Friday, June 29, 2012


The Be My Baby beat idea came up around the time I was researching the Diddley beat (surprise: I still haven't posted that playlist) in late 2010. I've been sitting on this for a while, but I reached a point where I felt pretty happy with the majority of the selections.

See, there are plenty of musicians that pay homage to the signature drum figure in the opening of the Ronettes classic. Many just grab the riff and run. And a few put some thought into their borrowed goods. So, the idea here was to focus on the different threads that come up in these interpretations.

Many stick close to the gooey, caramel tone of the original. Of that camp, some of the interpretations are literal, like the Explorers Club's "Forever," which channels the Beach Boys on multiple levels, from "Don't Worry Baby" response-songism to the replica vocal harmonies to the song title (a titular nod to Dennis Wilson's swoony song... except when handled by Uncle Jessie?). Quite a few successfully update the melodrama of that beat for their respective periods -- I've got my eye on you, Depeche Mode and Jesus & Mary Chain. Better still is the small handful that find ways to completely invert the history of the beat. Crystal Caines keeps mostly the echo to create a gothic quality that wraps A$AP Ferg's narration of a wake in a morbid cloak.

Of course, there are a number of period "reproductions," such as "Rag Doll" and "Dead Man's Curve." Interesting how even within this batch, there is considerable variety of how to spin the beat. Joe South uses the beat (and castanets!) to spice up his version of "Rose Garden." It's an odd blend of country twang courtesy of his voice and nostalgic pop sensibilities via the arrangement. It has its charms. Françoise Hardy's "Pourtant Tu M'Aimes (I Still Love Him)" employs the beat in the musical sense, but strips all the echoe-y, booming affect. The arrangement is spare and simple -- a fitting call for her.

I'd love to return to this theme, but it'll likely be a while before I have a full set of interesting nuggets. Maybe we'll delve into various girl groups (or boy bands) next?

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