The Lonely Bull
South of the Border
Whipped Cream & Other Delights
It seems redundant to rerelease Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass' whole catalog since it's readily available at used record stores and thrift shops across the country. But the lure of CDs' deluxe packaging, including extensive liner notes, supersedes the vinyl editions. And speaking as someone who took to Alpert's music the way other '60s babies took to security blankets and stuffed animals, there is something addictive about this music that should be heard again every so often.
Alpert-the A of A&M records-always played with a bright, strong tone, which is the most noticeable aspect of his debut, The Lonely Bull (1962). Despite the catchy mariachi lilt of the title track and pleasant versions of "Desafinado" and "Let It Be Me" most of the album feels like filler. South of the Border (1964) introduces Alpert's skill as an arranger: the title track gets a rock backbeat, "The Girl From Ipanema" does a tango and the Beatles' "All My Loving" paraphrases "I Get a Kick Out of You" in the opening bars.
It's hard to fully appreciate Whipped Cream (1965) in all its splendor when its infamous cream-covered model has been reduced to a five-inch photo. But musically, the 12 food-themed songs-plus two bonus tracks-are often as addictive as the titular foodstuff itself. "A Taste of Honey"'s stop-start arrangement holds up four decades later, as does "Whipped Cream," later known as the theme for The Dating Game. This smash LP's follow-up, Going Places (1965, and scheduled for reissue in June), has a more consistent set of tracks, but this one is no slacker either.
Lost Treasures compiles 22 unreleased tracks from 1963 to 1974, and most of them are worthy contenders. Four of the five Burt Bacharach tunes, including an astounding rip through "Promises Promises," are almost worth the purchase alone. The faux funk of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" might evoke scary images of 1970s key parties, but it's countered by versions of "Lazy Day" and "Alone Again (Naturally)."