Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"Whipped Cream & Other Delights"

Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass:  “Whipped Cream & Other Delights"
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Original Release Date:  1965 A&M
(My Rating:  4 Stars)

Side One:
A Taste Of Honey
Green Peppers
Bittersweet Samba
Lemon Tree
Whipped Cream

Side Two:
Love Potion No. 9
El Garbanzo
Lollipops And Roses

   “It’s easier to skin an amoeba than to catalog the “Typical Tijuana Brass Fan.”  This is a quote I took right off the back cover of the album, “Whipped Cream & Other Delights,” by Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass.  Apparently back in 1965 it was standard for a record company to print a direct message to the listener regarding the artist they were about to indulge in.  During A&M’s synopsis of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass it’s explained that this group attracted the likes of, “teens, hippies, squares, and little old ladies.”  This statement combined with the obviously, edgy for its’ time…heck, edgy for any time, album cover got my full attention.  I thought, “Heck, count this, “old lady,” in!”
   The only way I can think to describe the album, “Whipped Cream & Other Delights,” is it's an instant time warp back to the 1960’s.  One moment I’m in the year 2016, lighting the end of my incense stick, when all of a sudden the album’s first song, “A Taste Of Honey,” instantly makes this listener feel like she’s at some kind of, “swinging,” party on Haight-Ashbury, circa 196something.  Even before the first whiff of Nag Champa rises out of my burner, I have the overwhelming urge to slap on some serious cat eyeliner, put on the hugest mod style Lanvin pendant I can afford, (which would be none,) and transform my incense stick into a cigarette resting at the end of a very long holder.  Let’s just say, by the end of the first song this listener was ready to change her name permanently to Holly Golightly and refer to everyone in the room as, “Darling.”  Too bad, I would look totally insane doing so considering I was listening to this album in a room by myself.
   However, it’s difficult not to fall into, "party," mode while listening to a record like, “Whipped Cream & Other Delights.”  Not only does this instrumental album full of bright shiny horns, jazzy xylophone solos, and skilled acoustic guitar playing make this blogger want to get out and socialize, it seems the songs presented undeniably dictate the way the mood of a gathering will go.  For instance, much like the first song on the record, “Bittersweet Samba,” and, “Green Peppers,” are both toe tapping numbers that inspired this listener to find the nearest dance partner available.  It's at this time I’d like to formally apologize to my poor cat who experienced only a bitter samba that evening.  Despite my cat’s obvious distress at having to dance with a, “crazy,” lady, I think it’s fair to claim that even he couldn’t deny that Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass is not only a master at music, but also the spaces in between.  An example of this can be found during the song, “Green Peppers,” where there is a perfectly timed pause that inspired this woman to literally shout, “Darling!,” just for the fabulousness of it.
   During a later part of the album the song, “Whipped Cream,” continues the party type vibe while adding an almost comical flair to the mood.  Like the album cover this song has a flirtatious feel to it, however it’s slightly more whimsical than this listener expected.  Here the Tijuana Brass convey a sense of humor, perhaps at the absurdity of the idea of a fantasy woman covered in, “Whipped Cream.”  At this point the record seems to be saying, “Yeah, the party’s gotten a little out of hand.  Now people are naked and slathered in food.  It’s ridiculous, but boy it’s fun!...except for that lady dancing with her cat and yelling, “Darling!” She’s just weird.”
   Finally, I'd like to address the subject of why, “Love Potion No. 9,” is undeniably my favorite song on this album. While I enjoy the, “party,” atmosphere provided by the previous titles I’ve discussed, “Whipped Cream & Other Delights,” also addresses the more intimate moments that can be found during a social gathering.  During the songs, “Ladyfingers,” and, “Lemon Tree,” Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass is able to create a kind of dialogue between instruments that reminded this listener of what it was like to steal private moments of conversation with someone, “special,” while the rest of the room rioted on without you.  It’s these songs that display the more tender side of a group that seems ready to, “rock,” all night long…and, "rock," they do, as clearly displayed by the song, “Love Potion No. 9.”   I guess some listeners may consider this song the, “racy,” one of the album.  Between the measured, “blat,” of the horns, the hypnotic crash of the symbols, and the imagery on the album cover one could question what kind of establishment Herb Alpert was used to having his parties at.  Surprisingly, it’s this song that doesn’t make me feel like I’m at a social gathering.  When I listen to, “Love Potion No. 9,” I feel like I’m at home alone listening to my favorite song getting fired up for an outing.  This song is what I’d like to define as a confidence anthem.  When this blogger hears, "Love Potion No. 9," she knows she a budding socialite who belongs at Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass party wearing a fabulous Lanvin pendant...or not.  Too bad by the end of the album I always find myself back in 2016 wearing absolutely no Lanvin, only Levi's.

"A Taste Of Honey":            

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