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4.5 out of 5 stars
Definitive Hits
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134 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Being at the epicenter of A&M Records fans around the world at our A&M Corner website, I found this release to be a curious event. With all the available (and far superior) Tijuana Brass and solo Herb Alpert compilations available, why was this project created? It only took a couple of months to find out the reason: Universal took its axe to the Alpert catalog, to where this compilation and one or two other very recent Alpert recordings are all that remain in print. A pathetic situation for an artist with well over 30 albums to his name, one who set Billboard records that still stand to this day.
It's my gut feeling that Universal is in the process of shrinking their catalog considerably. Over the past few years, they've routinely picked an artist and slashed the artist's catalog back to one or two recent albums (if the artist is still musically active), and a compilation. And like clockwork, every couple of years, we'll get yet another different compilation that they feel will bring more buyers out of the woodwork. Why else would they take an entire body of work and distill it into a single-CD package? Universal has a history of doing this with other artists on other subsidiary labels...A&M is just the latest victim, and Universal's compilations reek of commercial exploitation at its worst.
From a sound quality standpoint, this release is spotty at best. First, a mono version of "The Lonely Bull." Why? Apparently the original masters were lost. (To be honest, my monaural LP copy of this one sounds cleaner than what made it to CD.) But some of the earlier TJB tracks really don't sound all that good. "A Taste of Honey" is still noisy and lacks a clean bass or treble. "Tijuana Taxi" is full of tape dropouts. (You'd have to have cotton in your head NOT to hear this!) Even through low-quality computer speakers, you can hear the dropouts very clearly--I sat shaking my head the first time I played it. (These dropouts are also present on the earlier GREATEST HITS album, but not to as great an extent--just shows you how magnetic recording tape can deteriorate as time passes.)
For the record, I question whether some of these are indeed the original master tapes. Given the studio equipment available back then, they very well could be. However, I also own a Mobile Fidelity LP of the first Brasil '66 album, and it sparkles...far better than any 80's vintage A&M CD ever produced. It has a high end, a low end, and incredible detail. How detailed? You can even hear when an engineer raised or lowered the level on Mendes' piano! But comparing the tracks on this CD to the same tracks on A&M's original CD album reissues of the 80's (which were made from LP masters), I hear very little difference. (It should be a night and day difference, of which I can give my readers dozens of examples.)
As the years went by, A&M's studio equipment improved, and tunes like "This Guy's..." sound better. The "tube remastering" is arguably good or bad, depending on your views of adding 2nd-order harmonic distortion to the original tapes to make them sound "warmer."
The song selection is hardly "Definitive" by any means: we once compiled a list of Tijuana Brass' charting singles, and came up with enough music to completely fill an 80-minute CD. Many are left out. That's only a minor nitpick. What bothers me more is that it's jarring to go from a classic TJB track into some Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis funk. This is indicative of a set that by any measure should have been *two* CDs: Tijuana Brass on disc 1, and solo works on disc 2.
For casual listeners (the obvious target of this release), this CD will give you most of the popular hits in one package. But for collectors for something new, the only thing this package is good for are the excellent Alpert-penned notes in the booklet. One can only hope that true TJB fans will get a decent box one of these days that covers all the bases: the hits, the rarities and the fan favorites. Until then, it's back to the vinyl...
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131 of 145 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2001
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
While it's always a thrill seeing a new Herb Alpert CD, I kind of wonder about this one. Yet another Greatest Hits collection, but this one with a new twist. A 20-bit mastering system is used here, yet it's more of a two-bit sound. There are so many dropouts in songs like "Tijuana Taxi" and "The Work Song" that it actually detracts from the performance. The original master tapes of "Lonely Bull" were lost, so an enhanced mono version is used here.
One other complaint I have is that this should've been a 2 CD set. Alpert certainly had enough hits in his career to justify a 2 disc set. The TJB hits alone would've filled one CD. But the other tunes that are here a nice representation - albeit too short - of Alpert's long career. It's just too bad that a bad mastering job was done on this collection, because Alpert deserves better treatment.
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56 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Herb Alpert is one of those musicians that everyone has probably heard of, but not many really know when it comes to his music. Yes they have heard his pop hit with Janet Jackson "Diamonds", yes they know he is one of the brains behind A&M music, and yes they may even know an instrumental hit he had called "Rise". One reason for purchasing "Definitive Hits" was to get to know him better when it came to his music. From what I had heard, his horn playing was extremely good and I wanted to hear more. I figured purchasing a Greatest Hits collection would be a great starting point. I'm happy to report - I am very satisfied.
This CD does a great job at chronicling about 1/4 century of Herb Alpert's career - starting in 1962 and going out into 1987. The CD really covers three distinct phases of Alpert's career. The bulk of the CD (or first 13 songs), cover Herb when he was with his band, the Tijuana Brass. This really covers a period from 1962 to 1968. The second phase is Herb's "solo" period" from 1979-1982 (I assume he laid low while building A&M records in the 70s). The third phase is from the album "Keep Your Eye on Me" which was a phase in which Herb would embark on a collaborative period with established vocalist in a similar manner like Carlos Santana would do a decade later.
In Phase 1, the "Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass" period; the CD presents 13 songs that Herb did with his band - The Tijuana Brass. These songs have a very distinct Mexican feel to it and have a lot of horns. This is where you will get to know Herb Alpert's roots. The guy is one heck of a horn player. One thing that did disappoint me is that Herb wasn't a big songwriter and that his songs were all written by others. However, its Alpert and the Tijuana Brass' great instrumentation that will give all of the songs a very three dimensional effect (I'm sure the remastering really helps here). In these songs, the name of the song is very reflective to how the song sounds. So "The Lonely Bull" will give you the feel of a bullfight. Whipped Cream will remind you of "Whipped Cream", "Zorba the Greek" reminds you of "Zorba the Greek". There isn't a song title that isn't backed up and described well by the music. Really good stuff. This is a testament to Herb Alpert being one of the outstanding producers. You'll probably recognize many of the instrumentals (I'm pretty sure I heard "Spanish Flea" from some 70s game show as background music for describing prizes and sponsors)
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the Burt Bacharach/Hal David written song called "This Guy's In Love With You". In this song we hear Herb Alpert on lead vocals - and he's terrific. Herb shows he has a very powerful voice in delivering a very powerful and emotional performance on this track. My question is why doesn't he sing more often? You'll hear some horns on this song, but you'll hear less horns by the Tijuana Brass than on the other songs.
On Phase 2, there are four recordings from solo albums Herb did without the Tijuana Brass. "Route 101" is a nice song it continues the theme of the song describing the title. You'll get a feel from driving down Highway 101 in California into Tijuana Mexico. "Fandago" has more of a Tijuana Brass recording (Alpert mentions this in the liner notes as well). "Fandago" has more of a modern Latin Jazz feel. "Rise" is possibly the most well known Herb Alpert instrumental. It has more of a seductive feel than anything else I heard. In fact, back in 1979, "Rise" was heard in many discos. "Rotation" while not as strong as "Rise" is from the same album shows the modern Latin Jazz feel (again mentioned by Alpert in the Liner Notes), but you'll hear what I call "soft strokes" of Rise in certain parts.
Phase 3 includes three songs from the album "Keep Your Eye on Me". This was a 1987 album which marked a radical direction for Herb Alpert. On this album, Herb would start combining his talents with other vocalists. The most noteable is Janet Jackson on the song "Diamonds". "Diamonds" is a perfect fusion between Janet's unique vocals and Herb's unique horn playing. An underrated song is "Making Love in the Rain" which features a vocalist named Lisa Keith who really does an incredible job with the vocals. The third song is the weakest of the three - the title track from "Keep Your Eye On Me" which also features some Lisa Keith vocals. These three songs were not produced by Alpert, but were produced by R&B producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (who also penned the 3 songs). I think it shows great maturity on Alpert's part at this point of his career to put his trust in other producers. I only wish they would have included some more songs from the album.
This album contains some good liner notes. You'll see a lot of the production credits for each album. The best part of this is that Herb himself writes a few sentences describing his feelings on the song - this is invaluable stuff. There also is a nice intro and some words from Burt Bacharach. I only wish they also included the lyrics to the vocal songs that are included on here. The songs are almost in chronological order - I'm not sure why the decision was made to put some of them slightly out of order.
This is a great collection. It helped me learn a lot more about a sensational musician in Herb Alpert and gain a full appreciation for his talents. I highly recommend this collection.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I couldn't possibly give a compilation of these 20 classic recordings anything less than 5 stars because the quality of music contained here is so great. However, this disc has its' flaws which should be considered. First, while all of the selections are really good, not all of them would really be considered to be among Alpert's "definitive hits". I don't really think "Lollipops and Roses" or "So What's New" are quite as definitive as songs that are absent from this collection. ("A Banda", "Wade in the Water", "Jerusalem", "Beyond" and "North on South Street" come to mind immediately.) Second, it's hard to tell exactly what this compilation is supposed to be. If it's a hit singles collection, then why are some non-hits represented? If it's supposed to be a "definitive" overview then why are so many years of Alpert's recording career not represented? If it's supposed to be a chronological sampling, then why does "Casino Royale" follow "This Guy's in Love with You" and why do the songs from RISE follow the songs from FANDANGO? Third, this is the first Alpert collection to be remastered from the original masters and there's good news and bad news. Among the good news is that we finally get "The Lonely Bull" in mono and "Casino Royale" has never sounded better. The bad news is that the master for "Tijuana Taxi" is in very poor condition! It has tons of drop outs, particularly during the drum fills toward the end of the song. It would've been smart to have included that track in mono as well, especially since the mono mix is a little different and has never been available on CD before. ("Zorba the Greek", "Spanish Flea" and "A Taste of Honey" also had different mixes for their single/radio mono versions. It would be great to see some of these become available on a future release.) Most of the other tracks don't really sound much different, sound quality-wise. My fourth point is that this is the first new Alpert reissue in the U.S. in 14 years but didn't really offer anything for the Alpert fanatic. Some hit singles that would've been welcome on a compilation like this, include "Carmen", "Fox Hunt", "Save the Sunlight" and "Catfish". It should be mentioned, however, that the liner notes are fantastic and it really is a beautiful package. And, once more, it is music that deserves no less than 5 stars.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Nice compilation for starters, but anoying limited for real fans. When will A&M finally release all his albums in remastered versions? How much would we like to have Herb's 12" versions on CD? Or his alternative versions and B-sides? An extensive box set in addition would be nice as well. Just think that these mastertapes are only collecting dust in the vaults of Universal... Could someone at A(lpert)&M(oss) wake up and take action? Your founder deserves more than one-CD-collections.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Because of more modern technology, this album sounds much better than his previous hit collections such as "The 25th Anniversary: volume 1 & 2. Thus, this is the best single-disc collection containing the majority of his hits as a solo or with the Tijuana Brass Band. The next logical step would be a 4 or 5 CD box set containing ALL hit chart entries, rarities, unreleased material, b-sides, and live tracks. Herb Alpert deserves box set treatment.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
"Definitive Hits" - I don't think so. The content here does not reflect this unfortunate choice of title. Certainly not definitive - less than half of Alpert's top-100 songs are represented here. And these tracks are not all hits either. There are several album cuts here that, while not inferior in their own right, in no way can be classified as "hits". The title is little more than a marketing trick intended to distinguish this piece from the mass of other Alpert hits compilations. Unfortunately, this is a not an uncommon occurrance in the music sales arena. Once past the misleading title, this piece presents many of the most-recognized Alpert tunes giving a decent, if pick-and-choose overview of Alpert's music.

Sound quality overall is excellent. The use of tube equipment was utilized to preserve the character of the early material. However, all the tubes in the world can't hide the defects evident in the source tapes for some of the songs. I would not recommend purchasing this piece on the idea of obtaining a major improvement in sound quality alone. The selection of songs on this CD, while not optimum, would still be the overriding consideration of purchasing it over any of the other A&M Alpert compilations available.

If you're looking for a truly definitive Alpert collection, you'll have to wait for a box set to have the job done right. A&M - are you listening?
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This CD, released just 4 days before Herb's 66th birthday, is a great compilation and retrospect of one of the Recording Industry's biggest and brightest stars! Included on this CD is a combination mix of both Herb Alpert and the TJB's hits and Herb's solo career. My only disappointment is that some of the biggest hits are left out. It would probably take a 6 CD set to include a majority of the TJB's hits and Herb's solo hits, something that the dedicated Alpert fans and myself have been patiently waiting for. But, listening to this compilation, brings back pleasant memories of the sound that made Herb and the TJB a household word. Overall, the sound quality is better than past A&M releases, the song selection is good, and I highly recommend this CD to someone who is looking to find a Disc that offers music no longer heard on radio and is wanting to fill their collection with a solid Easy Listening/Jazz Compact Disc.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2002
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I'm giving this C.D. 10 stars! There is nothing to nit-pick or complain about here. Listening to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, or Herb Alpert alone is pure pleasure. I was a little kid when my father played his Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass records - I enjoyed H. A. & T. B. then, I enjoy them now.
As a woman, I can tell you that there is NO sexier love song in existence than Herb Alpert singing "This Guy's in Love with You." So simple, so smooth, so eloquent. Makes me so...tingly...
This is a fantastic antidote to the current stuff that passes for music out there today. With a few exceptions,I find most of today's "popular" music to be more about singers trying to impress us with their vocal gyrations & volume, and producers using their techno toys to fill in where an actual melody might work instead. Even my pop-music-loving kids have listened to this C.D. with me and have asked, "Hey, who IS this?"
The whole C.D. is fun, nostalgic, relaxing, and just cool. Simply stated, listening to this C.D. makes me happy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I like all kinds of music and every genre has its bests. Herb Alpert is one of the best. Most of the songs are instrumentals and if you are not a fan of instrumentals you would do yourself a disservice if you skipped this. The trumpets are the vocals but to say that the songs are just about the trumpets does not take in to consideration the complexity of the arrangements.

This is great music for young and old and you should be playing this for your kids from the day they are born to create the synapses they will use the rest of their life. Herb Alpert should be in the collection of every true music fan.
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