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Opinions: most "iconic" TJB song?

Discussion in 'The Beat of The Brass: Herb Alpert/Tijuana Brass' started by Aaron Bitman, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. Aaron Bitman

    Aaron Bitman Member Thread Starter

    What TJB song would you consider the most "iconic"?

    Here's what I mean by the question: Imagine you're talking to people who, as far as you know, don't know anything about Herb Alpert. (Possibly, years ago, some of these people might have heard "Spanish Flea" in The Dating Game, or that sort of thing. But you don't know.)

    Anyway, after a brief explanation of the TJB and whatever aspect of their music you like - or perhaps without even any explanation at all - you have a chance to play just ONE song to give them an idea of what it sounds like, and what you love so much about Alpert's music. You hope to choose one song that some people will like, so that, on their own, they might choose to hear it again, and check out other TJB songs. What one song would you choose?

    When I was a child, I would have answered "El Presidente". I'm not sure why, as it was never a particular favorite of mine. Maybe it's because it has a feel like that of "The Lonely Bull" (whose iconic status is obvious), but sounds a bit more professional.

    Today, which song would I choose? I'm sure of one thing: I'd want it to have a clearly audible part for the marimba, as I regard the marimba a fundamental part of TJB music. (You're obviously free to disagree with me on that point.)

    So... again, what would I choose? At the moment, I'm tentatively saying "A Taste of Honey". That was the song that put Alpert on the map, after all. But I could be persuaded to choose some other song.

    And again, I'm emphasizing the word "iconic". There are some excellent songs ("Zorba the Greek", "Magic Trumpet", and "Five Minutes More" come to mind) that don't sound typical enough of TJB music to give people a good impression of what it's all about, in my opinion. (Again, feel free to disagree.)

    So... would anyone like to express any thoughts?
  2. For a demonstration in *musicianship* of the entire, *real band*: DON'T GO BREAKING MY HEART.
    Every part gels just right in place and...Nick takes all other drummers to school.
    It's a "grown-up" example of their versatility beyond the (early) Ameri-achi novelty.
  3. I'd suggest two for consideration:

    "What Now My Love" - a big hit single from a big hit album. It comes from that rich "middle period" when the Brass was firing on all cylinders.
    "The Work Song" - another big hit from that middling period, and used for the all-important opening video in the BEAT OF THE BRASS TV special.

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    Bobberman likes this.
  4. DeeInKY

    DeeInKY Well-Known Member

    You could certainly make a case for either "A Taste of Honey" or "What Now My Love." I'd also toss out another one here - "Lollipops and Roses." Always loved the sound of that one.
    Bobberman likes this.
  5. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    For me my candidates for the most iconic TJB songs would be Whipped cream for its use one of several themes for "The Dating Game" and Tijuana Taxi. And Maybe "Zorba The Greek" to me these three are truly definitive of the TJB sound and easily identified.
  6. Another left-field choice I'd take: A BANDA.
  7. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    There are probably half a dozen or so that I would say are instantly identifiable as being the TJB.

    Although "Mexican Shuffle" put the TJB on the map, some tracks were used in televisions shows, and a lot of hits like "Tijuana Taxi" are something that most people know, I think what may be the most iconic is "A Taste of Honey." The arrangement was like a blueprint for popular TJB arrangements that would follow. It was a charting hit. Plus, it led off the most popular album in the TJB catalog.

    I don't think that many listeners (outside of anyone who knows the TJB's songs like we do) identify with "What Now My Love" to the extent of the other hits. Gauging it by airplay on the satellite stations, back when I had XM Radio, it wasn't played at all.
    Bobberman likes this.
  8. My choices were based on OP Aaron's criteria that you were going to pick one song to demonstrate why you liked the TjB, and that the listener was nearly completely a novice on the subject.

    He also said that the more cutesy, novelty type tuned weren't what he was looking for. So I considered "A Taste Of Honey", and was going to post that, but then I realized that it was recorded before the touring Brass, and that I'd want to show off what the "familiar eight" could do.

    Flea and Taxi are somewhat novelty tunes, so I picked from WNML and SRO, where I really felt the TjB was a cohesive group firing on all cylinders.

    But yes, you can't get any more iconic than Bull, Shuffle, Honey, Taxi, and Flea.
  9. Nathan Strum

    Nathan Strum Member

    I'd have to go with "Gotta Lotta Livin' To Do". It has bits and pieces of everything - marimba, trombone, Herb vocally dubbing some horn parts, a little shout in there ("Hey!"), a fantastic groove, and it sounds great driving down the road with the sound cranked up and the window rolled down. I love Herb's playful opening and how it interplays with the guitar. And I never, ever tire of listening to it. :phones:
  10. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    That's it, in a nutshell.

    "Iconic" is a way-overused (and misused) term today and as I take it, would stand for something that totally represents what a subject is about--something embodying the spirit, the essence, what the subject means to society as a whole, and something completely recognizable. It has less to do with individual feelings about it. Everything and anything can't be "iconic." That is like claiming everything is "the best." The media today slaps that label on anything that is popular, which is wrong. Picking personal favorites is also not "iconic"--it's a subjective opinion only, which is all I see in this thread. Lesser-known hits and album cuts are nowhere near "iconic" in that context.

    I am no longer following this discussion.
  11. Agreed about the word "iconic" and its overuse. Maybe its because every day, billions of people use "icons" many times in their daily lives on their devices. Language is a strange thing, and always evolving. I just wanted to answer the OP in the spirit of what he was trying to ask.
    toeknee4bz likes this.
  12. It's difficult to zero in on one song that I would consider iconic when listening to the TJB. I suppose I would have to separate them by tempo, as strange as that sounds. Herb himself mentioned it numerous times in the signature series. The most iconic songs fit into the 4/4 time shuffle that Herb enjoyed and mentioned that his arrangements were inspired by Louie Prima: Mexican Shuffle, Taste Of Honey, Lollypops and Roses, Tijuana Taxi, Spanish Flea, I'm Getting Sentimental Over You, Brasilia, Mexican Road Race, Sand Box, Darlin' etc...Mexican Road Race, in particular, has a feeling that captures the Brass' sound, for me anyway. It gives me goosebumps. The next category would be any of the Brazilian-inspired rythms such as Desafinado, Girl From Ipanema, Green Peppers (which is really 4/4 time, Bo Bo is the same style) What Now My Love, Got A Lot Of Livin' To Do, The Love Nest, Jingle Bells on the Christmas Album, The Robin, The Sea Is My Soil etc... He parodied the styles on "Carmen". Lonely Bull and El Pesidente kind of started a trend but not quite. The fast paced Zorba and Town Without Pity are also iconic. The Tijuana Brass sound is seared into my memory from when I was a child. I can remember how excited I was to watch the first TV special in 1967. I was 5. I wasn't able to watch the other two but recently discovered that the piggy backed the first one and Beat of The Brass on YouTube, Still looking for the Brass Are Commin'. So happy to talk about Herb and the Brass and find fellow fans!! So glad to be able to start collecting the "Herb Alpert Presents" re-issues!! Happy to join all of you in the discussions.
    Acapulco 1922 likes this.
  13. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    "Welcome to The Forum Gustavo!"
  14. martin

    martin Active Member

    From the TJB period, I agree that the most iconic song would be "A Taste Of Honey". As for Herb solo (and a new generation of fans) I suppose "Rise" would be a good choice. It is strictly not a TJB song of course, but it still identifies Herb Alpert to a lot of people.

    - greetings from the north -
    toeknee4bz likes this.
  15. A Taste of Honey. No question.
    toeknee4bz likes this.
  16. Steven J. Gross

    Steven J. Gross Well-Known Member

    Spanish Flea
  17. Spanish Flea (HA &TJB) as is most widely recognised and Rise (HA solo).
  18. Aaron, I can't understand why people are having difficulty with this. You stated your desire clearly in your third paragraph, yet people continue to focus on "iconic." If you'd like, we could change the title.
  19. Aaron Bitman

    Aaron Bitman Member Thread Starter

    Thanks, but that's OK. I think I got what I needed: many people's perspectives. Because of this thread, I considered more songs - especially "What Now My Love" but several others as well. Of course, I had heard all those songs hundreds of times, but now I could listen to them in a different light, considering aspects of them that had never occurred to me before.

    As a result, I'm less certain than ever. After pondering the matter a while, I'm still sticking with "A Taste of Honey", but when I do get a chance to try to sell Alpert's music, I might, on a whim, choose one of your other suggestions, depending on what kind of audience I'm dealing with at the time.

    If I ever want to ask a similar question in the future, maybe I should find a word other than iconic. "Representative," perhaps?
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
  20. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    I for one had no problem with this at all I always enjoy a challenging thread once in awhile. And i felt this was very topical and fun.
  21. Steven J. Gross

    Steven J. Gross Well-Known Member

    The reason I picked Spanish Flea over others is because it was written by our late friend Julius Wechter, who is TjB royalty...
    Bobberman likes this.
  22. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    This is a tough question, actually, because to me some of the other TJB songs besides the most well-known ones would make a better demonstrator of the band's sound.

    For a great demo of the tightness of the band, you can't do any better than "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." They just rock that song, making it their own jazzy foot-tapper, compared to the slow torchy song it had been up to then. Another go-to of mine among the non-hits is "Freckles," from the What Now My Love album. That tune has all the TJB's best features: Great trumpet, killer Julius marimba work, and not a song most people have heard a million times.

    I guess my point is, if you were trying to expose the TJB to a newbie, you don't necessarily need to start out with one of the biggest hits, since a newbie might not have ever heard those songs anyway. You might want to start with something that might appeal to a listener from today -- that's why I like "Sentimental" especially, it has a timeless sound to it.

    Having said all that, I do agree with Harry's list of the most iconic songs.
    Bobberman likes this.
  23. Aaron Bitman

    Aaron Bitman Member Thread Starter


    I didn't mention it yesterday, but when I listened to "What Now My Love" considering it for "icon" status, I suddenly got a craving for "Freckles". (The reason for my association is obvious.) And when I did, I thought: Why can't this be good for selling Alpert's music? I mean... it's just plain fun, and it certainly fills my "marimba" requirement.

    And I do love it when "Sentimental" goes wild at the end, especially the drums.
  24. See: ironically, like the group the TJB "paralleled" in the '60s (THE BEATLES), their sound *changed* over such a relatively short time..."confining it" to ONE moment in their growth would be a DIS-service to their talents.
    I mean: no one would "define" the Beatles based-on I Want to Hold Your Hand(?); just as, likewise: to limit Herb/the TJB to, either, the Wrecking Crew recordings or the "Ameri-achi" ('62-'65) stuff...reduces them to sounding like a "lounge act" (to the uninitiated/casual listener) and ignores the fact that: THIS was once even considered "Progressive JAZZ" (by no-less-than VARIETY, in 1967).
  25. Something I noticed today while watching the First Television Special, and also skimming through the BEAT OF THE BRASS special is that BOTH of them used "What Now My Love" as the closing theme music. I think that indicates that at least back in the day, that song was sort of a signature tune for them. I just wanted to add that tidbit to this thread.
    DeeInKY and Bobberman like this.

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