Most of you probably know Herb Alpert already and it’d be pretty surprising if any of you didn’t, seeing as he was so popular he even sold twice the amount the Beatles did in 1966. Whether you like him or not is another story however, as he is probably the preserve of older generations (kudos to my old man), and there’s no denying the guy is first and foremost a pop artist with no shortage of ghastly chunks of cheese lurking in his enormous repertoire. But on listening to his older stuff I am quietly confident you’ll be unable to resist the charm of this prolific musician.
Detailing a career that has spanned 3 decades in a single blog would be difficult not to mention tedious, so lets just state some powerful facts: from his debut single “The Lonely Bull” in 1963 to one of his most recent solo album, Colours (1999), ol’ Herb (often along with the Tijuana Brass) has had five number one hits, twenty-eight albums on the Billboard charts, fourteen Platinum albums, fifteen Gold albums and has sold over 72 million albums worldwide. He has been covered by the likes of Notorious B.I.G and Noel Gallagher, and has also founded and headed industry super-heavyweights A&M records for many years. “Pretty impressive stuff, but is his music any good?” I hear you ponder.
Well, much of it is debatable, and much of it is tasteless pop. After leaving “the Brass,” for example, he embarked upon that dreadfully cheesy and well worn path of 80s and 90s bad pop drivel. But I personally have a penchant for some of the earlier stuff he did with the Tijuana Brass, especially in the 60s. Whipped Cream and Other Delights is an old reliable. Stick these tunes below on at a carefully chosen moment in any party, and I can guarantee you they will increase the craic and the drinking manifold.
What of Alpert now? Herb turned the ripe old age of 71 this year, but still seems to be active enough, playing the trumpet, producing theatre and expressing himself in other art forms. In fairness to the likeable old codger, he also founded “The Herb Alpert Foundation” in the 80s, in which he still remains involved. This includes annual fellowships of $50,000 to five winning artists; one each in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre and the visual arts. Nuff respect ‘erb.