🎵 Classic AOTW Baja Marimba Band FOWL PLAY SP 4136

What Is Your Favorite Track?

  • Fowl Play

    Votes: 5 20.0%
  • Summer Samba

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yellow Days

    Votes: 2 8.0%
  • Windy

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Sounds Of Silence

    Votes: 1 4.0%
  • Fiddler On The Roof

    Votes: 1 4.0%
  • Along Comes Mary

    Votes: 10 40.0%
  • She's Leaving Home

    Votes: 3 12.0%
  • Baja Humbug

    Votes: 1 4.0%
  • The Look Of Love

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Rhode Island Red

    Votes: 2 8.0%

  • Total voters
    25

Steve Sidoruk

Founder, A&M Fan Net
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
Julius Wechter & The Baja Marimba Band
Fowl Play
A&M SP 4136

FowlPlay.jpg


Also released as monaural LP 136.

Tracks:

Side One:
1. Fowl Play (Julius Wechter) 2:07
2. Summer Samba (Gimbel - M. Valle - P. Valle) 2:13
3. Yellow Days (A. Bernstein - A. Carrillo) 2:35
4. Windy (Ruthann Friedman) 2:42
5. Sounds Of Silence (Paul Simon) 2:45
6. Fiddler On The Roof (Bock-Harnick) 1:49

Side Two:
1. Along Comes Mary (Tandyn Almer) 2:15
2. She's Leaving Home (Lennon-McCartney) 3:05
3. Baja Humbug (Julius Wechter) 2:35
4. The Look Of Love (Bacharach-David) 2:53
5. Rhode Island Red (David Wells) 2:45

Credits:
ARRANGED BY Julius Wechter
ENGINEERS Levine-Lewy-Gerhardt & Co.
PRODUCED BY Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss
ALBUM DESIGN BY Corporate Head
ART DIRECTOR Tom Wilkes
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Guy Webster
This album is available on 4 & 8 Track Stereo Cartridge Tapes
 

Steve Sidoruk

Founder, A&M Fan Net
Staff member
Moderator
Thread Starter
FowlPlaySP436.jpg

A&M SP 436 Stereo Jukebox Little LP

AlongComesMary862a.jpg

A&M 862 Along Comes Mary b/w The Wall Street Rag promo
single

AlongComesMary862b.jpg

A&M 862 Along Comes Mary b/w The Wall Street Rag picture
sleeve

AlongComesMary8516.jpg

A&M 8516 Along Comes Mary b/w Yes Sir, That's My Baby single
re-issue Canadian pressing

FowlPlay892.jpg

A&M 892 Fowl Play b/w Sounds of Silence single

Fiddler913a.jpg

A&M 913 Fiddler On The Roof, b-side of Sunday Mornin'

Session notes:

6/5/67 Sunset Sound - Wall Street Rag - Julius Wechter - marimba, Curry Tjader - marimba, Frank DeCaro - guitar, Frank DeVito - drums, Bernie Fleischer - flute & piccolo, Lee Katzman - trumpet, Lew McCreary - trombone, Oliver Mitchell - trumpet, Bill Pitman - guitar, Mel Pollan - bass, Don Randi - piano, Tommy Tedesco - guitar, Dave Wells - trombone. (Attached here for lack of a better place.)

6/7/67 Sunset Sound - Yellow Days, Along Comes Mary, Wall Street Rag - Julius Wechter - marimba, Curry Tjader - marimba, Frank DeCaro - guitar, Frank DeVito - drums, Bernie Fleischer - flute & piccolo, Lee Katzman - trumpet, Lew McCreary - trombone, Oliver Mitchell - trumpet, Bill Pitman - guitar, Mel Pollan - bass, Don Randi - piano, Tommy Tedesco - guitar, Dave Wells - trombone.

9/12/67 - Sunset Sound - Original, Windy, Sounds Of Silence - Julius Wechter - marimba, Curry Tjader - marimba, Frank DeCaro - guitar, Frank DeVito - drums, Bob Edmondson - trombone, Bernie Fleischer - flute & piccolo, Pete Jolly - piano, Lee Katzman - trumpet, Oliver Mitchell - trumpet, Lou Morrell - ?, Charlie Chiarenza - guitar, Mel Pollan - bass, Dave Wells - trombone.

10/16/67 - Western Recorders - Yellow Days, She's Leaving Home, Summer Samba, Sounds Of Silence - Charlie Chiarenza - guitar, Joseph DeFione - viola, Harry Hyams - viola, Leonard Malarsky - violin, Sidney Sharp - violin.

More notes: This is the first album credited to "Julius Wechter & The Baja Marimba Band," although the stereo jukebox version cover, shown above, just says "Baja Marimba Band" on the cover, although the disk is printed correctly. Reportedly there are full album covers that also omit Julius' name on the front cover, however, I have never seen one. The Ampex open reel tape (AMX 136) does have the proper credit on it's front cover.
 

Mr Bill

Gentlemanly Curmudgeon
Staff member
Moderator
Steve Sidoruk said:
Reportedly there are full album covers that also omit Julius' name on the front cover, however, I have never seen one.

I have a couple copies of each, my scans (from our own AOTW image file)are here:
sp4136.jpg
sp4136a.jpg


No matter which cover you have the LP contains great music!

In the recording date credits I assume the tune listed as "Original" is either Wechter's "Baja Humbug" or Wells's "Rhode Island Red."

--Mr Bill
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I voted for the title track, "Fowl Play". It's one of those signature BMB tunes!

Harry
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
The BMB starts to hit its high-peak stride with this LP -- while simultaneously overtaking the TjB as the most rewarding non-rock outfit at the label...something they will carry out though to Fresh Air. Their version of She's Leaving Home is the finest I've heard. (It's sincerely touching -- the spartan vocal chorus is romantically bittersweet without being maudlin.)

The jacket is my all-time fave A&M front cover. Can only imagine how the photo session shoot went -- looks like near anarchy. I particularly like the Ladies Rooms sign and the dead chicken being dropped beside what would have to pass as the ugliest basketball goal imaginable. The imagination that went into the cover is inspiring. Cover art like this is far too good to ever win commercial awards (e.g., Grammys, et al) -- it's just too far outside the box.

Great stuff.
 

Mr Bill

Gentlemanly Curmudgeon
Staff member
Moderator
JO said:
The jacket is my all-time fave A&M front cover. Can only imagine how the photo session shoot went -- looks like near anarchy.

BMB Covers are almost always among the funniest on A&M. Of course, Julius and the boys would return for more barnyard fun on the Fresh Air cover -- another tour-de-force image!

--Mr. Bill
 

Mr Bill

Gentlemanly Curmudgeon
Staff member
Moderator
Looking at the recording dates/credits one can see the void left by Bud Coleman's passing. Bill Pitman and Tommy Tedesco filled in admirably and Charlie Chiarfenza was added for the final recording dates.

But looking at the pic sleeve cover for the "Along Comes Mary" single I have to wonder who the fellow all the way to the right in the back row is. Clearly it's neither Coleman or Chiarenza... Pitman or Tedesco, perhaps?

--Mr. Bill
 

rickster

New Member
Yeah, and there always seemed to someone relieving themselves in these covers -- like the guy in the upper right corner . This is a very good release, and it contains one of the BEST covers of any tune I have ever heard, I would even dare say better than the original, Along Comes Mary. Around 2 minutes of pure bliss. WHY was this not a big hit single for Julius? I remember around that time it got a lot of airplay on adult MOR stations (like WNEW-AM in New York) , but never crossed over. What a shame. GREAT production on this track, and listen closely for someone in the band's "yeah" after Julius' last killer unaccompanied break.
 

mexicat

Member
I love this album! "Along Comes Mary" is my pick, but I could easily have chosen any of the others...

Baja Marimbas forever!
 

bob knack

Well-Known Member
Along Comes Mary, all the way!

The cover might be described as The Marx Brothers meet Mariachi.

I have it framed and hanging in my den.
 

audiofile

Member
This is the SRO of the BMB. A great album from start to finish. This was the BMB's peak. I agree Along Comes Mary is the best Baja song ever recorded. I always wondered why it wasn't a hit also. everything about this album is great. I picked Along Comes Mary obviously, but other favorites are Summer Samba, Sounds Of Silence, Look of Love, and Rhode Island Red.

This got me thinking. Rhode Island Red is credited to Dave Wells. Practically every BMB album has one song credited to one of the members. The Odd One: Mel Pollan, In A Vera Cruz Vein: Curry Tjader, Madagascar: Bernie Fleischer, and finally Big Red credited to Frank DeVito. Not that a drummer can't write a tune, but it just gave me that idea that maybe Julius had to give credit to these tunes which Julius wrote because of some contractual agreement? Just a thought..
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Playing FOWL PLAY recently gave me new appreciation for the arrangement on "Windy." This was one of the tracks that was sort-of unwelcome on the early Japanese compilation DIGITALLY REMASTERED BEST. That compilation got so-so reviews from many of us here for including too many covers and not enough of the BMB's originals. "Windy" of course was one of those covers.

But listening to the track the other day brought me new appreciation for the arrangement, particularly the ascending trombone lines in the bridge. Those just knock me out. Though FOWL PLAY was never released digitally or on CD, if you look around you can find the song on all three of the compilations that were released, DIGITALLY REMASTERED BEST, the "American version" of that called THE BEST OF THE BAJA MARIMBA BAND, and the Timeless Music 3-CD comp 36 ALL-TIME FAVORITES.

A mono version can be found at the 7:00 mark in this Side One video:


According to Steve's notes above, on the day that "Windy" was recorded at Sunset Sound (9/12/67), both Bob Edmondson and Dave Wells were credited on trombone.

Harry
 

Silentseason

Active Member
My vote went to Rhode Island, but I agree with the consensus that Along Comes Mary was probably the best cover done by BMB. Absolute powerhouse.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
This got me thinking. Rhode Island Red is credited to Dave Wells. Practically every BMB album has one song credited to one of the members. The Odd One: Mel Pollan, In A Vera Cruz Vein: Curry Tjader, Madagascar: Bernie Fleischer, and finally Big Red credited to Frank DeVito. Not that a drummer can't write a tune, but it just gave me that idea that maybe Julius had to give credit to these tunes which Julius wrote because of some contractual agreement? Just a thought..
"The Odd One". was actually Credited to Bud Coleman. I voted for Baja Humbug as I first heard it featured on the "Family Portrait" Compilation LP also The song "Domingo" on "Heads up" Was credited to Mel Pollan.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Baja-67-late.jpg



The unexpected passing of Bud Coleman in May of 1967 was surely a tragedy for the BMB / TJB community as his guitar and mandolin stylings were instrumental to both bands. Following his passing, the BMB, now a touring outfit, needed to fill the "lead" guitar chair — and they did so with Charlie Chiarenza who could also double on mandolin (no doubt a limiting factor for the vast majority of guitar playing prospects). Though he’s not credited on the LP, he is afforded visual prominence of sorts on both LP front and rear cover photos.


The Cover…

The LP cover seems to indicate a low-budget sub-standard "chicken-gunny sack bagging" operation — occurring in front of a ladies outdoor restroom no less — replete with 55-gallon drums (of only God knows what) and the ugliest basketball goal imaginable, all in a wash of feathers and chickens. What a royal mess! In what is surely their most memorable LP cover yet conceived, Charlie, the new guy, is the only member holding an instrument — a mandolin (a signpost that he replaced Bud) — presumably providing "whistle-while-you-work" music to support the activity at hand.

(As those are actual chickens, I wonder what protective measures the band members took against unwanted pecks! I’d greatly enjoy viewing the multitude of outtakes from the photo shoot.)

Playing With Fowl 🤣
By way of simply conjecture, one can have some unbridled fun attempting to understand the visual madness of it all — which is somewhat straight-ahead given the presence of an obvious visual process flow. Near as I can tell, after securing a chicken, DeCaro drops it "though the hoop" as it were, into a gunny sack readied by Devito. Given Devito fails to bag the bird, Wells is present as a fail-safe point wherein the missed bird is captured and deposited into a back-up gunny sack managed by Mel. (That Mel executes this function on a ladder seemingly suggests such actions are expected to be infrequent.) At this point, definitive process flow regarding the bagged chickens is unclear as the next process step is not visually obvious. (For example, it could be that after bagging a bird, Devito simply tosses the gunny sack into a receptacle off-site.) Although Bernie and Lee form separate legs in the process flow their functions appear similar: each is holding a bird, which suggests additional gunnysack captures from Devito met with failure. In the end, the presence of numerous loose birds would then seem to indicate the overall operation resulted in systemic failure.​
Until this LP cover, I never heard of putting live chickens into gunny sacks! I’m sure the practice was short-lived and was confined to this outing…🥴 Be that as it may, a plausible root cause for the systemic process failure could be assigned to "incompatible occupation". The corrective action of which may regard taking an extended sabbatical. For instance, taking a horseback excursion to San Jose, or sailing the ocean as a merchant mariner under the Mexican flag; and then when good and ready...giving pig farming a go! 🙃


The Songs and Performances…
  • Fowl Play. This Julius original opens the proceedings with a light hearted lilt featuring Devito’s closed stick rolls on woodblock and 4-to-the-beat high piano voicings. The title piece is a solid opener and does well to set the mood for the ensuing LP.
  • Summer Samba: To this day I fail to understand the one-hit-wonderness of the original (all the more given I enjoy Walter Wanderdly’s 1960s Verve cycle). Julius’ version is a notable improvement. I’m going to assume the guitar solo is Charlie. Bernie as always turns in a melodically thoughtful solo — which is challenging to say the least as there’s no room to stretch out on these pop LPs, so he’s got to "make it good" in the 8 bars he gets!
  • Yellow Days: The title of this well-know song is a curiosity in itself. Most of the primary and secondary colors are adjectives and the word, yellow, is not taken to be a positive modifier (typically meaning timid, fearful, or cowardly); so, as a title to represent musical matter, "yellow" days must have a notable meaning that only the writer’s could address. As for the song itself, it’s pleasant (only further underscoring the incongruity of the title). It’s interesting how Devito marks the head with a tiny splash cymbal (I almost wonder if there’s a in-joke there). Bernie takes the lead and the backing aaaahhhhh male voices recall early BMB LPs. After Julius returns from the bridge, we hear Bernie hand-off the melody to harmonica, which makes its first appearance on a BMB song as a lead instrument.
  • Windy: Dig the fuzz guitar "zing" on the opening chord tonic note. Aside from a few notable key changes, one "odd" voicing (concluding the 2nd fragment in the bridge), and the cool link (from the bridge back to the head), it’s a fairly straight read. This song is both likable in its melody and annoying in its repetition, yet one can’t help but enjoy the festive nature which capture the free-spirited, happy-go-lucky disposition of this woman named "Windy".
  • Sounds Of Silence: I like how Bernie’s flute introduces the famous melody while the instantly identifiable guitar part is played by Julius on the vibes. Dig the castanets that release the main phrase on the 2nd pass. Can’t say I fancy this arrangement, but I surely appreciate the detail and performance.
  • Fiddler On The Roof: I don’t think Herb and Jerry would let a BMB LP get out the door without one of their patented 2/4 romps. This one is nicely animated particularly emphasized given the "hook" that Julius added to the arrangement. Short ’n sweet at 1:49.

  • Along Comes Mary: That pounding back beat nearly comes off as a march at times. Good arrangement and ensemble reading. I see we have another phrase release with castanets (why use a good idea only once?). Trouble is when the thing starts to get going, Herb fades it out! Such are the trials and tribulations of pop. At 2:15, it’s clear the band is starting to cook and it would have been best, if possible, to let Bernie, Lee, and Julius solo for a tad. Cal Tjader also covered this one in 1967 over at Verve.
  • She’s Leaving Home: Julius’ arrangement incorporates the feel of Mike Leander’s beautiful orchestral arrangement (which itself was originally written at the request of Paul McCartney). I’d wager the BMB provided the vocals. Using a soprano sax to carry the melody was a good move. Lee’s on flugelhorn. My favourite on this LP. A+
  • Baja Humbug: One can’t miss Curry’s bass marimba, which fills the bottom end at various points during the arrangement. Julius gives us the "major / minor" treatment — a musical approach that Herb liked a great deal. (Also known as "happy / sad" (or in this case, "sad / happy" as the order is reversed here), this feel is all over the TJB LPs. Sol Lake had a feel for this type of musical mood.)
  • The Look Of Love: Curry and Bernie play in unison though several octaves apart on Herb’s and Jerry’s perennial A&M cover at the time. Lee alternates between flugel and trumpet (note how Lee and Wells double track their parts here and there). The ending with the piano is quite nice.
  • Rhode Island Red: Composed by Mel, this piece carries a bit of the Along Comes Mary feel.

Fowl Play and Watch Out! form a solid one-two punch for the listener in preparation for the group’s final four LPs that represent the 1968-71 artistic peak of the BMB’s A&M recording career.
 

Mr Bill

Gentlemanly Curmudgeon
Staff member
Moderator
When I interviewed Frank DeVito a few years back I meant to ask him about the vocals on "She's Leaving Home."

There was speculation here at A&M Corner (years ago) that it may have been The Beach Boys (alone or with the Baja boys as well) since the recording sessions were around the same time Julius was doing session work for them. The vocals definitely have a Beach Boys vibe to the harmonies. And it's not that I'm saying the nine guys in BMB couldn't pull it off, but aside from a couple DeVito vocals and one Wechter vocal, the BMB's vocal efforts were pretty much confined to Hoots and hollers and the occasional "Heeyah!" and "Whoop!"

--Mr Bill
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
There was speculation here at A&M Corner (years ago) that it may have been The Beach Boys (alone or with the Baja boys as well) since the recording sessions were around the same time Julius was doing session work for them. The vocals definitely have a Beach Boys vibe to the harmonies. And it's not that I'm saying the nine guys in BMB couldn't pull it off
Good point: they surely could have pulled it off; however, as the BMB were not vocalists per se, it's guaranteed they would not have mustered such a polished vocal sound. (I can also confidently offer that the vocal parts were not The Beach Boys: From mid-'66 to mid-'68 the group was in increasing turmoil and on a downward spiral given Brian's insurmountable issues with SMiLE and the post-SMiLE LPs (Smiley Smile, Wild Honey and Friends). I've read a great deal about the group during this fascinating period and don't recall discovering any information stating that group members performed session work during this difficult period. Oh, on the '97 Pet Sounds 4-disc box set, you can hear Brian instructing Julius (18-19JAN1966) on switching between two percussion instruments during Let's Go Away for Awhile.
 
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