Brasil '66 singles

Harry

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And Harry, I was one of those kids who listened to the MOR stations (in my case, KMPC and KFI in Los Angeles and KGIL, San Fernando) as well as the Top 40 stations.
We've discussed this before - my favorite radio station during the late '60s was WFIL-FM, the sister station to the monster WFIL top 40 station. It was practically impossible not to hear some of the broadcasts on that powerhouse AM as you could ride around with the windows open and know what songs were being played, it was THAT popular.

The FM side concentrated on the "nicest music" - that was their slogan. So you wouldn't hear the heavier sounds of top 40 or R&B, just the softer stuff. While the AM station had Beatles and Stones weekends, the FM side did Burt Bacharach weekends.

And my point with Sergio was that all of his records were routinely played on that FM station. It didn't matter to me, the listener, as to whether or not a song was a Billboard hit - I didn't read the magazine and had no access to the charts. All I could glean from listening to "my" station was that these records were pretty big in order to be played as often as they were. And they played all of the Dionne Warwick and Bossa Rio and other soft hits that I wanted to hear.

I intuitively knew of the difference between the AM stuff and the FM stuff - as I say, I could hear it in the periphery everywhere, and I knew that they didn't play much by Sergio Mendes or even Herb Alpert - unless the songs were monster hits. I remember hearing on the FM this nice little song by someone new, someone named Carole King. It was called "It's Too Late". It fit right in with the other "nicest music" that they played and didn't sound out of place at all - I kind of liked it after those early spins.

One day while out at lunch in a pizza joint, I heard the radio playing the WFIL-AM station and on came this new little song that I'd heard on FM. I couldn't believe that this "little song" was making it to the big, powerhouse, AM, but then I didn't yet know of the future status of TAPESTRY and its songs.

Back then the FM station had its supporters too. There were a lot of smaller shops where you'd go in and hear their familiar jingles and their rotation of soft hits and instrumentals, so those Brasil '66 singles got plenty of airtime, whether or not they cracked anyone's list. But like others here, I'd love to know the details behind the split between A&M and Sergio - and would like to throw out another possible factor. A&M, at that stage, was trying to divest itself of its older, softer image. Artists like Claudine and Sergio Mendes and the Baja Marimba Band, all staples of the early days, were basically forced to seek out other labels. Claudine went to Barnaby, Sergio and Julius headed for Bell, and A&M was much more of a rock label from that point onward, while still hanging on to a few softer artists like Carpenters and Lani Hall and the re-formed T.J.B.

Harry
 
Bonnie: Yes, Herb played his own trumpet. But up through WHIPPED CREAM AND OTHER DELIGHTS at least, everything else you hear on a TJB record is the Wrecking Crew, or some assemblage of hired studio musicians. Given that the hook for the TJB was Herb's trumpet and for the Beach Boys, it was their harmonies, I'd say it's even. Herb played on his records, the Beach Boys sang on theirs, and the best musicians in Hollywood backed them all up. Herb never showed a band on his album covers until he really had one, and the the Beach Boys never used a picture showing them with instruments until BEACH BOYS CONCERT (a live album that showed how limited these guys were instrumentally at the time)...so nobody was getting conned.

Frankly, it never was an issue until The Monkees, at which point it became a matter of credibility that a group play its own instruments. Never mind that The Byrds' "Mister Tambourine Man" was a Wrecking Crew project, as was everything by the Mamas & Papas as well as Simon and Garfunkel.
Mr. Alpert was the star attraction and since bands come and go, well nuff said. The problem with groups like the Byrds was they were supposed to be a unit and they were far from it in the beginning. What people were hearing on the albumns was a lie. It's like selling a Ferrari with a VW engine.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Harry, the thing about MOR stations back in the day is that they didn't have precise rotations the way Top 40 stations did. At KMPC for example, the disc jockeys met with music director Alene McKinney before their shifts and discussed what they'd like to play and what she recommended. She kept songs from being ignored or from being played more than once per shift. Of course, KMPC only played about six songs an hour in most shows because of the news at the top and bottom of the hour, personality chatter and 18-minute commercial load.

At automated stations like WFIL-FM, rotations were largely determined by how many reels the automation system had. The real indicator of how big a song was on an MOR station was how long they kept playing it. If it was still getting a daily spin or two after three or four months, it was a big record.
 

Michael Hagerty

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We've discussed this before - my favorite radio station during the late '60s was WFIL-FM, the sister station to the monster WFIL top 40 station. It was practically impossible not to hear some of the broadcasts on that powerhouse AM as you could ride around with the windows open and know what songs were being played, it was THAT popular.

All I could glean from listening to "my" station was that these records were pretty big in order to be played as often as they were. And they played all of the Dionne Warwick and Bossa Rio and other soft hits that I wanted to hear.

Harry
You've hit the nail on the head, Harry. Jerry Moss saw the future when he went to the Monterey Pop festival in 1967. Someone (I forget who) once wrote that Jerry arrived at Monterey the co-owner of a small independent latin-flavored jazz label that used radio play to sell albums. Think about the catalog in June of 1967:

Bob Regan and/or Lucille Starr: Inactive and out of print.
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass: Selling well, but definitely not where music was going.
George McCurn: Inactive and out of print.
Baja Marimba Band: Not selling that well and definitely not where music was going.
Dave Lewis: Inactive and out of print.
We Five: Inactive for two years, working on a comeback album (MAKE SOMEONE HAPPY).
Chris Montez: Never hot, declining in popularity.
Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66: A decent debut in terms of chart success, a sophomore slump and LOOK AROUND hadn't happened yet.
The Sandpipers: Had a moment with "Guantanamera", but lukewarm from there on.
Claudine Longet: So-so sales, not a rock act.

That's it. Every act to have recorded and released an album on A&M as of Jerry's arrival in Monterey. He left determined to be where the action was...rock and roll. There was quiet mutiny (and no small amount of sabotage) over the Carpenters, but Herb put his foot down. It was clear that Lani had protected status even before they went public and Herb...well, it was his label. Everybody else was doomed.

There was also chatter at the time that Sergio was upset with Herb for persuading Lani to go solo...that he believed (despite hiring the future Mrs. Mendes, Grachina) that her departure hurt Brasil '66/'77, and that the relations between Herb and Sergio were strained for those final couple of years.
 

Harry

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WFIL-FM was an interesting case of a near-automation system that later went to near full-automation and then back to live operation. When I worked at what they'd become (WIOQ in 1974), the chief engineer and I would discuss the old days. He told me the incredible story that in its "FIL" days, the station was tightly formatted, as if automated, but live engineers spun actual records and played back reels of DJ voice-track tapes that were made by some of the big AM DJ "stars." His job was to follow the precise format, cuing and spinning records on turntables, or tape carts for some of those singles that burned easily, and it all sounded like a giant automation machine.

By the time I got there, there WAS a giant automation machine, and the format was laid down on computer punch-cards that intermingled the hits and recurrents on cartridge with giant reel-to-reel oldies tapes, with a set of cart bays for the commercials. So in either version of the format, a current, frequent rotator would open the hour, followed by a well-known older track, then an instrumental, a jingle, another current and another oldie. A commercial break of a minute or two would hit at :15. Yes, that was FIVE songs in the first quarter hour! Then four, four and four for the balance of the hour with a quick, recorded news and weather at :45.

On and on the format went, hardly varying for years - to the point where I could almost tell when a song was going to be played again. That top-of-hour current would play again in 3 1/2 hours. And my point for all of this exposition was that many times, those big current slots went to the big new single from Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66. Songs like "Wichita Lineman" and "Ye-me-le", never huge hits in the top-40 circuit, were played every 3 1/2 hours for weeks on end. Repetition like that pounds a song into your brain, so when I hear a "Pretty World" or a "(Sittin' On The) Dock Of The Bay", my brain registers it as a solid old hit record, regardless of whether or not it stiffed on the charts.

Harry
 

Michael Hagerty

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Mr. Alpert was the star attraction and since bands come and go, well nuff said. The problem with groups like the Byrds was they were supposed to be a unit and they were far from it in the beginning. What people were hearing on the albumns was a lie. It's like selling a Ferrari with a VW engine.
A bit harsh, Bonnie. The only track the Byrds used the Wrecking Crew for was "Mister Tambourine Man". Everything else they played on. And the decision to use the Wrecking Crew was the producer, Terry Melcher's.

As for the dozens of other artists who used the Wrecking Crew and other top-notch session players, as I said, until The Monkees, nobody really cared. It was cool that the Beatles, the Stones and the Who played their own instruments, but it wasn't a prerequisite. The most popular acts were using session musicians...Paul Revere and the Raiders, Simon and Garfunkel, the Mamas and Papas, Peter and Gordon, the Beach Boys, the Association and literally everyone on Motown.

No, it was the Monkees and their weekly TV show, clearly lipsynching and pretending to play their instruments () that caused outrage. And within eight months, they had an album out where they played their own instruments (HEADQUARTERS), which was pretty good, but the playing was clearly not as good as before.
 

Bobberman

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WFIL-FM was an interesting case of a near-automation system that later went to near full-automation and then back to live operation. When I worked at what they'd become (WIOQ in 1974), the chief engineer and I would discuss the old days. He told me the incredible story that in its "FIL" days, the station was tightly formatted, as if automated, but live engineers spun actual records and played back reels of DJ voice-track tapes that were made by some of the big AM DJ "stars." His job was to follow the precise format, cuing and spinning records on turntables, or tape carts for some of those singles that burned easily, and it all sounded like a giant automation machine.

By the time I got there, there WAS a giant automation machine, and the format was laid down on computer punch-cards that intermingled the hits and recurrents on cartridge with giant reel-to-reel oldies tapes, with a set of cart bays for the commercials. So in either version of the format, a current, frequent rotator would open the hour, followed by a well-known older track, then an instrumental, a jingle, another current and another oldie. A commercial break of a minute or two would hit at :15. Yes, that was FIVE songs in the first quarter hour! Then four, four and four for the balance of the hour with a quick, recorded news and weather at :45.

On and on the format went, hardly varying for years - to the point where I could almost tell when a song was going to be played again. That top-of-hour current would play again in 3 1/2 hours. And my point for all of this exposition was that many times, those big current slots went to the big new single from Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66. Songs like "Wichita Lineman" and "Ye-me-le", never huge hits in the top-40 circuit, were played every 3 1/2 hours for weeks on end. Repetition like that pounds a song into your brain, so when I hear a "Pretty World" or a "(Sittin' On The) Dock Of The Bay", my brain registers it as a solid old hit record, regardless of whether or not it stiffed on the charts.

Harry
What you described was a very early example of a board op. Where the person does not talk on air but coordinates the pre recorded material. Another term would be semi automation.
 

DeeInKY

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I still can't get my mind around "Subterranean Homesick Blues" being on MOR stations. Can't imagine my dad listening to that.

Not sure why "Wichita Lineman" didn't perform better for Brasil 66. It's certainly a good song. I keep thinking of it as country but they formed it to their style and it sounds great. Glen Campbell's version was a crossover hit - both country and pop.

By the late 60s, FM stations were starting to get popular and the AOR format was showing up. I was listening to WEBN in Cincinnati - arguably the originator of the format - by 68 or 69. They started with classical and jazz, only using rock in "The Jelly Pudding Show" on late night at first and it just expanded from there. So tastes were changing.

(Hey, don't dis the Monkees -says a former pre-teen girl. :laugh:)
 

Michael Hagerty

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I still can't get my mind around "Subterranean Homesick Blues" being on MOR stations. Can't imagine my dad listening to that.

Not sure why "Wichita Lineman" didn't perform better for Brasil 66. It's certainly a good song. I keep thinking of it as country but they formed it to their style and it sounds great. Glen Campbell's version was a crossover hit - both country and pop.

By the late 60s, FM stations were starting to get popular and the AOR format was showing up. I was listening to WEBN in Cincinnati - arguably the originator of the format - by 68 or 69. They started with classical and jazz, only using rock in "The Jelly Pudding Show" on late night at first and it just expanded from there. So tastes were changing.

(Hey, don't dis the Monkees -says a former pre-teen girl. :laugh:)
Dee: I'm sure "Subterranean Homesick Blues" wasn't on MOR stations. My point was the uselessness of the Easy Listening/Adult Contemporary charts in Billboard.

I think "Wichita Lineman" was one of those songs that was defined by the person who originally made it a hit...in this case Glen Campbell. It was also the beginning of the phase where MOR artists doing cover versions of pop hits fell all the way out of favor once and for all. And, let's face it...it's a story told from a male perspective (at least in 1969)...there was a bit of a disconnect hearing it in female voices (again, in 1969...though that didn't hurt Joan Baez with "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"). More than anything, though, I think Mike Blakesley said it. Brasil '66 peaked and was in the inevitable decline.

And don't get me wrong, I like the Monkees. But even they would tell you...they were actors playing members in a band. The recordings were there so they would have something to perform. It wasn't reality TV about an actual, pre-existing band. The outrage over their using session musicians when most pop acts did was just plain dumb.
 

Harry

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What you described was a very early example of a board op. Where the person does not talk on air but coordinates the pre recorded material. Another term would be semi automation.
True - except these guys were genuine first-phone engineers!
 

Michael Hagerty

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True - except these guys were genuine first-phone engineers!
Pretty much had to be in those days, for anything more than a single tower. WFIL had three (directional). So anyone hired to run the FM needed to be able to be the operator on duty for the AM as well.
 

Rudy

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Dee: I'm sure "Subterranean Homesick Blues" wasn't on MOR stations.
We can't really discount the idea that local PDs could like a particular song and would decide to put it into the playlist, regardless of what the format was, as long as the fit was "close enough." Our R&B/jazz/dance station in town was the one that introduced me to The Police, via the album track "Voices Inside My Head." That shouldn't happen either, but it did. (Then again, it was always the more inventive or daring stations that were the first to fall...)

It reminds me of the dreck "easy listening" station our one secretary used to play in the office as background music. It was mostly violins and Muzak-ey stuff, but every so often they'd slip in something that sort of fit. Like when they put Al Jarreau's version of "Teach Me Tonight" into the rotation, only they would fade it just as Sanborn's sax solo would start, as that and the rest of the song were too raucous and upsetting for their white-haired listeners. Definitely a local decision there to slip Al into their playlist.
 

Rudy

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Rosalie Trombley. The Big 8. :wink: There's another that broke records that other stations wouldn't touch, and made them hits. Like "Beth" by KISS.
 

Michael Hagerty

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We can't really discount the idea that local PDs could like a particular song and would decide to put it into the playlist, regardless of what the format was, as long as the fit was "close enough."
Sure we can, Rudy. At least in the case of "Subterreanean Homesick Blues", which is what you were responding to. Let's remember Billboard's own disclaimer:

"Not too far out in either direction, the following singles, selected from the current Hot 100, are the most popular middle of the road records. Rank here is based on relative standing in the Hot 100."

Nothing there says anything about airplay. What this was was someone without a clue who was cherry-picking the Hot 100 for a list he thought was "middle-of-the-road".
 

Michael Hagerty

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Rosalie Trombley. The Big 8. :wink: There's another that broke records that other stations wouldn't touch, and made them hits. Like "Beth" by KISS.
Rosalie was tremendous. Great ears. But the resistance to "Beth" as a single was from Neil Bogart, the president of Casablanca Records. When Rosalie flipped "Detroit Rock City" and played "Beth", it didn't take the rest of radio more than a couple of weeks to follow suit...especially Adult Contemporary PDs like 20-year-old me, who loved the idea that I could be playing a Kiss record.
 

Rudy

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Rosalie was tremendous. Great ears. But the resistance to "Beth" as a single was from Neil Bogart, the president of Casablanca Records. When Rosalie flipped "Detroit Rock City" and played "Beth", it didn't take the rest of radio more than a couple of weeks to follow suit...especially Adult Contemporary PDs like 20-year-old me, who loved the idea that I could be playing a Kiss record.
It doesn't surprise me about Bogart putting pressure on, well, anyone. :laugh: But Rosalie was one of the few who 1) wouldn't take payola and 2) wouldn't be afraid to tell anyone if a record was a stinker. I don't know if it's on YouTube in full anymore, but there was a documentary about The Big 8 that is a fascinating trip through local history, and radio history as well.

Did you ever get a chance to read the book about the history of Casablanca? Incredible, the "stuff" that went on there. Much of it I can't repeat here. :laugh:
 

Michael Hagerty

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It doesn't surprise me about Bogart putting pressure on, well, anyone. :laugh: But Rosalie was one of the few who 1) wouldn't take payola and 2) wouldn't be afraid to tell anyone if a record was a stinker. I don't know if it's on YouTube in full anymore, but there was a documentary about The Big 8 that is a fascinating trip through local history, and radio history as well.

Did you ever get a chance to read the book about the history of Casablanca? Incredible, the "stuff" that went on there. Much of it I can't repeat here. :laugh:
A monster book. And one I'd hate to have to defend in court. Which is why I never quote from it, either, Rudy. :wink:
 

Mike Blakesley

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Did you ever get a chance to read the book about the history of Casablanca? Incredible, the "stuff" that went on there. Much of it I can't repeat here.
There were a few interesting, if more mundane, articles about Casablanca in Rolling Stone over the years. One was all about the Sgt. Pepper soundtrack album, in particular the triple-embossed cover -- RS was all enthusiastic about it until the movie came out and then everyone proclaimed it (not inaccurately) as the biggest turd of all time. They also did a cool piece about Casa's Johnny Carson compilation album, Magic Moments from The Tonight Show.
 

Rudy

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One was all about the Sgt. Pepper soundtrack album, in particular the triple-embossed cover -- RS was all enthusiastic about it until the movie came out and then everyone proclaimed it (not inaccurately) as the biggest turd of all time.
Is that the one that "shipped Gold" and "returned Platinum"? :laugh: Yeah, it was a turd in both the cinematic and musical punch bowls. The only thing I liked from there was Earth Wind & Fire's track (and that came by way of their Best of EW&F Vol. 1 LP).
 

Bobberman

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I remember liking a few of the songs on that Sgt pepper soundtrack And i was a crazy 11 year old and i remember buying that 2 Lp set for $1.99 and i thought that was unusual for a major release with the Bee gees/ Peter frampton and others but i never saw the movie until many many years later then i understood why.
 

Rudy

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The film really was the stinker of the two--I recall reading a few of the tracks on the album were decent Beatles covers, but I think there was a lot of guff from some music fans because the title of the whole thing was treading on sacred Beatles ground. But, I'm pretty sure Casablanca lost their collective shirts on that one. :laugh:
 
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