K-Chuck Radio: The horns of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

He was arguably the most successful American musician of the 1960’s.  His albums with the Tijuana Brass were staples of nearly every music collection.

And for today on K-Chuck Radio, I want to bring you the music of legendary trumpeter Herb Alpert.  And the best way to start is with…

THE LONELY BULL

This was Herb Alpert’s first hit, and it set the template for future recordings – a beautifully orchestrated melody, complete with sound effects to evoke the imagery of an afternoon in downtown Mexico City… or maybe Barcelona… or possibly Cancun… and you gotta love this early video, featuring an eagle-view shot of the Tijuana Brass at an open-air bullring.

Now this is cool. What I’m showing you here is the film that won the Academy Award for Best Short Film of 1966. It features three of Herb Alpert’s iconic recordings – “Mexican Shuffle” (also known as the Teaberry Shuffle”), “Spanish Flea” (also known as the Dating Game theme) and “Tijuana Taxi” (also known as “Tijuana Taxi”).

The most iconic album from Herb Alpert’s career – and the one with the most recognizable album cover – is obviously Whipped Cream and Other Delights. The music on it was great – including this title track – but man oh man, how could you not fall head-over-heels for that cheesecake model on the cover?

Technically, Herb Alpert did record the opening theme for a James Bond film. Okay, it’s not strictly a canonical James Bond film, but it is the theme for “Casino Royale.” No, not the one with Daniel Craig… but still, the soundtrack was a chart-topper in its own right.

Interestingly, Herb Alpert is the only artist to have topped the pop charts with an instrumental song and with a vocal song. Here’s the vocal, “This Guy’s In Love With You,” as performed on one of his television specials. In fact, it was this TV special that actually spurred overwhelming audience response to put out a 45 of this track.

The instrumental track that hit #1 for him? Why, it’s this classic, “Rise,” of course.

And here’s the odd thing – in England, when the original 12″ version of “Rise” was provided to club DJ’s, they played the song at 45 RPM instead of 33 1/3 RPM (UK 12″ inch dance records were recorded for 45 RPM speed), and that’s why this version of “Rise” became a hit at this speed in the UK. Wow.

At some point in time, Herb Alpert figured out that with this thing called music videos, and working with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the man could return to the dance floor with some more hits.  Including this psychedelic sound collage, “Keep Your Eye On Me.”

Now here’s something cool. You own your record label. And one of your hottest musicians is tearing up the charts with hit after hit. What would it take to get this artist – Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty – and get her to perform on your LP? You think it might hit #1 on the R&B charts and be a Top 10 pop hit? Maybe with the name “Diamonds”? Yeah… I thought so.

A nice little mix of Herb Alpert’s greatest hits – all dialed right here on your home for the best music of all time, K-Chuck Radio!

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3 thoughts on “K-Chuck Radio: The horns of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass”

  1. One of my favorites! I owned the Whipped Cream album and lusted over the gal on the cover, and enjoyed the music as well.

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