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⭐ Official Review Summertime [Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass]

Rudy

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Release information

Vinyl: SP-4314 (US)
CD: forthcoming (tentatively April, 2016)

Purchase

Locate CD on: forthcoming
Download from: Amazon | iTunes
Locate vinyl on: eBay

The December, 2015 release marks the first time that the Summertime album will appear in digital format. Digital download and streaming release date was December 4, 2015, with CD to follow in early 2016.
 
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Rudy

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December 4, 2015 marks the day that the last "original" Tijuana Brass album, Summertime, was released in digital lossless form, for the first time. It will be released on CD in early 2016.

As with any recording that is decades old, sound quality can be variable. The worst of the age-related issues on this recording are minimal--just the occasional tape dropout at times, and they are barely audible. There is also the very slight dulling that occurs with magnetic tape over time, something many listeners would not even notice, but might reveal itself in close comparison to the vinyl copy if the listener is equipped with better playback equipment.

Beyond that, this is quite a nice sounding recording, and it is a very welcome release to have on digital. I am not sure which studio this was recorded at, but it certainly was not Gold Star. The sound here is cleaner and more direct--check out the acoustic guitars on the later tracks on the album, and especially the demo-worthy sound quality of the title track, which is centered around a small jazz combo. (I have often used the vinyl version of "Summertime" as a demo track, just due to how well it was recorded.) The only notable exception is the sound on "Hurts So Bad" which always struck me as odd--it has a "tubby" sort of sound to the drums and bass.

Musically, it has the usual mix of songs from different eras, done up in typical Tijuana Brass style of arranging. There are more current tunes such as "Hurts So Bad," Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" (done up here in a nice acoustic rendition), Paul McCartney's "Martha My Dear" from the Beatles' self-titled album, and the Beach Boys' "Darlin'," while tunes such as "Strike Up The Band" and "Catch a Falling Star" come straight out of the American popular songbook.

There are of course the usual originals by the TJB family, including "Montezuma's Revenge" by Sol Lake, "The Nicest Things Happen" by the Wechters, and Alpert's own "Jersualem" which one of the albums more popular tracks. One notable tune is Alpert's rendition of Gershwin's "Summertime," here redone in a rearranged version highlighting the countermelody, similar to a version performed by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, almost unrecognizable beyond Alpert vocalizing the original melody behind the lyrics. It also marks the first appearance of Lani Hall as a credited vocalist on one of Alpert's albums.

One bonus for collectors is the addition of a second ending to the track "Darlin'." Where the original LP version fades out, we instead hear the very tail end of Alpert's trumpet squeaking off quietly into a high register, to dead silence. After a pause of several seconds, the tune returns again for essentially the same ending, this time just slightly different.

But oooh, those pants... :laugh:
 
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Mike Blakesley

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I remember "sort of" liking this album when it first came out. At the time I was mostly a fan of the TJB's "fast" songs -- no ballads for me, thank you. So the softness of this album put me off at first, although there were some tunes I enjoyed. Despite my distaste for ballads, I thought "Jerusalem" was a terrific tune, but I was not a big fan of the other slow songs here.

The fast songs, I didn't think sounded like the TJB I knew and loved, but I still liked them a little. But the album became one of those that I listened to for a while and then put it away.

Fast forward about 20 years to my discovery of the A&M Corner. Various discussions on the Brass' albums, including this one, came up and I found myself revisiting all the music again and now, having more "stuff" to listen for and knowing more about the music, I found myself liking more of the songs including the slow ballads I wasn't so fond of before. (The same thing happened with Sergio Mendes' Primal Roots.) So given this widening of my musical taste, Summertime has now joined the rest of the TJB albums on my list of favorites. Nowadays I find myself liking the subtleness of the album, for lack of a better word.

When I first saw the title Summertime I was expecting a raucous upbeat record. This album is anything but that -- nowadays it reminds me more of the end of summer, with the kind of melancholy feeling that time of the year evokes. I'll be looking forward to finally getting an official CD of the album!
 

Rudy

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We had it around the house when I was growing up, so it was just there the whole time. The year I received a cassette player as a gift, this was one of the two cassettes I received to play on it (in shuffled order, of course). I could point to other TJB albums I like over this one, but that's not to say that I don't like it. Despite Herb sounding a bit weary by this point (and who wouldn't be?), it still has some nice selections on it.
 

Harry

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SUMMERTIME was rather a surprise record for me. I'd read the awful news that the TjB had disbanded in late 1969, so much of the early part of 1970 was spent in savoring all of the albums that had come before, up to and including THE BRASS ARE COMIN', plus the then-new GREATEST HITS package. I just never expected anything else, figuring that Herb was concentrating on the business of A&M.

My dad was also a Brass fan and while working one day in 1971 he said he'd heard a new Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass song on the radio. It was called "Jerusalem" and he said it was a slow song, not a typically happy-sounding Tijuana Brass record. We went out and bought the single and while I liked "Jerusalem", we both thought "Strike Up The Band" was more of a TjB-sounding record. I was surprised that a "disbanded" group would be putting out more records, but I wasn't complaining. I was also thrilled to see this new single in stereo!

Later on in 1971 he said he'd heard yet another new Tijuana Brass record. He told me it was "Summertime", an old Gershwin song but it was done way different from the way he remembered it. Again we rushed out to the store to find the new single. It had "Hurt So Bad" on the b-side, and while I was happy to hear Lani Hall surfacing on the a-side, again it didn't quite seem like a typical TjB record of old. "Hurt So Bad" DID sound more like the old brass, so again I was happy.

Then the album came out and I'd already heard and practically memorized the four tracks that had surfaced on singles, so of the ten tracks, only six were new to me. "Darlin'" had a neat sound to it, and "Montezuma's Revenge" sounded a bit more like an old TjB track. "If You Could Read My Mind", "The Nicest Things Happen", and "Catch A Falling Star" were somewhat quieter filler-type tunes, and "Martha My Dear" was just a so-so Beatles cover.

In my collection of 45s, I seem to have the "Jerusalem" picture sleeve, but "Zazueira" is inhabiting the inside. I'm not sure what I did with the "Jerusalem" 45 - perhaps I gave it away when I got the album. I do still have my original "Summertime" 45 in a picture sleeve - same picture as the SUMMERTIME album. In my latter-day collecting, I seem to have acquired a 45 of "Darlin'" b/w "Montezuma's Revenge" making six tracks from the album that surfaced on 45s.

Now, to the new digital issue: I think these tracks have held up pretty well, given that we'd heard rumors of the tapes being so bad they had to be baked. Certainly the big surprise is the extension of "Darlin'". As I've posted elsewhere, I think the extra part was perhaps an original take for the second half of the tune that Herb felt could be improved upon, so he did it again, leaving the first take on the same reel. With the stop/start nature of the tune, it fits!

One thing that really stands out for me in these newly remastered files is the incredible stereo separation on some of these songs. Until now, I've only heard them as sourced from LP and although LP separation can be very good, it's not quite as "isolating" as a pure digital copy from the masters.

Good stuff all around!

Harry
 

Mike Blakesley

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Certainly the big surprise is the extension of "Darlin'". As I've posted elsewhere, I think the extra part was perhaps an original take for the second half of the tune that Herb felt could be improved upon, so he did it again, leaving the first take on the same reel. With the stop/start nature of the tune, it fits!

Herb has mentioned in a few interviews that he didn't "practice" before going into the studio to record, so it figures that he'd do several takes and pick the best one. Who knows, some of our favorite performances of his might be assembled from several pieces even though they sound "live."
 

Rudy

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One thing you can hear during the quiet break in "Hurts So Bad" is a very faint echo of a different trumpet solo, about halfway through. Sort of like trumpet noodling. To me it's hard to miss, even over speakers, but I bet more will notice it now that it is in digital form.
 
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Rudy

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Herb has mentioned in a few interviews that he didn't "practice" before going into the studio to record, so it figures that he'd do several takes and pick the best one. Who knows, some of our favorite performances of his might be assembled from several pieces even though they sound "live."
Teo Macero used to piece together many of the Miles Davis albums from numerous takes. (I personally feel many of those were very sloppy edits, but I dare not mention that in the same room as Miles purists.) So, it's not too uncommon.

I know Alpert would likely use the best takes if that were (technically) possible, but I know he also goes a lot on gut instinct and if an earlier take felt "right" and wasn't exactly note perfect, that one would be the keeper. (On those old Gold Star recordings, having only three channels to work with would certainly hinder things. It's not like in a true multitrack environment where you could record different solos on different tracks, then select the best. In that case, it could be a matter of re-recording a lead part or a solo over and over until you came across one you could live with.)

Often in the case of these little "bonuses" that are found on reels, they were never intended to end up on an album. But, many times an engineer working on the remastering will come across an old alternate take or snippet like this, and include it as a little perk for the listeners. The way it is presented here, it almost reminds me of Count Basie and "....let's try it one more, once." :laugh: (His hit recording of "April In Paris" had three endings to it. "One more time!" was ending #2, and "...let's try it one more once" was the third. That triple ending was actually one of the hooks for that hit and, even when performed live, they still included it.)
 

DeeInKY

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This is one of the albums that I never had, so I'm looking forward to it. '71 was when things kinda went to pot around our house since my dad became disabled. No disposable income, etc.
 

Rudy

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This is one of the albums that I never had, so I'm looking forward to it. '71 was when things kinda went to pot around our house since my dad became disabled. No disposable income, etc.

I would honestly say it is not quite up to par of the earlier and more popular TJB albums, but there is still a lot to like about it.

I still know some people recovering and catching up from the big fallout of 2008/2009 so yes, I can relate to that. :agree:
 

Mike Blakesley

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This is one album they could have altered the artwork slightly to eliminate Herb's disco pants and nobody likely would have objected. Zooming the picture a little would do it! :D
 

DeeInKY

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This is one album they could have altered the artwork slightly to eliminate Herb's disco pants and nobody likely would have objected. Zooming the picture a little would do it! :D
Lotta hatin' on those pants. Hey, it was the era of rayon shirts too. Those things are hot and don't breathe at all. You start to sweat and the shirt was just adhered to you. Not a pretty sight.
 

Rudy

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Summertime predated "disco pants" by a few years...or was Herb ahead of his time? :laugh: But, polyester was the "in" thing throughout the 70s, as were those sorts of prints. I think my dad even had a tie that looked similar. :D And I shudder to think that, as things are cyclical, that these will one day come back to haunt us. Put a $99 price tag on these and stick them in Macy's, and everyone will be buying 'em all over again.

I never could do "plastics." Rayon, polyester...nothing appeals to me. Even the pants creep me out to wear them. I loves me some cotton. But...Spandex? Hellz yeah, but I get those on a technicality (padded cycling shorts) . :laugh:
 

rbisherw

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Really looking forward to the CD issue of this and You Smile, Coney at al.

I purchased the Summertime LP when it was originally released (still have it in original shrink-wrap) and while I enjoyed it (it is Herb Alpert after all) it always felt like an album of leftovers to me. For whatever reason it lacks the cohesion of the last few LPs, IMHO.
I was also surprised at the short play time length.
 

Rudy

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Having learned (and been burned) in the past, I could safely say that if there are any titles you want from these new releases, get them as soon as you can. There have been countless times I had figured on a release being available a few years later, only to have it go out of print. In Herb's titles, Blow Your Own Horn was one of those. It wasn't a high priority, and the stores always had copies in the bins. Naturally when I went to go buy one to fill the hole in the CD collection, it was gone.

Now I am of the "if you see it, grab it" mindset. At least, as it relates to purchasing music titles. :laugh: With Herb's vinyl releases, it is pretty much an assumption that these will only have one pressing run, and will be limited in number. It is hard enough to have vinyl pressed these days due to demand far outstripping the capacity of the pressing plants.
 

martin

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I listened to the remastered Summertime this afternoon on Tidal. To me it's like a new discovery. I got the vinyl at 12 in 1971 but hearing it now in the remastered version is a revelation. It sounds absolutely great, and I especially love the arrangements of "If You Could Read My Mind" and "Martha My Dear" and even "Jerusalen" which was a modest hit at the time sounds really fresh in the remastered version.

- greetings from the north-
Martin
 

RichardWarner

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I bought it in Mentor Ohio and played it on my grandparents' stereo. Having brought my trumpet along, I wound up playing along with "Hurts So Bad" the first time I heard it. Same thing happened two years before, playing "Sea is My Soil" on its initial spinning, only back then it was on my blue and white plastic stereo with a two inch speaker. Snazzy.
 

Mike Blakesley

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Since "The Sea is my Soil" is apparently having its name changed to "The Sea is my Soul" again for this new release, I got to thinking, maybe "Soul" is correct, since both titles make sense. So I sought out the track list for the Sergio Mendes album Horizonte Aberto which contains an instrumental version of the song ("O Mar É Meu Chão"), and plugged that title into Google's Portuguese-to-English translator.

Results: "The Sea Is My Floor"

So.... since "soil" and "floor" are vaguely synonymous or at least semi-related, I tend to think "Soil" is correct.
 

Rudy

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Every other artist has it as "Soil" so yeah, we're looking at a really bad typo here. :laugh:

At least they didn't spell the boss's name as "Herb Albert." Good way to shorten your employment! :D

(It's actually an easily overlooked typo...it can't compare to the "aboxtrophes" fiasco that the audiophile label Audio Fidelity had on their first release, which slipped past everybody apparently, even the printer! :laugh: )
 

Rudy

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Is it my imagination or do we now hear the entire ending to "Catch a Falling Star" before it fades out?
I'm not certain, really. I know when I first listened to the remastered tracks on headphones, or on nearfield monitors, I did notice a few fadeouts seemed to be longer. However, since we are used to the music falling into the noise floor sooner on some LPs, that might have been there all the time and we've never noticed.

The other reason it could happen: if they go back to an original master of some sort, the fades may not have been there on the reel, and those would have to be faded again once they were being transferred to digital. (I once was lucky enough to hear the session reel of the first Sinatra/Jobim session, and it not only included studio noise prior to the countdown, the songs did not fade out--the orchestra would continue playing for part of a minute.)
 

Harry

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Is it my imagination or do we now hear the entire ending to "Catch a Falling Star" before it fades out?

... since we are used to the music falling into the noise floor sooner on some LPs, that might have been there all the time and we've never noticed.

It does go on to the point of concluding the song at the 3:05 point. Most LP recordings I've heard are well into the surface noise floor by about 3:03.

Harry
 

Mike Blakesley

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I did notice that "Sea Is My Soil" seems to fade out more quickly than the original version. None of the other tracks on Warm do though.
 

dvakman

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I like it when Herb comes in and sings near the very end of "Martha My Dear".... it's one of my favorite Herb vocal moments. His singing really complements the song too. McCartney seemed to be channeling Bacharach a bit with this composition.
 

Michael Hagerty

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I may have mentioned it sometime in the last 20 years here at the Corner...but there are three songs (Hurts So Bad, Martha My Dear and Darlin') that were two to three years old at the time of the album's release. I've always wondered if Herb started the album in '69 or so (either in between WARM and THE BRASS ARE COMIN' or just after), then set it aside and came back to it, with "Hurts", "Martha" and "Darlin'" already done or close to it. They just seem like odd choices if you're starting from a clean slate in 1971.
 
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