Not unlike other years, the #1 selling album of 1966 was actually released the year before. However, unlike the many years leading up to this moment, the #1 album this time is NOT a Broadway or cinematic soundtrack. The #1 selling album in America in 1966? The instrumental classic, “Whipped Cream & Other Delights”, by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.
The son of immigrants from what is now Ukraine, Herb Alpert grew up in southern California in the 1950s, even performing for two years in the famous USC Trojan Marching Band. (Anyone remember their appearance in the Fleetwood Mac song Tusk?) Anyway, after several years as a successful studio musician, he formed his band with several other session players, and he began a highly successful string of album sales running through most of the 1960s. The biggest seller was this album, “Whipped Cream & Other Delights”. I can specifically recall my parents owning this album, and while I did enjoy the music, as a growing boy I was much more interested in the album cover. I’ll stop there… but for any of you other curious boys and girls out there, it’s worth a search.
All of the songs are instrumental, led primarily by Alpert’s trumpet, with a slow, mellow and cool feel that makes this a great soundtrack for any gathering where conversation is key, but relaxation is essential. Most recognizable, at least to me, is the song “A Taste of Honey”, the leadoff song, and I also particularly enjoy “Whipped Cream”, which many will recognize as one of the main theme songs from the legendary show “The Dating Game”. “Bittersweet Samba” really captures the overall mood and the southern California/ Mexican flair of this act.
Like I said, this album takes me way back to my early days, raised by a set of parents who loved me, loved music, and loved a good time. Over six million Americans shared in this vibe, a unique and unusual sound of calm amidst very turbulent times.