Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass / Herb Alpert

Herb Alpert's Ninth

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The cover art of Herb Alpert's Ninth is hilarious -- a bust of grim old Beethoven wearing a Herb Alpert sweatshirt, a parody of the pop icon fad going around at the time and maybe a comment on the rock world's newfound pretensions in the wake of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper. In any case, Herb Alpert's Ninth does introduce some highbrow pretensions of sorts to Alpert's Ameriachi sound -- some very subtly applied strands of strings on several numbers and a madcap, multi-sectioned fantasy of tunes from Bizet's Carmen that is full of in-jokes from the opera and the TJB's hits. Alpert is also quite aware of the brave new world around him; he does a spare, lazy, yet entirely novel-sounding cover version of Sgt. Pepper's "With a Little Help from My Friends" and gives the Supremes' "The Happening" a bouncy workout. There is also a touching memorial to the late Ervan Coleman ("Bud") and another underrated contribution from the Alpert songwriting team, Sol Lake's swinging "Cowboys and Indians." The TJB still churns out the Latin American rhythms, but sometimes with a shade less exuberance.

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