The Brass Ring

Gazpacho/Only Love

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The two 1968 albums anthologized on this disc -- Gazpacho and Only Love -- represent the last new material that the Brass Ring would release during their short but prolific stint on Lou Adler's Dunhill Records. While the label was based in Los Angeles, bandleader Phil Bodner headed up what was in essence the East Coast's answer to Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass or Julius Wechter's Baja Marimba Band. Gazpacho is a dozen-song sonic carnival that gives props to Spanish and Latin-flavored compositions, such as "Granada," "Yours" (also known as "Quiereme Mucho"), "Adoro," and "This Afternoon I Saw It Rain," the latter pair having been written by Mexican composer Armando Manzanero. Another tip of the sombrero goes to Alvaro Carillo, whose "Yellow Days" offers the quintessence of what the Brass Ring are all about -- music for elevators, lobbies, and/or "on-hold" telephone fodder. Comparatively more enjoyable is the original "Little Sea Shells" -- inked by none other than the Brass Ring's own Stanley Webb, recalling the carefree bounce of the aforementioned Tijuana Brass classics "Whipped Cream" and "Spanish Flea." However, fans of so-called "space-age bachelor pad" kitsch should seek out Gazpacho for "The Girl from Ipanema," as it is the subject of an unwitting sonic satire of the entire easy listening genre. For their final LP, Only Love, the Brass Ring find inspiration on the big screen and the pop charts -- or both, as in the case of "Mrs. Robinson" from the motion picture The Graduate. Similar cinematic selections worth hearing are the intimate theme to For Love of Ivy, a very funky wah-wah guitar-fused rendition of "The Odd Couple," and the haunting yet ultimately melodic "Rosemary's Baby," from the motion picture of the same name. Burt Bacharach and Hal David supply the laid-back "This Guy's in Love with You" and equally ersatz "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," although each comes off as milquetoast. Similarly, any interest that Paul Mauriat's "Love Is Blue" incorporated in the noir harpsichord-driven hit reading is drowned out by an ineffectual acoustic guitar.

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