🎵 Classic AOTW Baja Marimba Band WATCH OUT! SP 4118

What is your favorite song?

  • Portuguese Washerwoman

    Votes: 5 22.7%
  • The More I See You

    Votes: 2 9.1%
  • Sabor A Mi

    Votes: 2 9.1%
  • Yours

    Votes: 2 9.1%
  • Cast Your Fate To The Wind

    Votes: 1 4.5%
  • Somewhere My Love

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Gay Ranchero

    Votes: 1 4.5%
  • Spanish Moss

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Telephone Song

    Votes: 2 9.1%
  • Tomorrow Will Be Better

    Votes: 5 22.7%
  • Ghost Riders In The Sky

    Votes: 2 9.1%

  • Total voters
    22

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I've just updated the poll to allow you to change your vote. Mine had been listed as "Yours", but I've decided I like "The Portuguese Washerwoman" more.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
The Cover…

The conventional cover suggests a working, identifiable band in the traditional sense, which also affords easy participant identification as the working group begins to take shape. Nevertheless, in 1966, while transitioning to their well-known 9-member crew, there appear to be some provisional BMB versions:

The LP, for instance, shows 7 visible members — 5 of which eventually became established band members: Guitarist DeCaro is seated. Standing Left to right is Julius, drummer Devito, an unknown, reed player Bernie, guitarist Bud, and an unknown fair-haired gentleman on the end who, along with Bud, look to be a good 15+ years older than everyone else present.

The 9-member crew on the rear cover are donned in their familiar white uniform getup, which may have been their first band uniform (I was unable to locate that cool bus photo…). Given A&M has a promo photo of this group, for all intents and purposes this was probably the first incarnation of a stable BMB lineup. The 5 identified musicians from the front cover appear present here; however, the remaining 4 are unknown to me.

Baja-66.png



Another photo of the 9-member crew appears to be from later in 1966 (before Head’s Up!). In this photo, Lee (sans his flat cap), Dave and Curry are present — with the gentleman front and center the last unknown member. (We can presume he is a bassist given Mel appears absent.)

BAJA-66a.jpg



The Songs and Performances…
  • Portuguese Washerwoman. The fender bass has that "BMB sound" from ’67 onward — suggesting Mel may be playing. Quaint piano and drum break.
  • The More I see You: The trad jazz is subdued somewhat (they should’ve had Chris Montez add his soprano stylings to liven things up a notch).
  • Sabor A Mi: Very memorable. On a cursory level, Bernie’s flute is as evident as Julius as the two instruments play in tandem or in the call-and-response manner that is a hallmark of BMB arrangements. The second time around on the bridge where the bone solos is memorable. We also here those ghostly voices. This has a nice false ending.
  • Yours: Notable for electric piano and more souped up electric bass. The drawn out coda is nice.
  • Cast Your Fate to the Wind: This is one of those songs that you just can’t mess up. We Five and The Sandpipers both successfully covered it and the BMB’s slow, prodding version is uniquely memorable. Dig that electric guitar building one of the releases.
  • Somewhere My Love: This one takes us into Ray Conniff territory. My grandma would have liked it; if this was 1972, I’d cue it up for her…otherwise, no thanks.

  • Gay Ranchero: This is more like it. That two-beat county fair arrangement is fun right off the bat. Good side 2 opener.
  • Spanish Moss: Julius’ only contribution on this LP. It’s OK. The arrangement required some work — but the melody is not as memorable as some of his other offerings.
  • Telephone Song: Good preview of things to come. This kind of interplay will soon define the group, particularly, 1968-69. Julius and Bernie trade fours on this pseudo bossa. It’s light and nifty, I diagrammed it: INTRO AB AB’ Release AB AB’ Release INTRO OUT+Release [A=8, B=4, B’=8, Release=7]. Julius nicely recycles the release into the coda. I like the arrangement. Good job all around.
  • Tomorrow Will Be Better: Herb’s melancholy piece is deeply reminiscent of Sol Lake’s wonderful songs. Definitely arranged by Herb (listen to that electric guitar and those strings — this could pass for an outtake from SOTB). Bud gives us one of those More and More Amor guitar-tag endings. One wonders what Herb was experiencing to write such a doleful number — the title of which was surely significant.
  • Ghose Riders in the Sky: Good ending. Herb will give us his own take on an fast 2-beat soon enough on Town Without Pity. Note the Taste of Honey inspired break!
With five musicians eventually securing permanent roles in the band, the overall feel starts to transition to the familiar BMB sound, which will culminate with that ’68 "sweet spot" period.

The inclusion of only 1 Julius original is notable — suggesting that Herb at the time may have selected his best available songs. Although reviewing WNML and SRO, however, doesn’t seem to support that idea; so either Herb had dibs on a few others or Julius simply hadn’t any available. Whatever the reason, such an absence would seem to strongly suggest Julius wasn’t going to issue any filler, which is an admirable quality in "the biz" (given the other end of the biz attracted the likes of we’re-only-in-it-for-the-money figures like Morris Levy, Allen Klein, Clive Davis, et al).

As we move into 1967 the BMB, as we would really get to know them, would solidify and the forthcoming LPs soon start to shine above and beyond… For those of who find the time frame SP-4108 (or SP-108 for you purists) to SP-4125 the cat’s meow of A&M’s golden period (I mean what could be wrong with TJB, BMB, B66, Longet and the Sandpipers…well except for SP-4115, SP-4120— but that’s another story), then head’s up to the next BMB release — otherwise BMB’s shimmering gems still await.
 

Mr Bill

Gentlemanly Curmudgeon
Staff member
Moderator
The guy in the center next to Frank looks like he may be the guy at the right on the front cover... and he may actually be Mel Pollan in both photos. He may not seem to be Mel as he's clean shaven on the cover and in this photo, given that Mel was always (after that) unshaven and scruffy looking.

--Mr Bill
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Here's something I never noticed... the liner notes say there are NINE musicians in the band, but a head count of the front cover only shows eight guys, and that's counting the one "taking care of business" in the back row. There are indeed nine guys on the back cover, so I wonder if one or two players were just not available that day?
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
The guy in the center next to Frank looks like he may be the guy at the right on the front cover... and he may actually be Mel Pollan in both photos
They're both fair; however, in the later BMB photos, to me Mel appears much younger and he has a full head of hair; so, I don't think it's Mel.

Here's something I never noticed... the liner notes say there are NINE musicians in the band, but a head count of the front cover only shows eight guys, and that's counting the one "taking care of business" in the back row. There are indeed nine guys on the back cover, so I wonder if one or two players were just not available that day?
My thoughts are that group membership still had not yet been solidified. Also, I think the two unknowns on the front cover are different musicians than the unknowns in the two promo photos. The only thing I'm sure of is that the rear cover photo and the first promo photo are the same musicians.

I think Lew McReary is next to Frank
In the lower photo between both Franks? Yes, based on a couple internet photos just perused, I would say that's a good match.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Also, I think the two unknowns on the front cover are different musicians than the unknowns in the two promo photos.
A&M has also been known to pull in a label staffer or two to fill in a group, like they did on the first BMB album. 😁
 

TjbBmb

Well-Known Member
Funny coincidence happened today. I was at my record store and on the curb outside for garbage was a box of records. As I flipped through them I saw an A&M 45. Turns out it was a BMB single. Sabor A Mi b/w Ghost Riders. Or was it the other way around...?
 
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