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Electronic Exotica: Alpert and Mendes, Remixed

The renowned cover of Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream and Other Delights, right, and its updated version.

Herb Alpert and Sergio Mendes, long associated with the carefree pop music of the 1960s, are back in the public eye.

Alpert broke into pop consciousness with his band the Tijuana Brass, with hits such as "Spanish Flea" and "A Taste of Honey." Among others, his 1965 album Whipped Cream and Other Delights, found its way into millions of American homes.

Forty years after helping add exotica to the American music scene, Alpert has collaborated with heavyweights of electronic music for a disc of remixed versions of his songs. The new album is called Rewhipped.

Sergio Mendes, Alpert's Brazilian colleague, is following a similar path with will.i.am, of the pop-rap group the Black Eyed Peas. The pair have updated hits by Mendes' group Brazil 66 for the CD Timeless.

Do the remixes work? Let's just say there are mixed results.

In addition to will.i.am, Mendes worked with Stevie Wonder, India.Arie and Jill Scott, among others. The songs range from old classics like "Mas Que Nada" to the new "Please Baby Don't," written and sung by John Legend.

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Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

The carefree sounds of some famous 1960's pop music are being reworked.

(Soundbite of song "Spanish Flea")

SEIGEL: That is Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass playing their hit, Spanish Flea, which was used as the bachelor's theme on TV's The Dating Game. Well now, four decades later, Alpert has teamed up with some big names in electronic music to remix his popular album, Whipped Cream and Other Delights. Alpert's contemporary, Sergio Mendes, has a similar project. He's worked with members of the rap group, The Black Eyed Peas, to update his Brazil 66 record. Our critic, Tom Moon, has a review of both projects.

Mr. BOB MOON (Music critic): Whenever I hear about some venerable music figure, who's letting the studio whiz kids remix his catalog, my first reaction is to cringe. You can hear why when you listen to the recent so-called update of this 1966 hit by Sergio Mendes and the Brazil 66. The original goes like this.

(Soundbite of song "Mas Que Nada")

Mr. MOON: The song, Mas Que Nada, somehow became very somehow became this:

(Soundbite of "Mas Que Nada Remix")

Mr. MOON: The new version is spear-headed by the Black Eyed Peas rapper, Wil-I-Am. He obviously loves the Sergio Mendes originals, so much so he can't resist barging into them and adding rap interludes that feel totally out of place. Thankfully, not all remixes are quite that coarse. Check out Herb Alpert's new Rewhipped.

(Soundbite of song "Rewhipped")

Mr. MOON: This remix works. Alpert added new trumpet solos and adlibs on many tracks, including on this version of Tangerine, which was re-imagined by D.J. Foosh.

(Soundbite of song 'Tangerine')

Mr. MOON: Rewhipped turns out to be an excellent way to appreciate the art of the remix, which is kind of like the audio equivalent of the Andy Warhol soup can. Remixers take elements from an original recording and use them as the basis for new explorations into sound and rhythm. Here's the familiar Tijuana Brass version of A Taste of Honey.

(Soundbite of song 'A Taste of Honey')

Mr. MOON: Now, listen to what John King of the Dust Brothers did with it.

(Soundbite of song "A Taste of Honey Remix")

Mr. MOON: The hay day of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass was short. Just two years after Whipped Cream came the Summer of Love. The buoyant sound of the brass was seen as quitch, an artifact from the distant past. The remixer seize on the music, not the cultural baggage that came attached to it later, and it's clear that they love it. They pump up the crunch on the drums, and they make the brass sound like it's being beamed from the other side of the galaxy. And by putting those peppy melodies and new surroundings, they've made Whipped Cream a brand new delight.

(Soundbite of brass music)

SIEGEL: The CDs are Timeless from Sergio Mendes and Whipped Cream and Other Delights rewhipped by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Our music critic is Tom Moon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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