Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass: Whipped Cream and Other Delights
Whipped Cream and Other Delights
One time in high school I flipped through my parents' records hoping that they might have purchased some Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd albums without my knowledge. No such luck, but tucked in between Barbara Streisand and John Denver was a copy of Whipped Cream and Other Delights. "This must be great. Look at the cover! I thought to myself. Then I put it on the turntable. Nope. Foiled again. My parents were just as uncool as ever.
But there's no denying that millions of Americans were hooked by this album in 1966, or at least by the cover featuring an alluring model covered in whipped cream (shaving cream, as it turns out). Whipped Cream gave Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass an overnight success that made them popular with just about everybody. It was an appropriate title for an album that many people consumed en masse but critics claimed was light, fluffy, and had little substance or content. Even though there are probably millions of copies of Whipped Cream available for a dime in flea markets and garage sales, Shout! Factory has reissued a remastered version, along with several other Alpert titles, as part of its Herb Alpert catalog.
You know at least two songs on here already: the title track, which was used for the bachelors' theme on The Dating Game, and "A Taste Of Honey, which was Alpert's first big hit (even today Alpert's music is inescapable). The concept of Whipped Cream is a collection of songs with titles all having to do with food, although this makes little difference once the songs get filtered through Alpert's idiosyncrasies. Almost forty years later it's a bit surprising that his blend of Dixieland, pop, mariachi, and just about everything else caught on like it did. Perhaps it was just that there was a little something there for everyone.
But beyond the two hits are plenty of catchy instrumentals that are superbly arranged. The Tijuana Brass was a tight outfit filled with impeccable musicians (at least one, guitarist John Pisano, going on to earn serious jazz credentials). At the very least, Alpert was a gifted arranger who understood the architecture of successful pop music and managed to create an unexpected hit record.
Today, once you can get past the initial recoil of listening to music this obviously dated, it's apparent that Alpert was on to something. Much of this material is very catchy and appealing, and there's enough variety in the basic concept to ensure that it doesn't get run into the ground. A lot of fashionable music from the past sounds dated today, as Alpert's does, but that doesn't detract from its charm. Fifteen years after I scoured my parents' records, I'm forced to conclude that Whipped Cream and Other Delights isn't a bad record after all.
However, it's probably all the Alpert one needs in their collection. Which bring up an interesting question: who is the target audience for this release? It's hard to believe that there are people out there who are salivating for it. Perhaps the serious retro enthusiasts will pick it up, or maybe the cover will lure others in just like the initial release. (A side note: Shout! Factory has included a full-size reproduction of the original cover in the packaging.)
Regardless, since you've heard the Tijuana Brass before, your mind may be already be made up. But as a piece of pop culture, Whipped Cream and Other Delights is a great example of slick sixties instrumental pop, and not nearly as bad as you think. Check it out.
Track listing: 1. A Taste Of Honey 2. Green Peppers 3. Tangerine 4. Bittersweet Samba 5. Lemon Tree 6. Whipped Cream 7. Love Potion #9 8. El Garbanzo 9. Ladyfingers 10. Butterball 11. Peanuts 12. Lollipops And Roses 13. Bonus: Rosemary 14. Bonus: Blueberry Park.
Personnel: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.