The album cover alone is worth the purchase, and of course, there's music to go with the graphic cover. The Versatile Henry Mancini is a combination of exotica and a down kind of mood. This album floats, but it does have its tension. For one, he's a brilliant arranger. Everything is top-notch on his recordings. This is one of my favorite Mancini albums.
As mentioned its hard to get past the cover, but there are elements here that reminds me of Brian Eno's "Another Green World," as well as some of Brian Wilson's "Pet Sounds" era. Although the theme of the album is exotica island life, it has a noir quality as well. Accordion comes between the organ which gives it a charm, with the occasional guitar joining the aural party. It's a beautiful sound conveying not the islands, but the thought or imagination of such a place. Mancini is not presenting reality but a 'sound' imaginary place. Nor is it in your face like a Martin Denny recording. Mancini is more sleepy, drowsy and very sexual.
Mancini has done all sorts of music, and the one's I know are his soundtracks and some of his jazz-related recordings. I never heard his albums devoted to the famous film soundtracks of its time, because the theme turns me off. But this is an exceptionally great album. For those who like 'moderne' sounds of the mid-century will go big on this, but also if you like the more experimental or exploration side of exotica.