Saturday, October 19, 2013

Herb Alpert - Beyond (1980)

Released: July, 1980 (A&M)
Produced by: Herb Alpert, Randy Badazz, Andy Armer
Peak on the US Billboard 200: 28

Side One Side Two
The Continental
Reach for the Stars
Interlude (For Erica)
Red Hot
That's the Way of the World
Keep It Goin'
The Factory

 Charted singles: Hot 100 ACR&B
 Beyond 503944


Alpert had left behind the cocktail party music of the Tijuana Brass for instrumental disco with his 1979 hit album Rise.  Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it (this adage may be followed more closely in the record industry than elsewhere). On this follow-up to Rise, the production crew is the same and so is the format: mid-tempo instrumentals with a disco feel.  In fact, except for the final track, the whole album has a mid-'70s disco feel.  Unfortunately, while the production hasn't changed, the songwriting isn't as good as Rise.  And, to be honest, I don't think Alpert is that great of a trumpet player.  His tone is average at best and he really doesn't have great solo chops.  But those setbacks have never seemed to hamper crossover success (see Kenny G., for example).  The use of hand claps is prominent throughout the album.  So much so, this credit is on the inner sleeve:

Alpert, who contributed some tracks to Rise, didn't write any of the pieces on this disc.  However, he was the "A" in A&M Records (Jerry Moss was the "M"), so I'm sure he didn't have any problem finding material.  Currently, this album is hard to find digitally.  The only (legal) digital release I'm aware of is a Japanese CD that came out in the late '80s and is now fetching $100-200 on the secondary markets.  Too rich for my blood.  I'll stick with my vinyl LP copy, thanks.

  • Kamali: Not surprisingly, the lead track is almost the same tempo and feel as Rise, so it's almost too easy to label this formulaic and derivative (but I did it anyway).  You can't chase a hit, but they sure give it the college try here. The great Ernie Watts shows up to help out on the bridge and is almost ignored - why didn't he get a solo turn?
  • The Continental: A complete throwaway.  If the introduction doesn't turn you off, the repetitive melody will.
  • Reach for the Stars:  After an unaccompanied trumpet intro, this falls into the familiar disco lope with big hand claps on beat 4 of each measure.
  • Interlude (For Erica): Now things are looking up. A very beautiful ballad with songwriter Andy Armer on piano.  Like much of Armer's work, it is very repetitive, but the repetition works here.
  • Red Hot: Alpert and the gang keep the momentum going here with an upbeat party tune that is a welcome departure from the disco 16th-notes-on-the-high-hat feel.

  • Beyond: Now the album starts to stretch out and sound a little different.  While not leaving the disco realm entirely, this piece sounds more like something Giorgio Moroder would come up with. Lots of synth sequencing.  All that's missing is the synth drums.
  • That's the Way of the World:  A fairly straight ahead instrumental cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire tune.  A good choice for a cover.
  • Keep It Goin': A pseudo-reggae feel backs up a boring melody.  The only glitch in an otherwise enjoyable side.
  • The Factory:  The relentless percussion and bass lines churn out a memorable musical representation of a factory and set the backdrop for long, repetitive trumpet lines from Alpert and guitar work from Peter Frampton.  Yes, THAT Peter Frampton.  I know it all sounds silly but somehow it works. 

  1. The Factory
  2. Beyond
  3. Interlude (For Erica)
  4. That's the Way of the World
  5. Red Hot
  6. Kamali
  7. Keep It Goin'
  8. Reach for the Stars
  9. The Continental


  1. Thats a lot of clappers.

    Thanks to my Texas Grandma, I had a steady diet of Tijuana Brass growing up and have nothing but fond memories of almost all of their songs. Recently inherited my in-laws' vinyl collection and count seven HA & TJB classic albums among the Mantovani, Percy Faith, Chet Atkins and Mitch Miller selections.

    Liked/bought Rise but not Beyond, although as I listened to Beyond today, I'd be hard pressed to tell you it wasn't Rise I didn't hop back on the Alpert train until Keep Your Eye On Me, which I believe most fans regard as an abomination. Used to listen to it while rocking our new baby girl to sleep in 1987 as it was soothing not boring. Regrettably, the album falls outside the scope of this site's stated timeline. Is it in your collection? Will we see it over on The CD Project?

    Doesn't Alpert's career warrant a box set or two?

  2. Unless I make additional purchases, we won't be seeing any more Alpert over on The CD Project.

    If you've got duplicate copies of Chet Atkins records, let's strike a deal.