Herb Alperts Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream & Other Delights Re-Whipped – various artists
Shout! Factory DK 97641
Forty years ago, a trumpeter's pop instrumental album rocked the nation. It's almost impossible to fathom in today's world, but the original Whipped Cream & Other Delights from Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass was a massive phenomenon, attracting hippies and squares, kiddies and grannies, Jews and gentiles, Latinos and gringos, and in the words of the album’s liner notes, "celebrities and the people who make them celebrities." People were drawn to Alpert’s clever blend of bossa nova, jazz, salsa, and Dixieland rhythms, which he used as the perfect backdrop for his peppy trumpet solos. It also didn’t hurt that a marketing genius turned the world on its head by decorating the album cover with an image of a hot nude model strategically covered in nothing but whipped cream.
Forty years later, instrumental albums have come back to prominence, thanks to the work of skillful DJs and pioneers of the electronica movement. Thus, it only makes sense that the rising stars of modern instrumental music ply their craft in a remix of Alpert's 1966 landmark achievement. And with that notion, Whipped Cream & Other Delights Re-Whipped was born.
Remix producer Anthony Marinelli takes the lead and has his fingers in most of this bowl of Cool-Whip. Whether he's collaborating with Ozomatli or slicing and dicing on his own, Marinelli typically retains a reverence for Alpert's original classic. Remarkably, Re-Whipped’s reinvention remains true to Alpert’s vision while taking on a new and vibrant form. Of course, having Herb Alpert around to record new and buoyant solos surely didn’t hurt.
At first glance, Marinelli's decision to re-jigger the track order is curious, but all questions are answered upon hearing the sheer brilliance of the opening title cut. With the aid of Ozomatli, Marinelli’s re-working of “Whipped Cream” transforms the perky bachelorette theme from The Dating Game into a badass brooding anthem. Using groovy piano and bass licks, he tosses in both acoustic guitar from south of the border and Alpert’s suddenly cool new solo to create an immensely seductive blend. The combination is so successful it nearly dwarves the entire album. With the wave of his hand, Marinelli has birthed an opening track that begs the listener to hit repeat while strutting down the street.
Thankfully, the rest of Marinelli’s numerous contributions to the album have their merits, as well. His space-age transfusion of the gentle “Ladyfingers” becomes an erotic gem, thanks to some clever drum programming and a silky smooth moaning vocal from Kina Cosper. The lead producer is also able to conjure up some pulsating Stevie Wonder-era funk on “Lollipops and Roses” while still preserving the obvious pop leanings of the original. Truthfully, the only time Marinelli fails is when he and Ozomatli take a stab at Leiber and Stoller’s classic “Love Potion #9.” Although Alpert’s inceptive rendition served as a brassy burlesque number, Marinelli’s update places the trumpeter over an intense funk backbeat. Ozomatli adds colorful timbales and stabbing horn parts, and everything is on the right trackuntil Asdru Sierra begins delivering vacuous vocals. In the only lyrics on the entire album, Sierra has no clue what he’s actually singing. He’s more pre-occupied with sounding like Prince, and his wussy R&B-light vocal effectively neuters what was one of Alpert’s most ballsy tracks.
While Marinelli is directly responsible for half of Re-Whipped, he has enlisted some heavy hitters to handle the remainder of the load. By dexterously intersplicing mellow riffs reminiscent of a tropical breeze, John King, of the Dust Brothers fame, adds sly subtext to the previously shallow but nonetheless iconic “A Taste of Honey.” Thievery Corporation are ideal for a remix project like Re-Whipped, and they give a wonderfully atmospheric and dark slant to “Lemon Tree.” Medeski, Martin, and Wood put a spin on “El Garbanzo” that is uniquely their own. The eclectic trio creates a frenetic samba on acid, eventually veering into a cool jazz vibe that is perfect for Alpert’s solo. Speaking of samba, Mocean Worker’s remixing expertise is on display in a seamless take on the groovalicious “Bittersweet Samba” that remarkably sounds as if it was recorded live.
We’ve seen remix projects come and go, but Re-Whipped is a little different. Never before has such a project demonstrated such reverence for its source. It’s not uncommon in these type of remixes to strain one’s ears in a desperate search to find any traces of the original track, but the cuts on Re-Whipped are easily identifiable, which must attributed to the guidance of Marinelli and his collaboration with Alpert. Rather than tearing down the wall and rebuilding it from scratch, Marinelli and crew have decided to merely redecorate it in vivid colors and modern designs. Therefore, Re-Whipped becomes less of a remix album and more of an update. Whipped Cream & Other Delights may be forty years old, but Marinelli and Alpert are proving that with a new coat of paint (or whipped cream) the old beauty can still float your boat.