Thursday, April 2, 2020

"Diamonds" by Herb Alpert

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3091
Date:  04/11/1987
Debut:  84
Peak:  5
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Dance-Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  The famous trumpeter/label head (A&M) decided to modernize his sound and sought out the help of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the songwriting/production team behind recent hits by Janet Jackson and The Human League (incidentally, both were A&M artists). The trio worked together on four tracks that would appear on Alpert's album Keep Your Eye on Me. The title track was the LP's first single and it did well at R&B getting to #3. It didn't do as well at Pop where it stalled at a minor #46. However, Alpert and Jam & Lewis had this second single ace up their sleeve. Featuring an assist from newly minted superstar Janet Jackson along with vocalist Lisa Keith, the hooky tune had more mainstream appeal and it ended up reaching the Pop Top 10 while hitting #1 at both R&B and Dance. It was Alpert's first (and only) #1 at R&B and his fifth Pop Top 10. The hit would help the album reach gold level sales.

ReduxReview:  Alpert was certainly smart in taking advantage of Jam & Lewis, who had been working with several artists at A&M. Bringing along Janet Jackson was another brilliant move. Still, even though this was credited as by Herb Alpert, we all really know that this is basically a Janet Jackson track with Alpert noodling in the background. Jam & Lewis do a great job incorporating Alpert's trumpet, but I doubt this song was written with Alpert in mind. It was probably something they had already written and just adapted it for Alpert. It really should have been the first single from the LP as there was no doubt it was going to be a hit, but I think it was held off for release so that it wouldn't interfere with Jackson's run of singles. It was conveniently released just as Jackson's "Let's Wait Awhile" was peaking and before her next single "The Pleasure Principle" was issued out. It was a smart move that paid off for Alpert.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  When Alpert first began his recording career, it wasn't with his trumpet. He started out as a vocalist and in 1961 he issued out his first solo single under the name Dore Alpert. The songs on the single, "Dreamland" and "Gonna Get a Girl," were cute 60s pop tunes that ended up going nowhere. A second single also tanked. However, it was Alpert's negative experience working with a major label that prompted him to start his own indie label. Along with Jerry Moss, Alpert founded Carnival Records in 1962. Their first release, "Tell It to the Birds," was another vocal song credited to Dore Alpert. However, after its release Alpert and Moss found out that the Carnival name was already being used by another record company. So they changed it to A&M, which stood for Alpert and Moss. There would be two more singles released under the Dore Alpert name, but the label would get their first hit when Alpert developed his Tijuana Brass band and recorded the instrumental "The Lonely Bull." Release late in 1962, the song would make it to #6 the following year. The hit helped the emerging label and within a decade A&M would be one of the biggest indie labels in the world featuring an eclectic lineup of artists that included The Carpenters, Cheech & Chong, The Police, Suzanne Vega, Peter Frampton, Chuck Mangione, and Janet Jackson. Alpert maintained a recording career over the years with and without the Tijuana Brass. Just a couple short years after this single was released, Alpert and Moss decided to sell A&M to Polygram. The duo were to remain in charge of the label and run it as they wanted, but of course the conglomerate quickly stepped in and started making changes. Alpert and Moss hung around for three years, but finally bowed out. They eventually filed a lawsuit against Polygram for breach of an integrity clause. The suit was settled for $200 million. The A&M label lasted into the 90s and took on more hit artists like Sheryl Crow. In 1998, the label along with Polygram was merged with Universal Music. A lot of changes and fallout happened afterwards, but the A&M imprint still hung around and is still in use.


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