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Alpert rewhips a new version of classic album

After 41 years, ‘Whipped Cream and Other Delights’ updated with remixes
/ Source: The Associated Press

Herb Alpert wasn't too jazzed when he heard about a remix of his classic "Whipped Cream and Other Delights" album — until he tasted some of the new cuts.

He liked what he heard, and the trumpeter and music-industry pacesetter threw his weight behind the new version of the toe-tapping, genre-bending album that featured Grammy-winner "A Taste of Honey" and "Whipped Cream," and other food-oriented treats.

Alpert said he was approached by Shout Factory's Shawn Amos about the project to reinvent the 41-year-old album.

"At first I wasn't crazy about doing this project until I heard what these guys had in mind. I just wanted to leave that classic album alone," Alpert, 71, recently told The Associated Press during a pool-side party at a South Beach hotel.

"As it turns out, I'm very happy with it. They were working through me as well. They were sending me the ... file, then I overdubbed some trumpets on top of the original trumpet I had, sent it back to them, they mixed it up and I was pleasantly surprised at the result."

"Whipped Cream and Other Delights: Rewhipped" is an appropriately cool update to the sexy, stylish album that spent eight weeks at No. 1 and won four Grammys in 1965. Instrumental impresarios such as Madeski, Martin and Wood, and Anthony Marinelli and John King of the Dust Brothers attack the tight rhythms of the original.

Also redone was the old cover — the sultry image of a brunette bathed in a white substance (the cream, the liner notes say, was of the shaving variety, not the whipped), her fingers touching the tip of her tongue.

The original "Whipped Cream" album mixed polka, Dixieland, jazz and Mexican sounds and rhythms, and featured a solid lineup of horn men behind Alpert to make up the Tijuana Brass. Its provocative cover and good-looking frontman helped the popularity of the album.

Alpert had a hunch that the lead song on the original album, "A Taste of Honey," would do fine.

"I was playing at a little club in Seattle, Wash., the Edgewater Inn, and every time I played `A Taste of Honey' prior to its release, people would go crazy — well not crazy, they wanted us to play it again — so I got the feeling that maybe that could be a great single," he said.

The song starts with a mariachi-like introduction that flows into a bass-drum lead-in. A walking bass guitar, drums and piano accompany the horns, with Alpert's trumpet up front. Its catchy tune and buoyant feel is irresistible.

"It was the `Taste of Honey' record that really catapulted the Tijuana Brass to a new level," he said.

The remixed "Taste" cut, by King, stays true to the original but succeeds in isolating the trumpet and bass while adding atmospheric touches throughout.

Later, Marinelli and the Los Angeles-based band Ozomatli takes a more chilled-out approach to "Whipped Cream" — the song chosen to introduce the bachelorettes on "The Dating Game."

Ozomatli trumpeter and co-vocalist Asdru Sierra recognized the influence of the song and impact of the album cover.

"I remember as a kid listening to it, my parents would listen to that record over and over," Sierra said. "The way I remember it first of all, if I could envision anything, it's like `Austin Powers.'"

"My mom didn't want the album in the house because of the girl in the front with the whipped cream. Back in the day, it was so risque, and the music was so risque."

Other songs also have sex appeal. "Lemon Tree" has a seductive, snake-charmer feel to it, with Alpert's forlorn trumpet setting the mood.

And the new "Love Potion No. 9," comes with Latin-influenced percussion and a rousing va-va-voom ending, complete with cymbal crashes and a shaking tambourine. The song's vocals are handled by a mellow-sounding Sierra.

The end result somewhat surprised Alpert, mainly because of the skill of the artists involved in the remix.

"Prior to getting into this genre, if you will, I thought a lot of these remixers were just kind of lucky; they press some buttons and get some grooves going and they were not really musicians," Alpert said.

"But now I have a lot of respect for these DJ remixers, especially the good ones. They're very musical, most of them play instruments and they know what they're doing. It was fun playing with them."

Alpert's still thin and handsome, and he was the coolest cat at the South Beach party, wearing all black and even sporting a scarf to deal with the unseasonable chilly weather.

Easygoing and soft-spoken, Alpert lit up when discussing the similarities between his art (he's a sculptor) and music.

"Aw man, it's the same thing. It's exactly the same thing," he said. "Art starts from a blank canvas. Music starts from that same spot."

"Rewhipped" also came at a time when Alpert received another sign of respect: a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was inducted along with Jerry Moss for their work as the co-founders of A&M Records, whose catalog includes the Carpenters, the Police, Barry White and Sheryl Crow.

Alpert says his approach of making the artist — not the business model — the most important aspect of his independent label was a reason for its success. He also wondered if a trumpeter-arranger like himself and an instrumental album like the original "Whipped Cream" would be able to find an outlet today.

"Unfortunately, what they're playing on the radio now is not really fair to a lot of great musicians that are out there struggling to be heard," Alpert says. "They're so compartmentalized with the types of music certain stations are willing to play. If it doesn't fit into that particular groove, you know, you're out of the picture."

Still, the "Rewhipped" CD is earning solid reviews and earned Ozomatli and Alpert an appearance on the "Tonight" show.

"It's powerful," Alpert says of the music's staying power. "'Whipped Cream' happened 40 years ago. It still resonates with people.'"