If the 12" single of Herb Alpert's "Rise" hadn't taken over the charts the way it did back in 1979, one wonders if anyone would have gotten around to checking out the Tijuana Brass, or if Alpert would have gone down in the books as the guy who had a number one with a Burt Bacharach tune ("This Guy's in Love with You"). Instead, the cut energized the entire dance club generation, with DJs looking for new grooves, and it even ended up being used by Sean "Puffy" Combs on the Notorious B.I.G.'s Hypnotise, albeit in a drastically re-morphed form. The single began as a disc track composed by Alpert's nephew Randy and his pal Andy Armer. Alpert suggested they slow the groove way down and turn it into a slow mover. They issued it without an album to go with it, simply as a single on A&M. Club DJs picked up on it and began using duplicate copies either to let the percussion break go on a bit longer before trumpet kicked in, or playing one copy just behind another, creating a call-and-response melody with the trumpet and the rhythm section. After the single stormed the charts and stayed there all summer, eventually hitting the number one spot, Alpert, Armer, and friends went about assembling an album to capitalize on it.
They did well: Rise hit number six on the Billboard pop chart. The rest of the tracks are a slew of originals and covers. The set opens with a small pomp and circumstance intro called "1980" that Alpert composed for the Olympics that year, assisted by the late Michel Colombier on keyboards. Alpert also composed the ballad-turned-Latin-dancefloor fire walker "Behind the Rain," (originally composed for Gato Barbieri's Caliente! album) that has its own appeal in the 21st century with chorus-like backing vocals. Other tracks include the Armer and Randy Alpert "Rotation." This cut, introduced by hand percussion, bells, and shakers is another soulful groover with a killer, soft-spoken keyboard line that's hypnotic lite funk. A looped synth line enters in place of a bassline. Handclaps, fingersnaps, and Alpert's distant trumpet play a melody not unlike the one on the "Lonely Bull." Effects, washes, reverb, and mild distortion create a futuristic backdrop to this otherwise beautifully melodic tune. Alpert plays in-the-pocket soul-drenched melody lines over the top and one of the first "chillout" tunes was born.
What it all adds up to is an extraordinary recording that stands the test of time as a bona fide classic of the late disco/pre hip-hop era. The pop charts would have none of it these days. But eating this up as folks did, pre-MTV, with simply the radio going nuts trying to introduce the next single from it, Alpert, his nephew, and Armer stumbled onto something that would reinvigorate Alpert's career as a recording artist and as a producer.