Introduction to the Brass Ring
The Brass Ring were a short-lived band in the 1960s who had scored minor hits: “The Phoenix Love Theme (Senza Fine)” and”The Dis-Advantages of You”. Led by saxophonist Phil Bodner, they formed in New York city and were musically similar to Herb Alpert and were one of the bands that were included in the short-lived musical movement as the Now Sound. “The Dis-Advantages of You” was used for the film The Flight Of The Phoenix as well as for the cigarette brand Benson & Hedges’ commercials. They also released a record, their cover version of a little-known Paul McCartney composition called “Love In The Open Air”, which is now a sought-after item by collectors.
Who was the Brass Ring?
The Brass Ring was a short-lived outfit from the 1960s. The band was formed in New York and led by saxophonist, reed player and arranger Phil Bodner (b. 1917 – d. 2008). Bodner used to be one of the busiest instrumentalists during his day, having played and recorded especially from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. Bodner used to be one of the regulars of the Command label, owned by another renowned musician and bandleader Enoch Light.
Defining the “now sound”
Like the Brass Ring itself, the musical style that the band used to specialize was also a short-lived one, called the “now sound.” This is a type of musical genre that is similar in many ways to space age pop, except that the “now sound” uses rock and roll as its basic rhythm, instead of the bossa nova that’s usually found in space-age pop, lounge-pop, and other related genres.
Because of this, the “now sound” also plays the usual rock and roll-related instruments such as electric guitars, electric bass guitars, and pounding drums. Big band sax and brass sections often vie with guitar for the lead instrument. Finest examples of artists of this mostly instrumental genre were The Tijuana Brass and the Baja Marimba Band, both of whom were involved with musician Herbert “Herb” Alpert. It’s no coincidence that the Brass Ring’s sound echoes Alpert’s, although with a more loose rhythm.
The band’s two Top 40 hits: “The Phoenix Love Theme (Senza Fine)” and “The Dis-Advantages of You”
The Brass Ring did a few records during its brief career, their best-known tunes being “The Phoenix Love Theme (Senza Fine)” and “The Dis-Advantage of You.”
“The Phoenix Love Theme (Senza Fine)” was written by Alec Wilder and Gino Paoli. It was used as in the drama/action film The Flight of the Phoenix(starring Jimmy Stewart). Also released as a single on Dunhill Records, it also became a Top 40 on the pop chart, peaking at #32 in 1966. The song was also used for a Benson and Hedges TV ad.
“The Dis-Advantages of You,” meanwhile, was also released on Dunhill and became a Top 40 pop hit at #36 in 1967. It was written by Mitch Leigh.
They released a handful of albums during their brief recording career from 1966 to 1970: Lara’s Theme, Love Theme from the Flight of the Phoenix, Sunday Night at the Movies, The Dis-Advantages Of You, The Now Sound of the Brass Ring, Gazpacho: Brass Ring Featuring Phil Bodner, Only Love and the compilation album The Best of Brass Ring Featuring Phil Bodner, all also released under Dunhill Records. Only three of the albums reached the Billboard 200 album chart: Love Theme from the Flight of the Phoenix(#109), Sunday Night at the Movies (#157), and The Dis-Advantages of You(#193).
They released other several best-of compilations as well. The Brass Ring stayed and recorded together until disbanding in 1972, and one of the last labels they recorded was the Project 3 label owned by Enoch Light. The Brass Ring also did a cover of Paul McCartney’s instrumental number “Love in the Open Air,” his soundtrack to the film The Family Way. This particular record is highly esteemed by vinyl collectors.