!Shoot-out! TjB vs. BMB -- Round VII: 1970-71 (Final Round)

Select the group that in your opinion issued the best LP during 1970-71

  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

    Votes: 8 72.7%
  • Julius Wechter and the Baja Marimba Band

    Votes: 3 27.3%

  • Total voters
    11

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Years 1970-71. The TjB was officially disbanded; Herb Alpert continued to experiment with new musical ideas in the recording studio albeit under no obvious media or sales pressures; and the BMB continued performing. Both LPs from the period featured personnel changes and, predictably, different musical textures.

If Warm was Herb’s first "non-TjB sounding" LP and TBAC was cut as a quasi-retro piece for the fans then what was Summertime? Well, apparently, a collection of recordings during 1970-71 that may or may not have been initially intended for an LP. The fact that the LP is credited to "…and the Tijuana Brass" is further confusing given Herb formally dissolved the group at the end of 1969.

For all the talk floated in the early 1970s of Herb’s chops being compromised these 1970-71 sessions conversely exhibit his most metallic, direct, and downright pretty tone since S-R-O. True, it’s not full-bodied, but the depth and ease of imagination he displays in his playing suggests he reached a goal of sorts: generating a casual, personal if not intimate sounding horn (akin to an extension of a speaking voice) — a sound that he seemed to have been struggling with since Ninth. Stepping out of the limelight, Herb’s 1970-71 music is highly reflective and personal, which is very different from all the previous LPs (including Warm). For this reason, Summertime aligns well with Just You and Me (1976). In light of this, the musical progression following Pisano and Ruff’s Under The Blanket (1970), to which Herb made significant contributions, seems musically logical.

As an LP, Summertime, which failed to make the Top-100, exhibits an early '70s singer-songwriter vibe. For example, finger-picking acoustic guitar has replaced the famous 12-sting electric that defined the GP—WNML—SRO TjB heyday; additionally, electric piano (which Herb started to use on TBAC) with its characteristic muffled sound has replaced the bright string-hammered attack of the traditional piano.

Relative to their 1968-69 LPs, the BMB 1971 LP, As Time Goes By, sounds like an LP virtually anyone with adequate chops could have cut and issued -- given BMB musical personality is clearly absent. Sadly, the exciting De Vito—Pollan rhythm team has been replaced with session players just reading charts. The horns on the LP are also devoid of any BMB character. The music is overall very good, but the performances are just not riveting in a BMB sense — rather, there's an absence of tension and release (i.e., musical emotion) that helped to elevate San Jose, Those Were The Days, and Fresh Air over its predecessors. Partnering with Roger Kellaway, the LP is predictably keyboard-heavy. It’s a good LP, but frankly, just lacks any BMB identity and charisma.

So who from the both groups is present on these LPs? The TjB LP probably has Bob; I’m less sure about John and Nic (I don’t hear their artistic mannerisms — then again, this music is largely different so, each could have accommodated their new roles). For the BMB rest assured the horns and drums and bass and all different. We know Curry was kicked out of the group sometime after Fresh Air. With Kellaway leading the charge the musicians could all be his associates or nameless session cats. It does seem odd, however, that although the BMB was touring into 1970-71, their next LP would seemingly not feature the group.

Vote your poll choice and tell us a bit about why you made your selection.

Summertime (SP 4314) — As Time Goes By (SP 4298)

bmb.jpg


herb.jpg
 

AM Matt

Forum Undertaker
Also the remake of The Beach Boys 1967 song "Darlin'" (done by Herb Alpert) ran 2:50 on the original album version but the CD from Herb Alpert Presents is 4:10 in length!!
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
SUMMERTIME is my choice. It was a surprise album that I never expected after the big disbanding announcement. Yet here was a new album from Herb and somebody. Was it the old Brass? Probably not. It was still good though.

The BMB album didn't come into my life until much later. I like it, but not as much as SUMMERTIME.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I really like herb's 1970-76 music and on Summertime he's playing devoid of TjB-associated stress... It's free and easy. The openers on both sides are A+. Julius' number is great while I'll take Herb's cover of If You Could Read My Mine to the hit version in a heartbeat.

Julius' LP is solid (except the first cut, which is awful with a capitol A...man, those girlies singers are hideous), but it's just an LP I don't return to like Summertime. (Also, I'm not a fan of Kellaway -- so that doesn't help matters.)
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Another tough one but Herb's Summertime gets the vote here I got my first copy of the vinyl in 1985 and later the HAP CD As Time Goes By was one of the Last BMB albums to complete my collection as I finally tracked it down in 2006 after frustrating searches I love both LPs the BMB entry I noticed was a Departure from the Usual sound but yet still a very good album it could be that Julius took a cue from Herb when Herb was getting away from his usual formula just an opinion on my part however on Summertime I think a few of the TJB regulars like Pisano and Ceroli might have participated but adapting to different circumstances and both albums appear to used More Session Players than the previous few albums preceeding them nevertheless they are both still enjoyable to listen to equally
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Both albums are a mixed bag for me, somewhat uneven, but at least they signaled positive change for both artists. The title track of As Time Goes By is indeed an instant skip for me as well, but at least it gives way to some much better music. I think if Julius had remained with A&M and been allowed to experiment more, we'd have more tracks like "Samba for Vicky," "Jorjana #1" (a big favorite here) and "Big Noise from Encino," all of which point towards the jazz that Julius was familiar with from the early days. I lucked out in finding a new or nearly new copy of this a couple of decades ago that plays flawless.

Summertime has its highlights, most of all "Summertime" that riffs on the Lambert, Hendricks and Ross version. Clever arrangement, and this is saying a lot from someone who has almost no tolerance for Gershwin and dislikes "Summertime." The ones I skip here are "If You Could Read My Mind" (there's no matching Gordon Lightfoot's original--the song is really nothing without the lyrics IMHO), "Catch A Falling Star," and "Martha My Dear" (not being a Beatles fan, I can do without this one, although the playful horn parts are a plus). I dislike the Beach Boys even more than Beatles, so it's a surprise that "Darlin'" is a favorite.

Close vote here since I have about an equal number of songs I really like on each record.

It's also interesting, looking back at their entire catalog to this point--despite their first albums appearing a couple of years apart and their overall arc of popularity and my own personal peaks of what I like being not overlapping, that they arrived at this same point with two similarly themed albums at nearly the same time.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Well so far, no point deductions for Herb's wardrobe choice, not that the image of Julius is all that flattering either.
SummertimeBasePhoto.jpg
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
The age of polyester is thankfully decades in the distant past. 😁
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
And speaking of Julius' image on that AS TIME GOES BY jacket, is the red, white and green supposed to signify something? It always looked like the colors of the Italian flag to me, but the Italian flag has the colors go horizontally. Looking up this vertical arrangement of red, white, and green, I find that it's the flag of Hungary.

??
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
It's the Mexican flag colors, but turned sideways (probably for artistic reasons).
 

DAN BOLTON

Well-Known Member
Speaking of If You Could Read My Mind...I was initially disappointed that Herb didn't do this one as a vocal, but it works as an instrumental for me. The guitar playing the melody line for the first few bars is rather novel, IMO; and the trumpet/trombone interplay is really masterful. This effort really underscores Herb's ability to make a song his own, since Lightfoot's version is so ingrained in our ears and minds.
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
the Mexican flag colors, but turned sideways (probably for artistic reasons).

Maybe it's a subtle bit of BMB humor -- the Mexican flag turned sideways, kind of like their musical formula was turned a bit sideways for this album.

This shootout is an easy one for me -- the TJB wins it, whether the band is actually on the record or not. I agree with JO's estimation of Herb's playing style becoming more "personal" -- you could always tell it was him, but starting with those later TJB albums you could REALLY tell it.

I didn't get a real appreciation for Summertime until discovering A&M Corner -- the discussions here helped me discover some of the deeper corners of the record. I always liked "Jerusalem" and the title track a lot, but there isn't a track on the album that's an instant skip for me. I usually listen to this album in full.

The BMB album is my least favorite of theirs, and my least favorite song on it is "Spanish Flea." I suppose Julius felt the need to do something completely different from Herb's ubiquitous version and inject some of that BMB humor into the proceedings, but it just didn't work. I like the "slap" at the end that stops the proceedings, that gave me a chuckle. There's not much else on the album that I remember too much, but every time I've listened to it (most recently on YouTube) it's left me pretty cold.

If this shootout was just over the album covers, Julius would win it. It's not one of their "fun" covers, but it beats the very dated Herb cover by a mile. They should have used the BACK cover photo on the front -- it fits the overall mood of the album better.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Speaking of If You Could Read My Mind...I was initially disappointed that Herb didn't do this one as a vocal, but it works as an instrumental for me.
What's funny is how this was the first version I ever knew. It's not bad, really, but I never considered it a favored track either. But when I first really heard Lightfoot's version (beyond hearing it on the radio), and understood the lyrics, it really clicked with me how well melody and lyrics worked together.


I always liked "Jerusalem" and the title track a lot, but there isn't a track on the album that's an instant skip for me.
"Jerusalem" is an odd/interesting track. It's the same simple phrase repeated over and over again so, in that instance, it really doesn't go anywhere. But it is applied to so many different chord changes, it seems like a lot is happening. It's one of those that sneak up on you.

They should have used the BACK cover photo on the front -- it fits the overall mood of the album better.
I can't remember if the poster matched the back album cover, but that poster would have made for a better cover. I mean, it's OK to have Herb on the front but again...that polyester... 🤣
 

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I think you are thinking of the Warm album -- that was the one that came with the poster offer. I think it did indeed match the back cover. (They also offered a head-shot of Herb.) Or maybe there was another poster offer I wasn't aware of?

Warm was another one where I thought the back cover showed more imagination than the front. But, "Herb on a horse" might have put the wrong idea forward for what the album sounded like, I suppose.
 

Mr Bill

Gentlemanly Curmudgeon
Staff member
Moderator
I have to vote for Summertime here.... As Time Goes By was overall disappointing and (with the exception of "Left Field") did not have that characteristic BMB sound.

ATGB has more in common with Kellaway's three A&M LPs. The fact that the previously released non-LP cuts "Picasso Summer" and "Can You Dig It" were not included as was usually the case when a new single preceded an album by a few months, was a strong indicator that this would be something different.

Even the next BMB album, Baja Marimba Band's Back (on Bell Records) while a near return to form for Julius and the boys, fell a wee bit short of the classic A&M BMB sound, but was obvious that many of the original members returned for it (as many did for the Applause! album Naturally in the early 80s).

So here, I much prefer Summertime. I've been playing it in heavy rotation with the two 70's TJB albums; the three play well together IMHO.

I've long been curious about the release of Summertime... It was 1971, a good year into Herb's "retirement." So was this one final album that was in the works before he disbanded the brass, just quickly whipped out for a fast buck or to keep his name out there??? Or was it a bunch of previously unreleased tracks from 1969 to 1970 that were put together, essentially a "prototype" of the distant future Lost Treasures album? And, doing the math, 1971 for Summertime and 1973 for the "Last Tango"/"Fire and Rain" single puts his sabbatical at merely two years -- not the four that are historically noted.

--Mr Bill
 
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