to fill out the remainder of the album.

The album was finally issued in May of 1962 – notably without a European equivalent and several months after the single’s American demise. But the LP fared pretty well even so, despite some of the cheesiest package design ever afforded the otherwise elegantly-presented Bert Kaempfert.

“Afrikaan Beat” resurfaced forty years later as a prominent part of the popular Jack Nicholson film About Schmidt (2002), introducing a whole new generation to the inventive joys of Bert Kaempfert.

Bonus Tracks

At about the same time that Decca issued Bert Kaempfert’s follow-up to Afrikaan Beat and Other Favorites, That Happy Feeling (1962), the label put out the non-LP single “Golden Wings in the Sun” b/w “Cinderella After Dark” (although “Cinderella” seems to have been the A-side of the single as issued in Europe).

While this single never caught on in the U.S., Billboard favorably reviewed it: “[‘Golden Wings’ is] a pretty tune, done in slow tempo and arrangement for solo trumpet and trombone, much akin to his first hit ‘Wonderland by Night’.” The similarly-titled flip-side, “Cinderella After Midnight,” suggested that the label was still looking for sequels or re-runs. The public, however, had moved on.

Both sides of this single were featured on the 2000 European Kaempfert compilation CD The Polydor Singles Collection 1958/1972, but this is the first time these two pieces are restored to Bert Kaempfert’s Decca releases.