!Shoot-out! TjB vs. BMB -- Round V: 1968

Select the group that in your opinion issued the best LP in 1968

  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

    Votes: 6 54.5%
  • Julius Wechter And The Baja Marimba Band

    Votes: 5 45.5%

  • Total voters
    11

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
  • Year 1968 was a bit of a disconnect for the TjB: On one hand, from a "TjB" standpoint, aside from a Christmas 45, there were only two singles released — both in early 1968 and both missing the Top-40: the novelty, Carmen (#51) and the rather milquetoast Cabaret (#72). Furthermore, as no more Top-40 hits were forthcoming for the group it could be confirmed that from an AM-radio/Top-40 perspective the TjB Tijuana Taxi ran out of gas by early ’68. Yet, from a mass media perspective, including the new LP’s impressive sales figures, the group was as omnipresent as ever. Then there was the "Herb Alpert…vocalist", issue where it could be argued that 1968 marked the beginning of his watershed period — what with his serendipitous and internationally famous #1 vocal single; yet, its followup vocal, To Wait For Love, was a disappointing #51. Furthermore, although the new LP was a #1 hit, its overarching popularity was surely attributed to the inclusion of This Guy’s in Love with You, which wasn’t even a TjB performance. The LP itself was much better than its predecessor with Sol, Julius, and John Pisano delivering top-notch in-house material.
  • On the other hand, year 1968 saw the BMB issue an LP of substantial achievement: Do You Know the Way to San Jose? was free of throwaways and marginal material — arguably the first time a BMB LP could claim such an attribute. Coming off of a fine year, Julius for the first time was now fully managing the arrangements and in tandem with new producer Allen Stanton the two seemed to ignite the group to heretofore unknown musical heights. Conjecture suggests that Herb’s presumed in-studio absence may have opened up the overall studio environment in an unplanned manner. Too, with Julius’ name now atop the BMB marquee perhaps he began evaluating BMB music in an increasingly thoughtful and personal manner. In the recently unearthed APR1968 interview (provided by TjbBmb), Julius name checks Stanton equally alongside Herb — so Allen’s involvement cannot be understated. (This is surely the case as he produced The Byrd’s third LP, Fifth Dimension (1966), which has become recognized as a pacesetting production in early psychedelic rock music, so he surely brought contemporary engineering and musical ideas into the studio.)
  • Lastly, it could be argued that both groups issued only one LP each in 1968: the TjB’s other release being a seasonal / Christmas-themed album while the BMB’s next LP was apparently largely recorded in early 1969.
  • Vote your poll choice and tell us a bit about why you made your selection.
  • The Beat of the Brass (SP 4146) — Do You Know the Way to San Jose? (SP 4150)
tjb.jpg

bmb.jpg
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I would have to go with the TJB on this one too. Not only does their album contain several of my favorite tracks of theirs (all of the "in house" compositions are top of the heap for me with this album) but it also contains "Monday, Monday," which is a tune that the TJB's version gets almost no respect, but I love it due to Bob Edmondson's performance on it. He makes that song. I've always wondered if Herb wrote those notes out for him or if he just said "go nuts in the background, Bob" and let the chips fall where they may.

The album cover is also one of my favorites of theirs; it's their first gatefold (of the two they would eventually have), presumably to highlight pictures from the TV special of the same name. When I was a teenager I was always extremely curious what would be inside those gatefold jackets, and this one didn't disappoint.

"This Guy's In Love With You," while a great collaboration between Bacharach and Alpert, would have probably never been repeated regardless of what tune Herb chose for a followup. If they'd done "To Wait For Love" more in the style of "This Guy" (sparer arrangement with the bombastic choruses) they would have been criticized for being repetitious, but Herb's voice really isn't suited for uptempo stuff -- although his "The Bell that Couldn't Jingle" is a minor masterpiece. If he'd found something along THAT line, then maybe. But with a tune like "This Guy," it's very hard to make lightning strike twice.

The Baja album is one of my favorites of theirs. It's another one that I heard via ill-fated 8-track tape for a few days until it tangled up, then didn't get it again for a long time. I still only have it on a home-made CD...I never did get the LP. I really like their version of the title song, it's one of my favorite versions of that tune. Side one is definitely the band in high gear, but side two is a weaker lineup of songs. I will say that the BMB seemed be having more fun on this record than the TJB did on theirs, but at the end of the day, the instrumental lineup of the BMB isn't as charismatic as Herb and his trumpet, so the TJB makes for a better listen for me. That's just my two cents, your mileage may vary, but the listener won't go wrong with either of these two albums!
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
BMB hands down.

The TjB LP is pleasant enough and although most of the new songs are quite good the overall ensemble energy is subdued and then there’s all the brouhaha surrounding the vocal number — which isn’t even the TjB. It’s no secret that I never liked the song, its arrangement or performance (and can see why Burt had it locked away in the drawer — where is should have stayed), so to me its inclusion further distances the LP which, itself, is surely a good effort — an improvement over the dismal Ninth — but nowhere in the same league with WNML, SRO or even SL.

The BMB’s LP, on the other hand, was a stellar effort with Julius in 100% control of the arrangements and new producer Allen Stanton with whom to work out new ideas. From DeVito and Mel really digging in on the opening driving minor vamp of I Say a Little Prayer, and Julius’ stereophonic solo feature on Sunrise, Sunset — to the impeccable ensemble timing on Yes Sir, That’s My Baby, and the memorably unique climax to By the Time I Get to Phoenix the LP is a 5-star ride and surely one of A&M best LPs of that era.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Although I love Both LPS equally and this is another toss-up for me I Chose The Beat of the Brass as I heard this in its entirety long before I even knew of the BMB's Release of that year ( I had mine on Cassette taped from the Vinyl via my sister who checked out the record from the public library where she lived back in 1981 that sufficed until I finally got a legit Vinyl copy later) nevertheless the TJB sound had seemed to mature by 1968 while the BMB were evolving more and coming into their own. It wasn't until 2006 when I finally got my Copy of "Do you know the way to San Jose ".and it was a long wait between the late 80s until then and one of 4 albums that were seemingly impossible to obtain or find
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I have to go with the Baja boys on this one.

Herb just sounded tired on Beat of the Brass and I always have found the music uneven throughout, the whole album having a vibe of "been there, done that, and skip the t-shirt please." Not bad music, just nothing much that grabs my attention. I never really warmed to it as a kid either--I still know all the songs quite well but I never really craved listening to it either. Plus, the polarizing "Talk To The Animals" (which worked on a TV special, but not on a record) didn't help the record any.

Still, A&M's first #1 Billboard single came as a result of this record. "Monday, Monday" (the only version of this turd that I can stomach), "Slick," and especially the stellar "Panama," arguably one of their best sessions ever, are the only attractions for me. "This Guy," sure, is a great track, but I tend to listen to that song as part of a Bacharach playlist as opposed to being part of the album.

The Baja album, on the other hand, is even more razor sharp than Fowl Play, the band and especially Julius (on "Sunrise, Sunset") performing a much more solid set end to end. Sure, maybe one or two tunes here don't work ("Phoenix" is an instant skip for me), but the rest are right on the money. There's none of that sense of being tired or burned out that the TJB album suffers from.

The kicker: Including the Christmas Album in the 1968 batch would have sealed the deal with the TJB winning this shoot-out--it's a perennial classic. No holiday was complete without this album and, despite being recorded in the heat of August, the band not only got the spirit of the holiday conveyed, they sounded refreshed and Herb more relaxed on this album than others around this time frame.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
This one's tough. Mike's correct about the cover images. The TjB's picture is classy - probably the classiest ever with the tuxes out in the yellow field. The BMB's picture is still on the comic side and really plug-ugly.

The TJB's album was in support of the TV special of the same name. Those were always a treat to watch - just magical to see the Brass come alive on the television. That said, they lose points for putting "Talk To The Animals" on the album.

Mike again is correct by saying "Monday, Monday" got no respect. It was due to be released as a single and even had a catalog number, but no pressings were ever made that I've heard of. I even filled in with a YouTube/Photoshop creation of my own from the mono version of BEAT OF THE BRASS.

I was one of those that absolutely loved "This Guy's In Love With You" and was thrilled that it was included on the album and was getting huge response from hit radio.

But I think song for song, musically, I'm going to go with the Baja Marimba Band this round. When I go looking to play a Baja album, this one is right up there as a good choice.

Very close to a tie here.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
But with a tune like "This Guy," it's very hard to make lightning strike twice.
True. It also had the momentum of the TV special, and callers asking their local TV stations or the network where they could buy the record. The timing of everything fell into place, and having sat at #1 for four weeks makes it more like a national phenomenon since it was grabbing the public's attention for a month, pulling in record buyers who weren't necessarily fans of Herb or the TJB, but were attracted to that perfect combination of performer and songwriters that struck a nerve with all of them.

On the other hand, I'm probably the only person on the forum who likes "To Wait For Love." 🤣
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
The TjB's picture is classy - probably the classiest ever with the tuxes out in the yellow field. The BMB's picture is still on the comic side and really plug-ugly.
I have wondered if anybody ever bought a BMB album based on their funny covers and were disappointed that the album just contained....regular music as opposed to some sort of comedy.
 

bob knack

Well-Known Member
This one's tough. Mike's correct about the cover images. The TjB's picture is classy - probably the classiest ever with the tuxes out in the yellow field. The BMB's picture is still on the comic side and really plug-ugly.

The TJB's album was in support of the TV special of the same name. Those were always a treat to watch - just magical to see the Brass come alive on the television. That said, they lose points for putting "Talk To The Animals" on the album.

Mike again is correct by saying "Monday, Monday" got no respect. It was due to be released as a single and even had a catalog number, but no pressings were ever made that I've heard of. I even filled in with a YouTube/Photoshop creation of my own from the mono version of BEAT OF THE BRASS.

I was one of those that absolutely loved "This Guy's In Love With You" and was thrilled that it was included on the album and was getting huge response from hit radio.

But I think song for song, musically, I'm going to go with the Baja Marimba Band this round. When I go looking to play a Baja album, this one is right up there as a good choice.

Very close to a tie here.
I thought Monday, Monday was a killer. Especially the rhythm section. I'm surprised it wasn't promoted more. Maybe the length kept it off MOR radio.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
On the other hand, I'm probably the only person on the forum who likes "To Wait For Love." 🤣
Nope. Count me in on that one - and I prefer the mono single version too.
I never though I would say this...but after 45 years...I'm beginning to like this one -- the monaural version.

Herb sounds more definitive with his delivery (not so "sway-ey" like on This Guy and not so "mumbly" like on Without Her). Next task: locate a suitable mono version to substitute onto my Warm CD (i.e., make a Warm CD-R)!
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
I never though I would say this...but after 45 years...I'm beginning to like this one -- the monaural version.

Herb sounds more definitive with his delivery (not so "sway-ey" like on This Guy and not so "mumbly" like on Without Her). Next task: locate a suitable mono version to substitute onto my Warm CD (i.e., make a Warm CD-R)!
"Burn" it! 😄
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
I never though I would say this...but after 45 years...I'm beginning to like this one -- the monaural version.

Herb sounds more definitive with his delivery (not so "sway-ey" like on This Guy and not so "mumbly" like on Without Her). Next task: locate a suitable mono version to substitute onto my Warm CD (i.e., make a Warm CD-R)!
I've always liked it to me it was just as good as "This guy" but just slightly a step up this is one of those " it grows on you over time" type songs.
 

Mr Bill

Gentlemanly Curmudgeon
Staff member
Moderator
This is one where I can't pick a winner. I love them both equally. I suppose if I was a "Talk To The Animals" hater I'd give the edge to Julius and the boys, but I am quite fond of "TttA" in that we get to hear what the band member's voices sound like.

On San Jose I am partial to "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde" and Julius's masterpiece "Sunrise Sunset." It is not only an amazing listen, but if you watch videos of Julius performing it, you clearly see a master marimbaist at work.

So on this one I feel I must abstain from voting. But since I CAN'T do that, I will go with the TJB simply because of my love for "Talk To The Animals" :wink:

--Mr Bill
 

Captaindave

Well-Known Member
I remember posting some comments about The Beat Of The Brass album back in 2009 when it was being discussed in an AotW Classics thread. I thought it might be interesting to go back and copy that post below as my thoughts about Beat Of The Brass (my comments are in the quotes and italics below)....

"This is one of my favorite TJB albums, although I like them all.

Here, the sound has matured from the novelty Ameriachi sound of LB to a highly polished, pop/jazz influenced, tuxedo wearing, smooth and classy Top 40 hit producing, best of American popular music bands. Long journey here from Tijuana bull rings...

The song that did it for me on this album was Slick, because it symbolized the cool and classy sound and presentation that the TJB had developed by this time. I remember them playing it in concert in 1968 - it was like the sound had finally completely grown up and matured, and the progression and evolution of the TJB as one of the truly major artists and huge musical sounds and styles during that decade had finally arrived - in that song. But, I also like others such as Panama, The Robin, Monday Monday, and, of course, This Guy's...was the biggie hit of the era.

For anyone fortunate enough to have been around then and old enough to have gone to some concerts and seen all this when it was actually happening at its peak...you will relate to my meaning.

If you were alive at the time and coming of age as I was, you will know what I mean and remember the times well...this album was a milestone in the history of this artist. It is a "period piece" for its time - 1968."

I still have the same opinion today.
 
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