On the patio at Ray’s Corner

We haven’t been to Ray’s Corner for a while, and tonight is an especially good time to go. My dad turned 86 today. (He’s good, thanks.)

Four years ago, he gave me his record collection. I sorted through it, picked out a few things I wanted and shipped the rest to the senior citizens center my brother was running at the time.

This might have been the first record I set aside. The Baja Marimba Band were peers and label mates of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in the mid- to late ’60s, cranking out a slightly more irreverent bunch of “south of the border” easy-listening instrumentals. Not quite lounge. More like patio.

This record is from 1965. I’ve written about it before. My brothers and I listened to this endlessly as kids. The pops and ticks and skips on Dad’s copy are testament to that. That I have two or three better copies of this record is testament to how deeply it is seared into my head.

While record digging, I often come across other records by the Baja Marimba Band. I look them over. Then I put them back, figuring there is no way they are going to be as good as than my dad’s record.

Until recently, that is. I came across a Baja Marimba Band record I’d never seen.

This record, from 1968, seemed promising.

As with most Baja Marimba Band records, it has a bunch of instrumental covers of contemporary pop and show tunes along with a couple of original compositions. Among the covers: Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Always Something There To Remind Me,” the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere” and the Turtles’ “Elenore.”

So I picked it up for 50 cents.

Then I put it on the turntable … and .. well … we won’t be sharing this record. Though I’d hoped otherwise, my hunch was right. It wasn’t as good as my dad’s record. Not even close.

But now I wonder … did I grow up with an exceptionally good record from 1965 or is my perception skewed, rendering it simply a guilty pleasure? Whatever. It’s part of the soundtrack of my life.

So, from Ray’s Corner, the apartment with the loud music, where the martinis are made of gin with the vermouth bottle held about a foot away, enjoy a couple of cuts from the only Baja Marimba Band record my dad owned and the only one I need.

“Juarez” and “Hecho En Mexico,” the Baja Marimba Band, from “Baja Marimba Band Rides Again,” 1965. It’s out of print, as is this 2001 best-of CD with “Juarez” on it.

Though Ray is hoisting a gin martini here, margaritas may better accompany these tunes. As always, you be the judge.


Filed under June 2011, Sounds

5 responses to “On the patio at Ray’s Corner

  1. J.A. Bartlett

    That picture of Ray screams for a caption contest. “Dry enough for you, sonnyboy?”

  2. Scott Thomson

    Gotta love it!
    My dad (he would turn 108 in September) would be more likely to listen to Harry Lauder, the pop musician of 19th Century Scotland. But I liked and listened to Herb Alpert, and vaguely remember the BMB. (What a great time musically: all the instrumentals, and how many other-than-English hits were on the Top 40 at one time — Sukiyaki, the Singing Nun, etc.?)
    In 1967, Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66 was my favorite group — “The Look of Love” is still one of the best things ever, and should be two or three verses longer. But the best man from my first wedding insisted that I should be listening to Iron Butterfly, I heeded him, and things went downhill after that.
    Skip the martini — I’ll have another Rusty Nail …

  3. Happy Birthday Dad! B/W Where’s My Olive??

  4. Terry Anderson

    We had the same record collection. Kind of bouncy. I miss my dad (he passed away 30 years ago). I also miss that beautiful stereo console that we had in the living room. It wasn’t just a music box, it was significant piece of living room art. We weren’t a big TV-watching family, so the stereo was on most of the day – whether it was dad’s Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane, my sisters’ ballet and musical records, or my rock ‘n roll. Now for a little salt between index and thumb, a swig of tequila and a slice of lime.

  5. My parents weren’t big on Alpert (tho, they had some) but they had their own version of “patio”: Bert Kaempfert was the one I got seared into my childish brain (“Red Roses for a Blue Lady” and “3 O’clock in the Morning”). One thing this kind MOR shopping music all had in common was that it was all so goddam happy. When I hear it now it can’t help but switch on some of those positive brain chemicals. And as I’m now firmly ensconced into my middle age, I need that once in a while.

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