There are some artists who are hard to take seriously, not because they are obscure but because they were once enormously popular. If you love to hunt for old records in op-shops and thrift-stores, as I do, you see these guys so often that you flick straight past them.
James Last. Nana Mouskouri. Kamahl. Harry Secombe. Yawn.
Even on Planet Vinyl, where inclusiveness is our creed, it is hard sometimes to give a fair go to the over-familiar. So it is that I only came to own a copy of Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream & Other Delights because someone put it out for hard rubbish collection.
Not sure if people do this elsewhere, but in Australia there is a strange social convention. No honest person one would think of taking, say, an exercise bike from someone’s front porch. However, if the same exercise bike is put out on the nature strip, it is there for the taking. There is no need for a note saying “free, please take”. Everyone understands that the thing is being given away. The same applies to couches, barbeques, DVD players – the whole detritus of modern life.
Only once have I ever met records put out in this way, but it happened. Not far from my house, by the side of the road, was a birdcage, a foot bath, two standing lamps and a box of records – jazz and pop from the fifties and sixties. My family were with me, and impatient, so there was no time to be choosy – I just grabbed the whole lot. And so, after marvelling at the cover and giving the disc a good clean, I finally just listened Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass.
Herb, I discovered, could blow. The Tijuana Brass was slick, with a great sound: big-band swing with a touch of Mariachi.
Something else I learned. Whipped Cream & Other Delights was massively popular. The copy I found was an Australian re-issue from 1966, but it was released the previous year. It was number one on the album charts in the US for eight weeks. It stayed in the charts for more than three years. The cassette tape was a new technology then, just becoming popular as a way to play music in cars, and Whipped Cream was one of the first titles to win a “Gold Cartridge”. That sounds kinda funny now, but must have been worth a lot of money back then.
So, imagine. It is 1966. Fuel has lead in it, speeds are in miles-per-hour, no one wears seatbelts, and you have installed a tape deck in your Holden Monaro. You are out on a date on a warm summer night. Roll down the windows, and press ‘play’.
- Artist: Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass
- LP Title: Whipped Cream & Other Delights
- Side 1, Track 5: “Whipped Cream”
- Format: 12” LP 33⅓ rpm
- Label: Festival SFL-931,680
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: 1966 (first released 1965)