Herb Alpert and his band, The Tijuana Brass, were the most popular pop instrumental band of the 1960s. By the time their best album, Whipped Cream & Other Delights, was released in 1965, they had already produced four gold records. It is hard to overestimate how ubiquitous the “Ameriachi” sound of the Tijuana Brass was during my childhood.
By the way, Whipped Cream & Other Delights has the greatest album cover ever. The album cover required very careful study, with each square inch deserving of my cool scrutiny, some more than others. It never gets old.
Perhaps Herb Alpert will be remembered first as a savvy businessman. Together with Jerry Moss, Alpert, formed A&M Records in 1962. In the beginning, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass was the primary recording artist for the label. After Alpert’s success, the label began to add significant artists, and continued to have great commercial and financial success until Alpert and Moss sold the label to Polygram in 1989.
In videos, Mr. Alpert strikes me as being very image-conscious. A stoic performer, he lets the viewer know who is in charge. Perhaps I should give him the benefit of doubt, and assume he is driven and introverted.
The Tijuana Brass, initially a studio band, eventually formed in earnest to satisfy touring demands. The TJB disbanded in 1969. Here they are in London in 1969 with “Bittersweet Samba”:
An excerpt from the above link:
Q. Is Herb Alpert Mexican?
A. No, he is an American citizen of Jewish descent.
Q. Were there any Mexicans in the Tijuana Brass at all?
A. No. There were several Italians though!
My mother used to teach an exercise class at Menlo-Atherton High School in the mid-sixties. Not a consistent gig, but I remember her leaving once or twice a week to teach the class. These classes were a precursor to modern aerobics and strength training courses. In fact, the other teacher of these classes was Janice Kreutzmann, whose son is Bill Kreutzmann, the drummer for the Grateful Dead. Mom used to listen to The Tijuana Brass regularly. We had most or all of their first few albums, and and I remember her using the best songs for her exercise class vividly.
Most of these songs are remarkably catchy; he really has a knack for simple, swinging arrangements. I suppose you can make an argument that Herb Alpert is a real innovator. The first hit, “The Lonely Bull”, with its dual trumpets slightly out of sync, would be unique for its time. Perhaps his greatest hit, a remake of the movie theme “A Taste Of Honey” (most popular by The Beatles), is very admirable, an up-tempo transformation of a sweet but somewhat sleepy ballad.
Here is the fine studio version of “A Taste Of Honey”, with the band pretending to play along:
Here’s your list of Herb Alpert songs:
A Taste Of Honey, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭✭✭
Bittersweet Samba, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭✭
Tijuana Taxi, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭✭
Spanish Flea, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭✭
The Lonely Bull, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭✭
El Lobo, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭✭
Lollipops And Roses, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭✭
Mexican Shuffle, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭
So What’s New, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭
Green Peppers, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭
Whipped Cream, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭✭
Zorba The Greek, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭
Work Song, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass ✭
Route 101, Herb Alpert ✭✭✭
This Guys’ In Love With You, Herb Alpert ✭✭
Rise, Herb Alpert ✭
A Taste Of Honey, The Beatles ✭✭✭
A Taste Of Honey, The Beatles ✭✭✭
A Taste Of Honey, The Beatles ✭✭
These versions from Live At The BBC, Unsurpassed Masters Volume 1 (1962-1963) and Please Please Me.
Work Song, Dion ✭✭✭
Work Song, Oscar Brown, Jr. ✭✭