I may have mentioned in passing here or there the odd, ongoing trend of young female singers using on-the-verge-of-tears baby voices. I shouldn't single out female singers, some of the boys do it too. Enunciating as if they just learned how to speak in the past few months. Swallowing half their words in a weird bid to sound as if they've been date-rape-drugged.
There's a long tradition in recorded music of put-on voices, so weird vocal trends are nothing new. (Hello Green Day, cor blimey, lads!) But I don't know if it's ever been this pervasive and corrosive. I don't think there's ever been a time where we've heard fewer natural voices.
Anyway, all of that is just preamble to presenting a song I heard today on Morning Becomes Eclectic. It was notable because an actual baby seemed to be singing.
It wasn't an actual baby as it turned out. It was just this inventive young rascal sampling someone.
I couldn't believe someone had finally taken the baby voice trend to its logical conclusion by singing exactly like a baby, so I looked up the singer, who goes by the name of Bababooey. Sorry, not Bababooey, Beabadoobee.
Turns out, though, that creative powerhouse who sampled her song speeded it up significantly, raising the pitch of Beabopbaloola's voice.
I was disappointed when I learned that Beabadoobelooby was just another run of the mill follower of the whiny-almost-baby-voice trend and not a pioneer of actual baby voice singing.
But I hold out hope that one day a young singer will come onto the scene with the bravery and vision to do an album where all of the vocals are just whining and crying noises. That'll be something.
Shrapnel's Combat Love was one of the greatest singles of 1979.
I saw them a couple of times in 1980, and at one of the shows, at the Longhorn in Minneapolis, Wyndorf (the singer, who went on to form Monster Magnet) wasn't satisfied with the audience reaction so he jumped off the stage and dragged the tables up to the edge of the stage, spilling everything that was on them in the process.
He only had to do that twice, because when everyone at the other tables saw the drinks flying they carefully moved their own tables up to the stage. It was a charming and effective bit of stagecraft.
Hearing the long version of that song (there's a verse in there that wasn't on the album version) reminds me of how amazing it was to hear things like that pre-internet. You had to find them on Jamaican pressings of records or, like this song, on a tape someone at a record company made that was copied 20 times before it got to you. Or on a radio show like Roger Steffens and Hank Holmes Reggae Beat every Sunday afternoon on KCRW in Los Angeles.
There's a 12" version of Keep on Moving that Bob recorded when he was in England for a year after being shot in Jamaica, and it breaks down to just drums and vocal in the middle, and Bob sings, "Tell Ziggy I'm fine..." like a letter home to Jamaica from an exiled father. I got chills when I heard it for the first time. It still gives me chills, probably because of that first listen. But I don't know if it would have the same effect if it was just another link I clicked on to hear it.
They were hard-won discoveries, the rare and unreleased things, and they felt a little more important and incredible than they do now, with "deluxe version" CDs and the bottomless well of the internet. It's not worse now, obviously, it's better to have everything available to be heard. But it does make me understand a bit why the younger generations might not value music the same way we did in prehistoric times.
Speaking of Bob in England and apropos of nothing, I've always wondered if Bob Marley ever crossed paths with Jimi Hendrix in any way. Why I'm wondering about that I'm not sure, music and everything is completely different of course but somehow they seem to come from a similar universal spirit or whatever.
Internet says no, though. I guess it could have been conceivable from 1968-71, I read that Bob was occasionally (?) in London at that time to work on Wailers songs. But then at that time he was not the Bob Marley we know today and Hendrix was already at the peak of his stardom. And when Bob reached his peak, Hendrix was dead. So I guess they never did cross paths.
I just wonder if they ever knew of the others music and what they thought of it.
They didn't meet, but all the Jamaican musicians knew who Hendrix was, and they all paid close attention to American music. Ska and reggae were their versions of American soul music, after all.
Kind of funny story though - Al Anderson was the first American to play guitar in the Wailers band, and Bob was excited to get him because he was under the impression that Al had played with Hendrix. Someone had told Bob that Al could play like Hendrix, not quite the same thing.
They appreciated that American/British style of hard rock lead guitar playing, but it didn't really have any place in reggae. All those guitar hero lead guitar solos you hear on the later live records were there to appease white college kids and foreign audiences. You never heard those kind of long, distorted tweedeetweedeetweedee solos on the studio records.
In 1973 the original wailers, with Peter and Bunny, did a tour in the U.S. opening for Sly and the Family Stone. Sly didn't exactly jive with the Wailers and they were kicked off the tour and abandoned in a motel somewhere halfway through.
They may have been kicked off the Sly tour, but later they didn't have any problem going toe to toe with huge American groups. As this 1980 New York Times review points out. (The paragraph about Kurtis Blow at the end is funny with "rapper" in quotes and the observation that this rap stuff is becoming popular.)