Beat diggers sometimes catch a bad case of B-siditis. First, their fingers turn red in sudden outbreaks of vinyl withdrawal. Then, they start getting delusional dreams about the dark side of the vinyl moon, where the true gems are buried. Soon after, their hands get too shaky to sift through the bins. Shout! Factory provides them with a rare placebo, by releasing two of Herb Alpert’s “Remixes From Rise.”
Who? Herb Alpert. Herb Alpert, the A in A&M Records. Herb Alpert, who was elected five times in a row as best trumpet player at the annual Playboy Soul & Jazz Poll. In April of 1966, he was the first artist to have four of his albums in the Top 10 of the Billboard’s pop album chart. Because his fifth album was also featured in the Top 20, he got in the Guinness Book of Records, together with his band The Tijuana Brass. At one point, he outsold the Beatles, and he was one of the only people who managed to score hits in the sixties, the seventies, and the eighties.
And now, his albums are the darlings of thrift shop owners and Pop & Mom record stores, the elegant dumpsters all vinyl recordings end up in. From there, Alpert’s crystal clear trumpet antics found their way into the crates of a couple of skilled old school producers. Black Sheep blended in one of Herb’s solos into the rambunctious “Flavor of the Month” on “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.” The RZA laced Method Man debut “Tical” with Alpert brass fury on the ball-buster “Release Yo’Delf.” His most famous sample, however, was used on the laid back Biggie player anthem “Hypnotize.”
One of the things Albert was most credited for was bringing the mariachi trumpet into American jazz music. He dubbed his style of crystal clear jubilant brass notes lovingly ‘Ameriachi.’ That style of playing has been picked up in fragments by the earlier mentioned producers and millions of others in their late thirties, forties and fifties listened to it for full enjoyment. So why not give the people of this generation another chance?
This two song CD single is part of the solution. Alpert made a big comeback in 1979, when he introduced a more laid-back jazz fusion style on the album “Rise.” After his countless successes, it got him back on top of the charts one more time. He got help from his nephew Randy “Badazz” Albert and his musical partner Andy Armer, since the older Alpert wasn’t quite up to pace with the new style of music making. Disco was kicking in, and “Rise” was one of the first records to be considered as dance music. With a thank you note in the mail for “Badazz”and Armer.
The people over at Shout! Factory went to every length to ensure the B-siditis basket cases aren’t fooled by this Alpert-placebo. The CD only has two corresponding tracks. A round hole has been made in the carton jewel case, and the disc itself has small grooves to ensure touch authentication. The only thing that could give it away is the size of the thing, but since one of the symptoms of B-siditis is near-sightedness, they might get away with it scot-free.
The A-side of “Remixes from Rise” is really too fast-paced to be considered for sampling. Alpert added a wailing element in his normally triumphant trumpet play on “Aranjuez (Mon Amour) 2007 Remix.” It doesn’t match well with the inciting disco rhythm and funky bass line dominating the song. The renowned all rounder picks up the tempo later on, but the pumping melody and the rapid drums simply overwhelm too much to be truly funky.
But then, the B-side placebo kicks in. “Rotation – Original 12 inch Remix” starts off with a simple hitchhiker hand drum, which gets picked up along the road by a sympathetic keyboard and some slightly menacing synthesizer tones. Herpert’s trumpet soars solemnly over the electronic desert with an air of old-fashioned cool jazz. This track also doesn’t provide for a lot of exciting breaks, but it does take away a lot of the uneasiness caused by the earlier displayed disco extravaganza.
Shout! Factory would have been better off if they had released this mixed bag of stale success and brand new ambition strictly on vinyl. The delusional beat digger might be cured by some B-side breaks, but the occasional listener will find no more use for “Remixes From Rise” than a quick pit-stop in the CD player.