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Review, Analysis and Recordings Containing
Xtabay
Xtabay Monophonic Duophonic
Lure of the Unknown Love  (Les Baxter, John Rose - 3:16)
Recorded in 1950

Review and Analysis of Xtabay by Nicholas E. Limansky
From Yma Sumac - The Art Behind the Legend
used with permission - all rights reserved, © Nicholas E. Limansky
Read more on the Legacy of the Diva Web site!
"Xtabay, a lovely young Incan virgin, fell in love with a high prince of an Aztec kingdom.  It was a forbidden love, however, for he was high born and she was but a simple peasant.  The young girl, unable to keep her secret in her heart, sang to the mountain, the winds, whoever would listen to her song.  Her voice was so penetrating and enchanting that ultimately it reaced and killed the far-off prince."  (Liner notes, 1956 re-pressing)

Despite the fact that this is one of the best pieces on the disk, it was rarely used again.  I found only one reference to Yma singing it - during an American nightclub appearance in 1955.  Individual, exotic and rather sinister in tone, the piece was a perfect framework for Yma's talents.  It is a vocalise of pure exotica, cleverly and colorfully orchestrated.  It is a pean to unrequited love with deadly overtones.

The mood is immediately set as Yma's voice enters alone, (couched in reverberant acoustics) singing a haunting melody that rises to high D.  [Les] Baxter's composition uses a string section full of sighs and ritualistic accents.  She then sings the main theme in her lush mezzo register.  In the second section, Yma’s voice is mixed with an echo device, giving an icy atmosphere to the plaintive, chant-like phrases.  Throughout, Yma sings with a full, firm tone, and ornaments the simple melody over the inventive and colorful orchestration.  The echo device is used again near the end as Yma takes off in word-less roulades that culmimate on a top E flat.  The effect sought is very successful - that of a woman lamenting wildly at the top of a mountain range.

The finish is feather-delicate.  And although Yma’s high C is a fluttery pianissimo (it flips in and out of placement) it is effective.  For this recording, Yma altered what Les Baxter originally composed.  Instead of finishing on a top E flat, she chooses to return to the high C.

Yma does, however, finish the song as Baxter had originally intended in a previously unreleased "Boy-Girl version" that appeared on the 1995 CD Voice of the Xtabay and Other Exotic Delights.  There are several differences in these two versions.  The main one, of course, is that there is now text.  Interestingly, the original manuscript I received from BAX Music contains no text.

This recording definitely stems from another take of the piece, rather than just an overdubbing Yma's part.  Now the melody is sung by a very attractive, mellow-voiced, sexy, but un-named male vocalist.  Although he doesn't create much energy in his singing, its very calmness is mesmerizing.  Yma's contributions are rather subdued.  Much remains the same except that the interesting flourishleading to the high E flat near the end has been excised, replaced by a restatement of the main theme in normal voice regions.  Uninspired it sounds oddly out of place for such an overt piece of exotica.  The ending, however, is as Baxter originally composed it, with Yma sailing-off on a sustained top E flat, sweet and wispy.

Xtabay  is included on the following releases
Download-only version of Yma Sumac's first (Voice of the Xtabay) and third Inca Taqui albums, probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These are the same tracks that can be found on legitimate releases of Voice of the Xtabay. The exact country of origin is u . . . 2011 Australia
catalog no: SSL-3266
This is one of several transcription LP (16" vinyl format) that we've seen and this one has six of the original eight Voice of the Xtabay tracks on one side with the last two on the second side, followed by an unrelated suite of four orchestral pieces called Caucasian Moods. This recording was . . . 1950 United States
catalog no: AMR536
Another collection featuring tracks from Yma Sumac's various Capitol Records releases of the '50s. This release is available only as a download. 2010 United Kingdom
catalog no: ASIN: B002B2LZWC
Another collection of download only tracks that includes several of Yma Sumac's early South American recordings along with her later cuts from Capitol Records. Interestingly, the makers of this release chose to use English translations for some of the songs but the track listing shown here has been . . . 2008 United Kingdom
Download-only version of selections from Yma Sumac's Voice of the Xtabay, Legend of the Sun Virgin and Inca Taqui. probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These tracks are included on legitimate releases of Voice of the Xtabay and Legend of the Sun Virgin b . . . 2013 Australia
Download-only version of the original eight track release of Yma Sumac's Voice of the Xtabay, probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These are the same tracks that can be found on legitimate releases of Voice of the Xtabay but with the English translations . . . 2011 Australia
catalog no: C-765
Single, from Voice of the Xtabay 1950 Canada
catalog no: 1717
Promotional single from Yma Sumac's first U.S. album, Voice of the Xtabay 1950 United States
catalog no: 15647
One of several 78 RPM singles from France on the Telefunken label. 1950 France
catalog no: CL 15647
78 rpm single from Germany on the Capitol Records Telefunken label. The two songs contained on this single are from the Voice of the Xtabay album. 1950 Germany
catalog no: 5530
One of the few known releases from Japan, this is a 78 rpm single made by the King Records company, a subsidiary of Capitol Records. 1950 Japan
catalog no: 10-40.138
Single from Voice of the Xtabay, recorded in 1950. This is one of the few pressings known from Brazil. 1952 Brazil
catalog no: 1717
Single, from Voice of the Xtabay. 1952 United States
catalog no: CD-244
This was Yma Sumac's first album after arriving in the United States in 1946. Before that, she recorded a number of sides in Argentina in 1943. 1950 United States
catalog no: CD-244
This album, which was recorded in 1950, is a reissue of Yma Sumac's debut album. The original pressings did not have the wood grained border around the cover art as seen on this later reissue. By the time this one was made, 78s were falling out of favor so that this pressing is rather rare today. 1952 United States
catalog no: CD-244
This album, which was recorded in 1950, is a Canadian reissue of Yma Sumac's debut album. Unusual in that it has an embossed leatherette cover without cover art. 1952 Canada
catalog no: F1717
Single from Voice of the Xtabay 1952 United States
catalog no: F1717
Single from Voice of the Xtabay, optional centers 1952 United States
catalog no: CDF-244
This is one of the early pressings of Yma Sumac's first U.S. album and was released right after the 78 set. 1950 United States
catalog no: CDF-224
One of several unusual Voice of the Xtabay pressings without any front cover photo. On this version, the track listing and credits are also on the front with the inside cover containing the notes and the back of the box being plain. 1952 Canada
catalog no: EAP4-684
Part 4 of set from Norway has tracks from both Voice of the Xtabay (1950) and Inca Taqui (1953) so is actually a compilation rather than an original reissue. 1956 Norway
catalog no: EBF-244
Reissue of first album, b/w back cover photo. 1952 United States
catalog no: H-244
Reissue of first album, color back cover photo.  The first edition pressings in this format such as this one do not have the woodgrained border as have later pressings. 1952 United States
catalog no: H-244
Reissue of first album, with wood-grained border and b/w back cover photo. This release, as with many European pressings, has the cover art and wood grained border printed together and unlike many others, it does not have the High Fidelity logo on the cover below the Capitol logo. 1952 France
catalog no: LCA 244
Reissue of Yma Sumac's 1950 recording.  This is one of the few pressings to have a plain cover without a photo.  Instead, it has white and dark blue text on a light blue background. 1952 Germany
catalog no: H-244
Import reissue of first album embossed burgundy cover, white print logo, black print title without cover art of any kind.  Has color back photo, probably dates to the first 10" LP reissues. 1952 Canada
catalog no: LCA 244
Reissue of Yma Sumac's 1950 recording. Another release from Germany has the same catalog number but does not have the cover art that this release has. 1952 Germany
catalog no: LC.6522
Import reissue of first album Blue cover, white print logo, black print title without cover art of any kind 1953 United Kingdom
catalog no: H-244
Import reissue of first album burgundy cover with gold embossed text, without cover art of any kind.  Has B/W back photo, probably dates to a later 10" LP reissue. 1953 Canada
catalog no: LC.6522
This pressing was actually manufactured in the U.K. but was made specifically for the South African market.  It differs from the U.K. release in that it has liner notes and the South African "Seal of Guarantee / Waarborgseël" along with some slight differences on layout. 1953 South Africa
catalog no: L-244
Later reissue of first album, with woodgrained border and b/w back cover photo 1954 United States
catalog no: L-244
Reissue of first album from New Zealand.  Mfg. by His Master's Voice (N.Z.) Ltd. 1954 New Zealand
catalog no: UV092
Recent 10" LP release of Yma's first album with the original eight tracks. 2003 Italy
catalog no: L-244
Brazilian pressing of Voice of the Xtabay has liner notes, label and sleeve text in Portuguese. Yma Sumac was very popular in Brazil and performed a number of concerts there through the years but the album pressings are only now starting to appear outside the country. As with most South American pre . . . 1952 Brazil
catalog no: 2 C 054-80 293
12" LP compilation from France, has small color cover photo from Mambo photo session.  This was volume 10 in a series of albums by popular artists. 1976 France
catalog no: ST-26 498
12" LP compilation from Spain.  Manel Domínguez-Navarro, who wrote the liner notes, is a regular visitor to this site and is also an Yma Sumac fan. 1982 Spain
catalog no: SDP-562
Promotional 12" LP compilation of various EMI/Capitol performers, released on the subsidiary Odeon label. 1974 Brazil
catalog no: SL-9799
Red-tone cover photo, available mail order only 1988 United States
catalog no: W-684
This is the first 12" LP reissue of Yma Sumac's phenominal 1950 premier album and includes all the tracks from her third album, Inca Taqui to fill the larger capacity of the 12" LP format. 1955 United States
catalog no: REG 2007
This unusual 12" LP reissue from England of Yma Sumac's first album, recorded in 1950, has original eight tracks only - it does not include the Inca Taqui tracks as other 12" LPs.  The cover shows a closeup photo of flowers without a photo of Yma Sumac.  The back is fairly plain with title . . . 1956 United Kingdom
catalog no: 5C 038-85488 (T-684)
LP containing sixteen tracks from Voice of the Xtabay (1950) and Inca Taqui (1953) from Holland. Similar in most repects to the U.S. releases except in catalog number and logo details. It was released on the EMI Records Holland sub-label. Inner sleeve features an artist rendering of the Capitol Reco . . . 1956 Netherlands
catalog no: W-684
Reissue of first album, B/W back cover photo, this is a later pressing without the inset of the Inca Taqui cover art that graced the original release in this format.  Although not the very first, this is one of the earlier 12" LP releases and shares the catalog number with original 12" pr . . . 1963 United States
catalog no: DW 684
Reissue of first album, Duophonic simulated stereo, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1963 United States
catalog no: DW-684
Duophonic (simulated stereo) LP from Canada is virtually identical to U.S. pressings other than the tiny Made in Canada notations on the sleeve and disk label. 1963 Canada
catalog no: SLEM-323
One of the few known pressings from Mexico, this 12" LP is in the simulated stereo Duophonic format. 1972 México
catalog no: SUA 14 729
Supraphon version with plain back (track listing only) and no cover title.  This album is basically a reissue of Voice of the Xtabay but with one song less on each side. 1965 Czech Republic
catalog no: DV 6150
Gramophon record club version with cover title and liner notes. This album is basically a reissue of Voice of the Xtabay but with one song less on each side. 1965 Czech Republic
catalog no: 7243 8 317161 3
Double LP Compilation from Greece features tracks from Voice of the Xtabay, Mambo! and Legend of the Jivaro 1971 Greece
Vinyl releases seem to be the trend now as this recent double LP indicates. This time it is a reissue from a compilation CD rather than being a reissue of an original vinyl disk. 2005 United Kingdom
catalog no: BYD77004
27 track compilation featuring pre-1955 material along with several 1943 Argentina Session tracks. Good selection of material but the booklet contains many inaccuracies over the usual. For example, her name was spelled as Ymma throughout when that spelling was used only on one obscure release from t . . . 2008 United Kingdom
catalog no: SOW 90201
Compact Disc compilation from Holland, which is the first time that any of the early 1943 tracks from Argentina have been heard on a CD release outside South America. There is lots of ambiguity in this CD's country of origin (it indicates that it was made in Portugal in some places and The Netherlan . . . 2002 Netherlands
catalog no: 2711402146
Unusual Compact Disc collection from Greece, apparently available for only a single day as a promotional by a weekly newspaper. Packaged in a long DVD-type sleeve. 2008 Greece
catalog no: SOL 610
This compilation has fifteen tracks including a live track by Yma Sumac recorded in Bucharest, Romania and two instumentals by Les Baxter from his 1951 Ritual of the Savage album. It also features an interesting revision of the Inca Taqui cover art similar to what was used on a painted version of th . . . 2003 France
catalog no: PMP 012
Sampler of twenty-two tracks features Yma Sumac on two of them. 1996 United States
catalog no: ASIN: B001P5MG6A
Collection from the United Kingdom features tracks ranging from Yma Sumac earliest material from 1943 to 1954 at the height of her career. Includes tracks from Voice of the Xtabay (1950), Legend of the Sun Virgin (1952), Inca Taqui (1953) and Mambo! (1954) and also included are her two singles from . . . 2009 United Kingdom
catalog no: 796 642-1
Contains Voice of the Xtabay and half of Mambo!, volume one of two 1991 France
Collection to be released on January 17th, 2005, although the country of origin is somewhat vague. It seems to show up primarily on sites in France but was more likely made in Italy. 2005 France
catalog no: INTROCD2086
Another compilation of early '50s material by Yma Sumac. 2006 United Kingdom
catalog no: 7243-8-37 518-2-2
CD single with a track each of the 1996 CD reissues 1996 United States
catalog no: 7243837518-2-2
Reissue of CD single with a track each of the 1996 CD reissues and new cover art to match the Ultimate Yma Sumac Collection 2000 United States
catalog no: CD-367
Compact disc compilation. 1995 Italy
catalog no: CD 367
Part of a series of public domain CD releases from Promo Sound, formerly listed here is being in Italy but their business headquarters are in Ireland. 1997 Ireland
catalog no: CD 31507
Another compilation featuring selections from Yma Sumac's first four Capitol Records albums. This release is part of the Entertainers of the World series. Although the country origin is not stated anywhere on the packaging inside or out, the publisher is located in Ireland. This release does not hav . . . 2009 Ireland
catalog no: PCD-1172
This compilation was the first CD released of Yma Sumac's material 1987 United States
catalog no: CDL 9568
Yma Sumac's first CD, this particlar pressing of the compilation was from Canada. 1987 Canada
catalog no: CDL 9568
Yma Sumac's first CD which in this case is a compilation.  This is a later reissue. 1991 United States
catalog no: CD 72 435-21 434-2-9
Compilation 2000 United States
catalog no: Promo
Compilation Promotional edition, Mfg. by Imperial Tape Company 2000 United States
catalog no: 1087927
Another collection containing tracks by many artists, including Bas Sheva, Les Baxter, Esquivel and, of course, Yma Sumac along with many others.  There are twenty-three tracks on this collection, listed only as being from the European Union. 2007 Netherlands
catalog no: TOCP 50 037
CD compilation from Japan features a nice cross section of Yma Sumac's '50s material.  Now out of print, it still shows up once in a while. 1996 Japan
catalog no: EMI-RE-020 428
Contains early 1943 Argentina Session material, along with later Capitol Records tracks 1996 Perú
catalog no: OLFC 032
Compact Disc compilation from Italy. 2003 Italy
catalog no: CDP-7-91 217-2
Reissue of first album, first CD reissue, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1987 United States
Promotional copy of 1996 Right Stuff CD reissue, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1996 United States
catalog no: 0777-7-91 217-2-4
Reissue of first album, second CD reissue, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1996 United States
catalog no: 8374292
EMI Rarities reissue of first album with Inca Taqui tracks and bonus track with original unedited cover art 1999 France
catalog no: CREVO 34 CD
Compilation with previously-unreleased material.  This is the original 1995 issue but a more recent version exists with different tracks. 1995 United Kingdom
catalog no: CREVO 34 CD
Reissue of compilation with previously-unreleased material. This reissue contains a slightly different track selection than the original 2001 United Kingdom
catalog no: 23351
76 Hits and Rarities from the goddess of Exotica. More details and track for this September 2012 collection coming soon. 2012 United Kingdom
Although this double CD has the tracks in a different order, it is basically the CD version of the LP, The Very Best of Yma Sumac, and is one of the few known pressings from Greece. 2003 Greece
catalog no: GSS 5482
This 3-CD set advertised as being from Holland but package and disk printing indicate it was made in Portugal. Released in March 2008 and contains 47 tracks, this boxed set contains three standard jewel cases all with the same cover art and no booklet or notes. The box cover is shown. 2008 Portugal
catalog no: 118734
Anthologie 1950-1959 Compact Disc set of Yma Sumac's containing all of Yma Sumac's 1950's Capitol Records original release catalog. Probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These tracks are included on legitimate releases of all the original albums. 2013 France
catalog no: BLUE102CD
Double CD collection features remastered tracks from the 1943 Argentina Session along with those from the Capitol Records years. 2005 United Kingdom
Yet another compilation CD with the title of Queen of Exotica making three with that title. This one, which is a 2-CD set, combines four of Yma Sumac's '50s albums. 2005 United Kingdom
catalog no: 8712177050550
Three-disk CD collection features many artists with two tracks by Yma Sumac. Most sites list this CD as being from the Netherlands but it is marked as having been made in Portugal just as the others by this label are marked.  Other artists include Esquival, Les Baxter Raymond Scott and many others! . . . 2007 Portugal
catalog no: 0777 7 99701 2 4
Two-CD reissue of Voice of the Xtabay (original eight tracks only), Mambo and Legend of the Jivaro, in one jewel case. Manufactured in Holland for EMI Germany. 1992 Germany
catalog no: B00006IWIC
Two CD set containing the entire Mambo! and Ultimate Yma Sumac Collection CDs, probably as individual CDs in a slipsleeve. 2002 France
catalog no: 4 XL-57 080
This brief cassette compilation has one stereo track and is the first time that Babalu was heard since its release as a 78 rpm and 45 rpm single in the '50s.  This cassette contains a good cross section of Yma Sumac's recordings. 1989 United States
catalog no: 4 XL-9799
B/W cover photo, mail order edition. This early release has two addional tracks not found on later cassette reissues. 1988 United States
catalog no: PDK-2-1172
First cassette compilation has two tracks fewer than the compact disc version 1992 United States
catalog no: FE 020537
Contains early 1943 Argentina Session material, along with later Capitol Records tracks 1996 Perú
catalog no: promo
"Selections From the Forthcoming Albums" - this seldom seen cassette tape heralded the reissue of Yma Sumac's entire Capitol Records' catalog in 1996 and was later reissued on compact disc as Sampler Exotica with different, though similar, cover art and the same liner notes. 1996 United States
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