Singer-guitarist Trini Lopez, Texas-born and of Mexican descent, skyrocketed to fame with his 1963 recording of Pete Seeger's "If I Had a Hammer." Lopez's bright and spirited rendition of the protest song went to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and even eclipsed Peter, Paul, and Mary's Grammy-winning top ten hit of one year earlier. It launched Lopez to a successful career as an all-around entertainer, television and film actor, and prolific recording artist. "If I Had a Hammer" came to disc because producer-arranger Don Costa caught Lopez's act at the West Hollywood nightspot P.J.'s. Costa sensed his potential and brought Reprise Records founder Frank Sinatra to see whether he concurred. The Chairman did, and Lopez was signed to Reprise. He recorded 20 albums for the label through 1969 as well as numerous non-LP sides. On December 3, Omnivore will reissue two dozen of those sides on CD as The Rare Reprise Singles.
The music on The Rare Reprise Singles reflects the diversity of Lopez's sound. He was championed early in his career by Buddy Holly and recorded a couple of 45s with his band The Big Beats under the direction of Holly's producer, Norman Petty. He then pursued solo recording for the King and Volk labels before Don Costa discovered him playing at PJ's. At Reprise, Lopez continued to record a wide range of material including concept albums of love songs, folk classics, rhythm and blues, country, Latin music, and even old-fashioned sing-alongs. Don Costa remained with him for most of his Reprise tenure, with his final albums produced by Snuff Garrett and the team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.
The Rare Reprise Singles collects Lopez's non-LP sides for the label including the studio version of his rousing take on the Bernstein/Sondheim West Side Story classic "America" (stylized by the artist as "A-Mer-I-Ca"), a Bob Gaudio-helmed single of Randy Newman's wry "Love Story," both sides of a Christmas 45 ("El Niño Del Tambor (The Little Drummer Boy)" b/w "Noche de Paz (Silent Night)"/"Let There Be Peace"), his funky reinvention of The Vogues' "Five O'Clock World," and Paul Anka and Bobby Gosh's groovy "You Make My Day." Other highlights include the movie theme "Made in Paris," one of the most rocking songs Burt Bacharach and Hal David ever wrote, and Frank DeVol and Mack David's "The Bramble Bush" from the 1967 war film The Dirty Dozen. Lopez was one of the titular twelve (No. 10, to be precise) and he also recorded his own tie-in song to the movie. That track, "The Ballad of The Dirty Dozen," is also here.
The collection features liner notes from Gene Sculatti as well as photos and memorabilia images. Trini Lopez died from COVID-19 complications at age 83 in August 2020. As many of his Reprise albums have never been reissued on CD (not to mention subsequent recordings for Capitol, RCA, Roulette, Polydor, and other labels), this is a most welcome surprise and hopefully just the first release from Lopez's discography. The Rare Reprise Singles is due from Omnivore Recordings on December 3. You'll find the track listing and pre-order links below.
Trini Lopez, The Rare Reprise Singles (Omnivore, 2021) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada Links TBD / Omnivore)
- A-Mer-I-Ca (Reprise R-20, 168, 1963)
- Let It Be Known (Reprise R-20, 1968, 1963)
- I've Lost My Love for You (Reprise 0328, 1964)
- Regresa a Mi (Return to Me) (Reprise 0421, 1965)
- Mi Felicidad (Little Miss Happiness) (Reprise 0421, 1965)
- Made in Paris (Reprise 0435, 1966)
- Pretty Little Girl (Reprise 0435, 1966)
- Up to Now (Reprise 0574, 1967)
- The Bramble Bush (Reprise 0596, 1967)
- The Ballad of the Dirty Dozen (Reprise 0596, 1967)
- Together (Reprise 0618, 1967)
- Master Jack (Reprise 0618, 1967)
- Malagueña Salerosa (Reprise 0770, 1968)
- Something Tells Me (Reprise 0770, 1968)
- El Niño Del Tambor (The Little Drummer Boy) (Reprise 0801, 1968)
- Noche De Paz (Silent Night) / Let There Be Peace (Reprise 0801, 1968)
- Love Story (Reprise 0879, 1969)
- Five O'Clock World (Reprise 0912, 1970)
- You Make My Day (Reprise 0912, 1970)
- Time to Get It Together (Reprise 0933, 1970)
- Mexican Medicine Man (Reprise 0933, 1970)
- Su-Kal-De-Don (Reprise (Turkey) 70704, 1970)
- There Was a Crooked Man (Reprise 0975, 1970)
- Let's Think About Living (Reprise 0975, 1970)