Thursday, April 2, 2015

whipped cream & other delights

 Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass rose to the top with this fun and flavorful mariachi indulgence.  Los Angeles native Alpert learned the trumpet from the age of eight and joined the US Army after high school and later studied music at the University of Southern California where he was part of the Trojan Marching Band.  He teamed up with lyricist Rob Weerts to write songs for Keen Records including hits like "Baby Talk" by Jan and Dean, "Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke, and "Alley Oop" by The Hollywood Argyles and by Dante & the Evergreens.

He started Carnival Records with Jerry Moss and released "Tell It to the Birds" under the moniker Dore Alpert in 1961; but when it was discovered that there was another label with that name already, they changed the name to A&M Records.   Alpert's overdubbed home recording of "The Lonely Bull" became the first single for A&M and went to number six on the US pop chart and number one in Australia.  Alpert would reveal:   "It started with song I used to play on weekends in LA. A piano player named Sol Lake wrote it. It was called “Twinkle Star.” It had a very appealing melody to it. In 1962, I had my first experience at bullfight; I saw the great Carlos Arruso. I was taken in by the bravado and the sounds of Mexico…not so much the music, but the spirit. I got home that afternoon and had this tune — Twinkle Star — in my head. I translated that song and worked it into tone feeling I was having. We finished recording it, but needed one more element: the sounds of arena. A friend, Ted Keeps — an engineer — happened to have a tape of sounds of bullring in Tijuana and overlayed it onto the tape, and we became the Tijuana Brass...My partner Jerry Moss [named the group]. He was an ex-promotion man and he was insistent that we pick a name that people would hear name once and remember. “Tijuana Brass” stuck. It was strange because didn’t want to deceive anyone…we weren’t a band from Mexico; I didn’t want to be an imposter or living up to an image people had of me or the group. But it’s been nice…they were beautiful times. “The Lonely Bull” allowed me to explore myself musically. Latin instruments have always been a part in my music, but I never felt a closeness to music from south of the border."

'The Lonely Bull' album came next, followed by 'Volume 2', and 'South of the Border'; but they failed to match the success of the first release.  Gradually, the band expanded to include  Herb Alpert on trumpet and vocals;   Tonni Kalash on trumpet;   Bob Edmondson on trombone;   John Pisano on guitar;   Nick Ceroli on drums;   Lou Pagani on piano;   and Pat Senatore on bass.   Sessions for their next album also included Carol Kaye on bass;  Hal Blaine on drums;  Ervan “Bud” Coleman on guitar, mandolin and banjo;   and Julius Wechter on marimba, xylophone, vibes, and percussion.

'Whipped Cream and Other Delights' was produced by Alpert and Moss with engineer Larry Levine.  Alpert says:   "It was recorded at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, but prior to that my first recorder was a wire recorder.  I had a Webcor wire recorder.  If you wanted to intercut some things, you needed a soldering iron ... I like the way I play...I remember in the ’60s when I was doing the Tijuana Brass. I was doing the “Whipped Cream” album. I was sitting on top of the consul listening to a play back of “Taste of Honey.” I said to myself, ‘Man, this is good. I like it. I would buy this (laughs).’ I think part of being a good artist is you have to underwrite what you’re doing...Timing and good luck are important...It’s hard to predict that. You have to be at the right place at the right time, and if you’re prepared you can walk through the door. I think the mass appeal of all artists is honesty. I’m not trying to play to impress anyone. I’m trying to experience my own creativity and be as honest as I can in delivering those melodies. I was looking into my own way of expressing myself, and when I found it with that Tijuana Brass sound, it was a happy moment in my life ...  It’s one that I think about a lot. When people think of Tijuana Brass, they think of that album…or of the cover. It had “A Taste of Honey,” which was record of the year in 1965. It was fun for me because most people didn’t think it was a hit record. You couldn’t dance to it — it stopped in the middle. It was too long. But I had a feeling for it. And it came about because of the tune I received from a publisher in New Orleans called “Whipped Cream.” Alan Touissant wrote it for Al Hirt. Al turned it down. Someone played it for me over the phone — our distributor down there — and I liked the melody and recorded the song and it became a moderate hit. My partner Jerry Moss got the ideas to get a bunch of food titles together… “Whipped cream,” “Tangerine,” “Lemon Tree,” “A Taste of Honey,” “Butterball.” So A Taste of Honey stepped out and established the sound for us."

Dolores Erickson remembers the photo shoot for the iconic album cover:     "Peter Whorf, who designed the album cover, was engaged to my best girlfriend. Peter was a wonderful photographer who I worked with many times before on cover shoots at Capitol Records. He had his garage converted in a studio, and that’s where we worked. It was just like any other job...I was wearing a bikini, and there was a cotton cloth that went around my body. It was shaving cream on the cloth, but on my head was whipped cream. And of course it was whipped cream on my fingers, too. Shaving cream probably doesn’t taste very good (laughs). I don’t remember how many cans it took. We were just talking and hanging out while all this was going on."

Alpert looks back:   "I never felt limited. This might sound weird. man, but I never tried to make a hit record. I tried to make good records, and I tried to make interesting records. I worked with Sam Cooke and wrote a song, “A Wonderful World,” with Sam and my partner at the time, Lou Adler. Sam was a mentor, and he said: “People are just listening to a cool piece of wax. And it either makes it or it doesn’t. And it’s not important what kind of echo chamber you’re using. Or how much time you’ve spent in the studio practicing...Even as an owner of A&M Records, when I hear an artist, I’m listening for a feeling, not for the intricacies of it all. I try to play songs that make me feel good. “The Lonely Bull” was my response to the bullfights I had seen in Tijuana. After that became a big hit I remember I got this letter from a person in Germany thanking me for a vicarious trip to Tijuana. And it hit me over the noggin. Man, I’m going to make visual music. That’s what I’m going to do...Music that conjures up images for me as I’m creating it and playing it."

"A Taste of Honey" won four awards including Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 1966. The instrumental spent five weeks at number one on the easy listening chart and reached number seven on the pop chart.

"Whipped Cream" went to number thirteen on the US adult contemporary chart; but became more well known for its use on 'The Dating Game'.

'Whipped Cream and Other Delights'
full album:

Side 1
00:00 "A Taste of Honey" (Bobby Scott, Ric Marlow) – 2:43
02:51 "Green Peppers" (Sol Lake) – 1:31
04:25 "Tangerine" (Johnny Mercer, Victor Schertzinger) – 2:46
07:14 "Bittersweet Samba" (Sol Lake) – 1:46
09:01 "Lemon Tree" (Will Holt) – 2:23
11:27 "Whipped Cream" (Naomi Neville) – 2:33
Side 2
14:04 "Love Potion No. 9" (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) – 3:02
17:08 "El Garbanzo" (Sol Lake) – 2:13
19:24 "Ladyfingers" (Toots Thielemans) – 2:43
22:13 "Butterball" (Mike Henderson) – 2:12
24:29 "Peanuts" (Luis Guerrero) – 2:09
26:41 "Lollipops and Roses" (Tony Velona) – 2:27
bonus tracks
29:14 "Rosemary"
32:30 "Blueberry Park"

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