Trini was on a roll …
His albums were doing well, he had songs in the charts, and his shows were well attended.
The albums that broke him, especially his earlier live albums from 1963 “Trini Lopez at PJ's’ and “More Trini Lopez at PJ's” featured his rock-y go-go sound and had charted well.
You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
This was his fourth album, a live album and featured more rock a go-go music.
For a change, though, Trini took his sound from the west-coast (PJs) to the east-coast (Basin St).
That is, assuming this is live and there is no reason to think it isn’t. There was a tendency to release studio albums as "live" albums with audience noise between the songs, in the 1960s. This has, though, a roughness as well as tinkling glasses and background chatter which suggest live. Trini's listeners, also, expected him "live".
According to "That Would Be Me: Rock & Roll Survivor To Hollywood Actor" by Trini's drummer, Mickey Jones, Trini and the band were opening for Smothers brothers and it was probably the most important gig of Trini's career to that time.
NYC, then, could make or break you.
Basin Street East was a well-known (circa 1964) venue nightclub in New York City. Several live albums were recorded there, including Peggy Lee's “Basin Street East Proudly Presents Miss Peggy Lee” (1961), Billy Eckstine's “At Basin St. East” (1961), Ray Bryant’s “Live at Basin Street East” (1964) and others though Trini’s was, perhaps, the first rock ‘n’ roll album recorded there (though his rock was aimed at a slightly older 20 something crowd).
Not surprisingly for a working musician Trini’s live repertoire is large. His first two albums had different live at PJs material and here he doubles up on only three songs “La Bamba”, “If I Had A Hammer” (which was a big single hit, #3 1963) and “What'd I Say” all from the “Trini Lopez at PJ's” (1963) album, though "La Bamba" and "If I Had A Hammer" are new arrangements.
Perhaps, because he had gone to “sophisticated” NYC, he also fills out his sound a little. His first two albums at PJs were done with his small trio (bass and drums added to Trini's guitar) but here he adds an additional percussionist and a seven-piece brass section that includes jazz stars Thad Jones, Snooky Young, and Clark Terry.
Both of his earlier live albums had his go-go beat though the first lent to electric folk whereas the second was more pop. This album doesn’t stray from the rocky go-go sound but takes material from all over the shop including rock, soul, folk, pop and Tin Pan Alley.
Trini doesn’t include any of his own compositions but sticks with the familiar. What makes the songs distinctive, apart from the musicianship, are the arrangements which are broadened to incorporate the added brass.
This is not as sweaty or danceable as his earlier albums but it is perfect for sitting, toe tapping, tapas and wine at a dinner club ….
Check out my earlier comments for biographical detail on Trini.
Arranged and produced by the great Don Costa.
Tracks (best in italics)
- La Bamba – (Trini Lopez) – Ritchie Valen’s immortal #22 hit from 1958 and one forever associated with rockers whose ancestry lies south of the border. Perfect for Trini … and he knows it. A great performance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Bamba_(song)
- Alright Okay You Win – (Sid Wyche – Mayme Watts) – A trad pop standard first recorded by Ella Johnson (1955) but done by all the dinner club acts, including Peggy Lee (1958), Bobby Darin (1960), Louis Prima (1961), Vic Damone (1961), Billy Eckstine (1962).
- Stagger Lee – (Lloyd Price – Harold Logan) – the iconic blues folk song done by everyone though Lloyd Price had a #1(US) with it in 1959. Trini gets everyone to do a sing-a-long. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagger_Lee
- Be Careful It's My Heart – (Irving Berlin) – from the film “Holiday Inn” (1942). Pat Boone October 1957. A pretty little song.
- Jezebel – (Wayne Shanklin) – In 1956, Gene Vincent, In 1962, The Everly Brothers 1962. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jezebel_(song)
- Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home – (Hughie Cannon – Claude Sharpe) – A regular song on the dinner club concert circuit. This, again, was done by everyone including Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, Al Hirt, Della Reese and others. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Won%27t_You_Come_Home_Bill_Bailey
- Hello Dolly – (Jerry Herman) – from the popular musical of the same name and done by everyone but for ever associated with Louis Armstrong (#1US, 1964). Trini sings it in Spanish ("Hola Chica", cool) as well as English … and it swings.
- You Need Hands – (Roy Irwin) – a old trad pop song which was a #3UK hit for Max Bygraves in 1958. Not too bad.
- Hallelujah I Love Her So – (Ray Charles) – Ray Charles' debut single and #5 US R&B hit from 1956. Eddie Cochran had a guitar based version from 1959 which went to #22 in the UK in 1959.It has been often covered. Trini sings this well and he gets some twangy guitar in though horns dominate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallelujah_I_Love_Her_So
- Personality – (Lloyd Price – Harold Logan) – Co-writer Lloyd Price had a #2US hit with this in 1959 (#9 UK 1959). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_(Lloyd_Price_song)
- If I Had A Hammer – (Lee Hayes – Pete Seeger) – One of the most well-known of all folk songs. It was a #10 US hit for Peter, Paul and Mary (1962) and then #3 US for Trini in 1963 but The Weavers had popularised the song in folk circles after its single release by them in 1950. Trini always does this well and it's theme could also apply to Hispanics as well as Afro-Americans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_I_Had_a_Hammer
- What'd I Say – (Ray Charles) – One of the greatest of all early R&B (and eventually soul) songs also became a great rock ‘n’ roll song. Writer Ray Charles had a 1959 hit with it (#1 US R&B, #6 US Billboard Hot 100). It was subsequently recorded by everyone including Jerry Lee Lewis (who had a #30 1961) with it and Elvis Presley who used the song in his 1964 film "Viva Las Vegas" and released it as a single. This has a lot of drive. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What%27d_I_Say
Not as good as the other live albums but still, groovy! … I'm keeping it.
#19 Cashbox charts
Alright Okay You Win
Be Careful It's My Heart
Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home
You Need Hands
Hallelujah I Love Her So
If I Had a Hammer
What'd I Say
A full concert with orchestra from 1968
with The Everly brothers
- According to "That Would Be Me: Rock & Roll Survivor To Hollywood Actor" by drummer, Mickey Jones opening night (which isn't this show, I don't think) had a young Elliot Gould, Barbara Streisand, Sammy Davis Jr and Quincy Jones and other celebrities in the audience. The show was a success, by the third songs people were dancing on the seats and the band did three encores including a 15 minute version of "What'd I Say".
- Trini's brother, Jesse, is on conga.
- “The club was located in the Shelton Towers Hotel (now called The New York Marriott East Side), and replaced a previous club in the hotel called Casa Cugat”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basin_Street_East
- Trini's bass player was the cool Dave Shriver who backed Eddie Cochran in The Kelly Four (http://davidshriver.webs.com/), and on drums was Mikey Jones who left in 1964 (to back the similar Johnny Rivers before backing Bob Dylan and playing with The First Edition and others (before taking up acting) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mickey_Jones). Gene Riggio replaced Mickey Jones and may have played on the Basin Street album (Lopez went to tour Europe after ending a two-year engagement at P.J.’s. Gene Riggio replaced Mickey at some stage around the Basin St appearances. He also backed Eddie Cochran in The Kelly Four
RIP: Fats Domino 1928 – 2017