One of my wife’s latest brick & mortar selections, Chuck Mangione’s 1976 album, Main Squeeze. My wife (adorably) confused Mr. Mangione with Herb Alpert, but we’re both more than happy to welcome this modern jazz (well, mid-70’s modern jazz) album to the collection. I’d definitely welcome more spins by Mangione in the near future, and it just hit me that I should probably be listening to a lot more from the A&M Records library. Baja Marimba Band, anyone?
Latin jazz greats, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass tackle Cole Porter (My Heart Belongs to Daddy) and The Beatles (With a Little Help from My Friends), among others on their 9th studio album, 1967’s Herb Alpert’s Ninth. Lost on me (until a bit of internet digging) is the pop culture joke on the cover. Apparently it was popular in the late 60s to wear shirts with Ludwig van Beethoven’s head on them. Makes sense, really, so jokester Mr. Alpert put his head on a shirt worn by none other than Mr. Beethoven. That goofy horn genius! The music is classic, modern day pop Latin jazz instrumental, and with every other offering by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert’s Ninth comes highly recommended.
Sergio Mendes and his Brasil ’66 were given glowing praise by none other than Herb Alpert on the band’s debut album, Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66. In addition to being the producer of the album, presenter, and co-owner of the label, Mr. Alpert offered his pen, and his signature to a praising write-up on the album’s back cover. If you’re not familiar with the vivacious Latin Jazz ensemble, consider Mr. Alpert’s expert opinion on the matter. You certainly will not regret it.
If you like Herb Alpert, Lucille Starr, The Baja Marimba Band, and overall great music in general, have a look-see at the biggest little catalog insert by A&M Records. Issued in 1965, this esthetically pleasing record jacket features the clever inclusion of Herb Alpert’s trumpet integrated within its logo, and is a reminder that functionality can also offer top-notch design. A&M Records, and it’s oxymoron catalog come highly recommended for easy listening brass background music. Cheers, kids.
Let’s take a little look-see through this colorful back catalog to the now defunct A&M Records, shall we? As noted before (I think…), A&M Records was started by Mr. Tijuana Brass himself, Herb Alpert. Groovy, no? If you look closely, you’ll notice a few CTI Records scattered about (Wes Montomery’s A Day in the Life and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Wave), and let’s not forget that CTI Records (Creed Taylor Incorporated) started as a subsidiary of A&M before spreading their independent wings and going solo in 1970, which places this insert somewhere between 1967 and 1970… for what that’s worth. Sidebar, I’m rapidly running out of inserts, and this deeply saddens me. The hunt shall undoubtedly continue.
It’s been noted… it’s been stated… so, much like how I won’t tackle The Beatles, I’ll leave the simple observations between these two album covers to those who have finished before me. I will say, however, that it took me much longer than I’d like to admit to track down Mr. Cooper’s delightful cover rendition of the classic Whipped Cream & Other Delights. If I were to wear a hat, I would remove it, nod in respectful applause, and say, “Well done Mr. Cooper. Well done indeed, sir.”
(The Prudent Groove: Anti-hat since last Thursday.)
(Raises coffee mug… again) Oh, I almost forgot, Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass wanted me to inform you that their album, The Beat of the Brass is good mood music for unwinding after a hectic day. So, keep that in mind if today turns into one of those, “what the hell do you mean, it’s only Monday?!” kind of days.
When I was a youngster, I absolutely loved those “can you spot the difference?” games in the back of magazines that presented two, almost identical pictures side by side, where in which the object was to find the subtle differences between the two pictures. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered, almost by accident, that several of the doubles in my collection were different issues, and therefore had very subtle differences. I thought to myself, hmm, why not create a “can you spot the difference?’ game for the readers of The Prudent Groove?
When you purchase a used album, you really never know what you’re going to get. (Takes a few steps forward and smiles.) Hello, this is X from The Prudent Groove.
Not unlike downloading an album without the proper metadata, and we all know how annoying THAT can be, am I right?! (Takes a beat.) The level of quality attributed to a used record you find at say, a thrift store, is based solely on the mindset, (Beat.) and general care of its previous owner. (Looks down, then back up. Puts hands in pockets.)
Was the previous owner a neat freak who housed each of their cherished albums in overpriced, protective sleeves like we do here at The Groove? (Cocks head as to ponder this question.) Did they use the front jacket as a temporary table for rolling dried relaxation plants? (Beat.) Were they careless and used the back cover as a coaster, leaving a circular ring of ancient coffee above the “we’re trying to look casual” picture of the band? (Lets out a slight chuckle.)
These questions, and any others you may have of a record’s previous owner, will fall upon deaf ears, and the answers will only exist within our own imaginations. (Sits down on a chair. Where did the chair come from?)
Take for example this A&M Records insert I found inside my copy of Johnny Cash & Jerry Lee Lewis’ Sunday Down South album on Sun Records. (Holds up record, not pictured here.) The previous owner either didn’t care, or didn’t notice that the insert didn’t match the album. Not a very big deal as the record is in pristine shape. (Chuckles.) The previous owner probably didn’t enjoy the music and never played it, and THAT’S why it’s in such good shape. (Stands back up and begins walking.)
“Listen To Your World” is a clear-headed marketing slogan from A&M Records that suggests “your world” (Does quotes with his fingers… incorrectly.) can only be found on A&M Records. Clever girl. (Says in terrible British accent.) The flipside to this slogan showcases some pretty heavy-hitters from the A&M catalogue. (Looks down at insert as if to read.) Cat Stevens, Herb Alpert, Humble Pie, Quincy Jones and Burt Bacharach to name a few. With no date affixed to this insert, the words, “Listen To Your World” seem to become as timeless as some of the classic releases found on A&M Records. Coupled with the bold, white text on a basic, black background, this modern day musical proverb is a strong, and I hope profitable, marketing campaign for A&M Records, one that I’m happy I stumbled upon in an almost unorthodox manner.
Take a little mental trip on your next hunt through your local second hand store, and give a distinctive personality to that record you can’t live without. (Puts hands in pockets and smiles.) The album, like the music, exists as an entity in and of itself. Give it a history, and your collection will come to life in ways you never imagined.
This has been X from The Prudent Groove. (Smiles and puts hands on hips.) I’ll see you here tomorrow. Have a great afternoon. (Walks away in an awkward, no idea where he is stroll.)
What better way to enjoy this celebratory day of Mexican culture than with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass? It was exactly 151 years ago today that the Mexican army defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla, and it was exactly 12 minutes ago that I began my commemoratory festivities by spinning !!Going Places!! on my Malaysian-made turntable.
With !!Going Places!!, Herb Alpert (which I always used to think was named Herp Albert) adapts his luxurious brand of big-brass-south-of-the-border sound to a scad of mainstream classics like, I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, Spanish Flea, 3rd Man Theme, Walk, Don’t Run, Zorba the Greek and of course, Cinco de Mayo.
This album is paradisiac for those annual family barbeques when your uncle gets drunk on cheap, canned-beer and ends up breaking the giant yellow slide at the kid’s playground, and those awkward reunions when your cousin won’t stop talking about the time you and she made out behind the elementary school music house. Like a soothing bastian of much anticipated relief, !!Going Places!! merrily supports grandiose, festive gatherings and does it in supurb, instrumental style.
The Prudent Groove would like to wish every man, woman and child from every corner of this diverse floating rock, the absolute best Cinco de Mayo, and (raises glass) here’s hoping the majority of you won’t be too hungover when your piercing alarm wakes you up tomorrow morning for work.