If you didn’t much like the Tijuana Brass back in their day (1960’s to early 1970’s) then you won’t much care for Crown’s imitation of the real thing. Crown wasn’t the only budget record company churning out TJB soundalike/lookalike fodder but they might have been the most successful.
Several of these LPs are direct ripoffs of successful TJB LPs, using the same title tracks like Taste of Honey, Whipped Cream, Spanish Flea & What Now My Love. So what kind of bargain are these fake TJ Brass LPs? All the Crown MB LPs have 5 cuts per side and most share tracks; Pico Pico, Tijuana Hot Sauce, El Choclo, El Relicario & others appear on many of the various MB records with no attempt to hide the fact (printing the shared titles right on the covers in most cases)–so for your 99 cents you get 10 tracks with up to three appearing on other MB LPs you may have purchased. So what’s the better deal here: one authentic TJ Brass LP or several 99 cent fakes which share cuts and fall apart in your hands? And none of the suggestively posed Mexicali Brass models can compete with TJ Brass’ famous whipped cream cover.
Besides sharing titles, Crown included many public domain tunes on these LPs, giving the Mexicali Brass treatment to inappropriate titles such as In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree, Song of the Volga Boatman & Bill Bailey to name a few.
The story I heard from Bill Lazerus, the recording engineer on most of these LPs, is that the brilliant Maxwell Davis wrote the arrangements and churned out these tracks with hired horns in the old Normandie studios until a lawsuit from Herb Alpert put a stop to it. Most of tracks sound like the same band & arranger. The tunes sound rushed through and unrehearsed, like much of Crown’s budget era LPs under the direction of Jerry Cole & Maxwell Davis. The same guitar sound is prominent on most tracks though I have no evidence that it’s Jerry Cole on the strings.
Poor Maxwell Davis…he passed away from exhaustion, worked to death at Crown’s budget record factory, before he could retire and enjoy the benefit of a long & successful music career. Everyone speaks highly and with great affection of this talented musician, composer, arranger & band leader.
Crown created several Mexicali Brass LPs based on tracks on the TJ Brass LP Whipped Cream & Other Delights. Up first is the Mex Brass LP A Taste of Honey with a cover shot showing a model’s ample cleavage, somewhat suggestive of the cover on Alpert’s classic.
Crown’s treatment of the tune A Taste of Honey sounds (at least in my opinion) like a high school band, complete with sour horn notes & some offbeat drumming.
Better sounding is MB’s treatment of the blues classic Careless Love, featuring guitar work & sound found throughout these LPs.
CLP 5487 / 1966
Thunderbolt apparently was never covered by the Tijuana Brass but it’s natural tune for the MB treatment. A better than average track here:
CST 506 / 1966
South Of The Border is a direct ripoff of a successful TJB LP of the same name. Cover shot doesn’t match much though. The tune Tijuana Harlem is a crazy mix of Latin brass, blues & rock and roll. One of the better MB cuts on any of the LPs.
CST 524 / 1966
What Now My Love is another direct ripoff of a TJB LP of the same name. Adding to the insult, Crown adds another TJB hit to the mix, Spanish Flea.
Way Down On The Swanee River is one of those absurd choices Crown picked to give the MB treatment.
CLP 5511 / 1966
Whipped Cream is Crown’s first Mexicali Brass LP. They didn’t attempt to imitate the classic whipped cream TJB cover but went for broke, putting two TJB hits on one record: Whipped Cream & The Lonely Bull. Strange, this LP was immediately reissued, erasing any trace of Lonely Bull on either LP or cover. Perhaps A&M issued a warning from the start.
CST 471 / 1965
The Shadow of Your Smile was a hit for the TJ Brass on the What Now My Love LP.
CST 544 / 1967
Here MB goes country though this tune sounds like its horn charts were stolen from a soul record.
CLP 5543 / 1967
I still have a stack of Mex Brass LPs to go through and post but that’ll have to wait for another week this year.