I've wanted the Mariachi Brass' first LP on CD ever since I got my first CD player in 1986. It finally arrives on this very nice twofer that also contains the second LP plus one additional track.
Chet Baker fans have dismissed these albums for decades because of their pop appeal, the fact that the Mariachi Brass was one of many brass oriented groups thrown together by a record company to capitalize on the success of Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass in the mid-60s, and also because it has been widely speculated that Baker only agreed to record these LPs to get money to support his drug habit (and it was that habit that led to his untimely demise). But in my opinion, if you judge the music on it's own merits then the only question is: do you like mid-60s easy listening covers of pop hits or not? If not, pass this by -- even if you're a Chet Baker fan. If you don't like Tijuana Brass, Living Brass, Brass Ring and the like, you won't like this. If you do like this type of thing though, there's no real reason for you to dislike this. It's some very familiar hit tunes from the 60s, masterfully arranged, played by fantastic studio musicians (including members of the Wrecking Cru and some Tijuana Brass regulars) and perfectly balanced with Chet's wonderful flugal horn riding over the top of the other instruments. It sounds to me that he was having a good time recording these tracks -- I really can't believe he got nothing out of these sessions other than the money.
The standout tracks are "Flowers On The Wall", "Tequila" (which contains one of my all time favorite drum fills about 1:44 into the track), "Hot Toddy", "24 Hours From Tulsa", "Speedy Gonzalez", "La Bamba", "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'", and a rocking cover of the "Colonel Bogey March" from "The Bridge On The River Kwai". The latter wasn't included on either of the LPs featured here but has been included as a bonus track.
Overall, A TASTE OF TEQUILA is a more satisfying album than "HATS OFF" but there's nothing here that isn't enjoyable if you like 60s instrumental pop.
It should be noted that all tracks appear on this CD in mono. According to the liner notes, the stereo tapes have been lost. I've had TASTE OF TEQUILA in both mono and stereo versions for years though and always preferred the mono version, so you'll hear no complaint from me. And if there's any concern about the cover being different for this CD, the original covers (both front and back) are recreated inside the booklet.
This was the reissue of 2006 for me. I'm thrilled to have it on CD and highly recommend it to fans of brass-led 60s instrumental combos.