Once upon a time Herb Alpert and his partner Jerry Moss created A&M, which was run out of Alpert's garage. Eventually the artist owned label would be producing the records of Joe Cocker, the Carpenters, Cat Stevens, and Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, but the signature sound remained that of Herp Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. In 1965 they had hit singles with "A Taste of Honey" and "Spanish Flea," off of the hit albums "Whipped Cream and Other Delights" and "Going Places." Alpert's most popular album, "What's Now My Love," came out the following year, along with "S.R.O." as his Latin-influenced "Ameriachi" music showed significant longevity with 1968's "Beat of the Brash" being the fifth album to reach the top of the charts. The great irony was that when it came to hit singles, the first one to hit #1 on the Billboard was Burt Bacharach's "This Guy's in Love With You" in which Alpert actually did a vocal.
The Americachi formula is fairly simple: Alpert's trumpet defines the melody over a Latin rhythm section, sometimes with airy wordless vocals by nameless singers. The twenty-songs collected on "Classics, Volume 1" date from Herb Alpert's first chart success, 1962's "The Lonely Bull (El Solo Torro)" (#6) to one track from 1970, "Jerusalem" (#74). In between we have "Marching Thru Madrid" (#96), "The Mexican Shuffle" (#85), "Taste of Honey" (#7), "Whipped Cream" (#68), "Mame" (#19), "Spanish Flea" (#27), "Tijuana Taxi" (#38), "What Now My Love" (#24), "Zorba the Greek" (#11), "The Work Song" (#18), "Casino Royale" (#27), "A Banda" (#35), and "This Guy's in Love With You" (#1). Not everything here made the charts (e.g., "Acapulco 1922" and "Love Potion #9"), and some of the songs that did are not here, such as "Third Man Theme" (#47), "Flamingo" (#28), "Wade in the Water" (#37), "Cabaret" (#72), "My Favorite Things" (#45), and "Without Her" (#63). Consequently, while this is an impressive collection of singles, this is not a comprehensive collection. But I think that is to be expected with an artist that had five #1 albums and I can see people picking up this CD for the car while at home they have several of the Tijuana Brass albums.
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass are the most successful instrumental artists between the end of the Big Band era and today. When you look at their competition you are usually talking piano players like Roger Williams and Richard Clayderman, along with orchestras led by the likes of Henry Mancini, Montavani, and Lawrence Welk. But with most of those artists you are talking about elegant and sophisticated covers of songs associated with others (Mancini being the exception that proves the rule here). Alpert had a hand in writing only four of these tracks (10, 12, 17 and 22) but with most of these songs these are the versions you hear when you think of "A Taste of Honey" or "Spanish Flea" (okay, that last one makes you think of "The Dating Game," because that was the intro music for the bachelor, while "Whipped Cream" was the intro music for the bachelorette, and the intro music for the date was "Lollipops and Roses"-What can I say? Chuck Barris liked Herb Alpert).