Combustible Edison was a group founded in the early 1990s in Providence, Rhode Island, and was one of several lounge music acts that led a brief resurgence of interest in the genre during the mid-1990s. Unlike other bands with a more ironic take on the lounge scene, Combustible Edison took the music seriously and strove to add to what its members saw as a canon of works, such as those by Esquivel, Henry Mancini, and Martin Denny.
In the early 1980s, the artists known as The Millionaire and Miss Lily Banquette formed, with Peter Dixon, a rock band called Christmas, which put out several albums. Nicholas Cudahy also performed with Christmas in the late 1980s.
In 1991, the Millionaire wrote a stage show entitled "The Tiki Wonder Hour," and formed the 14-piece "Combustible Edison Heliotropic Oriental Mambo and Foxtrot Orchestra" to accompany the performance. After three performances of "Wonder Hour," the orchestra slimmed down to its five core members, shortened its name, and put out a debut album, I, Swinger, on Sub Pop records. The band put out two more full-length discs - Schizophonic! and The Impossible World - and several singles. The band performed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on December 23, 1994.
The band also recorded the soundtrack to the film Four Rooms, with music produced by Mark Mothersbaugh. The main theme for the Four Rooms soundtrack, "Vertigogo," was submitted for consideration for an Academy Award but was ultimately disqualified from consideration because of its incomprehensible lyrical content, despite the fact that the band submitted a lyric sheet with their best written approximation of the lyrics.(Cite Source) Music from the band has appeared as backdrop music on the NPR program This American Life. The band's song The Millionaire's Holiday was used in several television commercials for OK Soda when it was test marketed in 1994.
Unlike other musical acts who, to warm up live audiences, employ an opening act, Combustible Edison instead chose to display a short film, "Dark Night in the Ultraviolet City," which was billed as "Combustible Edison's Opening Act". Director Guy Benoit described it as a vignette exploring the Combustible Edison mindset. Combustible Edison provides the music for this short film, and The Millionaire himself has a cameo as a robot. During some shows, the film was played during intermission instead of an opener. Experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger was invited to direct an accompanying video for the song "Bluebeard," but declined commenting that he didn't care for the music. (He also commented that the song was never released as a result; on the contrary, it featured on Schizophonic! and was released as a single in its own right.)
After Combustible Edison, The Millionaire went on to help build the online music community site Luxuriamusic.com. A cocktail enthusiast, he also contributed the Combustible Edison Cocktail, the recipe for which was printed on the back cover of the band's debut "I, Swinger" CD. It was later collected by Paul Harrington in his book Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century. The Millionaire has been credited with coining the term "Cocktail Nation".
- Miss Lily Banquette (vocals, bongos) (AKA Liz Cox)
- The Millionaire (electric guitar) (AKA Michael Cudahy)
- Nick Cudahy (double bass)
- Mr. Peter Dixon (organ)
- Aaron Oppenheimer (percussion)
- Michael "Laughing Boy" Connors
- Brother Cleve
- Cry Me a River 7" vinyl (1993)
- Blue Light ep (1993)
- I, Swinger Sub Pop (1994)
- Four Rooms Original Soundtrack Album (1995)
- Schizophonic! Sub Pop (February 27, 1996)
- Short Double Latte ep (1996)
- Bluebeard ep (1996)
- The Impossible World (1998)
- Monopoly Queen / Let's keep it friendly (7" with Lisa Crystal Carver and Boyd Rice)
- Happy Holidays from Sub Pop (promotional cd featuring "Christmas Time is here" and "Sleigh Ride")
- Secret Agent S.O.U.N.D.S. (contributed Mancini cover "A shot in the dark")
- Lounge-a-palooza (contributed Esquivel cover "Miniskirt")
- Montenegro Non Tropo (from Schizophonic! sessions, also name of cocktail)
- Incomplete (unmastered track recorded in collaboration with Bryan Ferry)
- Miss Lily Banquette - "My Secret Love" on the Grace of My Heart Original Soundtrack, and "Oahu" on The 6ths album Hyacinths & Thistles.
- The Millionaire - "Supercasanova" loungey pop album created with Eric Bonerz, and involvement with the Velvet Hammer Burlesque troupe as The Millionaire and his Maharajahs of Melody or The Millionaire and his Bad, Bad Men - including four tracks on a soundtrack to a documentary on the troupe.
- Peter Dixon - Released a solo album of instrumental, lounge-influences tracks in 2007 titled "Shady Planet".
- Brother Cleve - Member of The Swinging Erudites. Released music under Brother Cleve and his Lush Orchestra, including tracks for "Two Zombies Later" 2CD compilation. Producer for exotica band Waitiki. Also known as keyboardist for Indo-pop band Dragonfly and most recently produced his own Hindi-influenced album under the moniker DJ Sharaabi Kappor.
- Mike Connors - Replacement drummer for Tiki band Waitiki.
- at AllMusic
- Miss Daphne Q. Appleby's Combustible Fansite