Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass

The Brass Are Comin'

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The Western motif on the double-fold album jacket -- with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in costume -- signals this as another companion album to a TV special. But there is a deeper significance to this LP, for shortly after its release, a burned-out, personally troubled Alpert disbanded the Brass and retired from music for awhile. Indeed, stretches of this record reveal a tired group and a leader whose trumpet has lost much of its old zip. Even so, as on all TJB albums, there are several gems -- the stunning shifts in texture and tempo that enliven the worn-out "Moon River," the chugging bluegrass-tinged arrangement of Villa-Lobos' "The Little Train of the Caipira" that masquerades under the name of the title track, a haunting rendition of the Beatles' "I'll Be Back," the fast samba treatment of "Anna." Dave Grusin and Shorty Rogers contribute an occasional orchestration, and Alpert does a modest vocal turn on the lush "You Are My Life." But this time, the old sales magic was gone; the Tijuana Brass had suddenly become unhip in polarized 1969.

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