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Monday, February 27, 2017

Barbara Lewis: Baby I'm Yours


1) Baby, I'm Yours; 2) My Heart Went Do Da Dat; 3) Come Home; 4) Think A Little Sugar; 5) If You Love Her; 6) Stop That Girl; 7) Puppy Love; 8) Hello Stranger; 9) Someday We're Gonna Love Again; 10) Snap Your Fingers; 11) How Can I Say Goodbye; 12) Straighten Up Your Heart.

Today, this looks like a textbook rip-off if there ever was one: six new songs, chaotically mixed with six older songs that had already been released both as singles and as part of the Hello Stranger and Snap Your Fingers LPs. But back in 1965, this probably looked like a reasonable marketing solution, well acceptable for both the artist and the customer. As Barbara's career had pretty much stalled by 1963, and then got jump-started again with the smash success of ʽBaby I'm Yoursʼ in early 1965, the managers of Atlantic probably decided to «reboot» her, reasonably thinking that nobody would remember those early songs in the first place, and that most of the people who might want to buy the LP based on the power of the single had never bought the first two LPs — or, if they did, had already forgotten about them.

What's a retro-reviewer got to do, though? There's only six new songs here to take care of, none of them written by the artist herself, and probably only two deserving special attention. The title track is, of course, an Atlantic classic, another lush ballad written by Van McCoy especially for Barbara and distinguishable for its non-standard hook, where the first three lines, smoothly and tenderly spiralling upwards, are then suddenly (but gently) brought down to earth with a deeper "in other words..." counterpoint. Like ʽHello Strangerʼ, it is more of a traditional pop ballad than a real R&B groove, and Barbara is probably sounding even «whiter» here than on ʽHello Stran­gerʼ, but that should not detract from the intrinsic qualities of the song. Unfortunately, none of the other ballads here match that hook — ʽIf You Love Herʼ and ʽHow Can I Say Goodbyeʼ are pleasant Roy Orbison imitations that would need a real Roy Orbison to make them come to life: Barbara's vocal parts are too fragile and quiet to make the transition from soothing background to rousing foreground.

A second, more minor, classic is ʽSomeday We're Gonna Love Againʼ, from the pen of Sharon McMahan — the song was originally released as a B-side on one of Barbara's singles from 1964 and had already been covered by the Searchers as well, but in this case, I'll definitely take Barbara's version over the Searchers: Atlantic rewards her with a tougher, tighter rhythm section, good support from background vocalists and brass players, and the tension is seemingly higher here than on the Searchers' relatively frail version. Basically, with Lewis it's an uplifting anthem (she sings "someday we're gonna love again" like she really means it), with the Searchers it's a bit of an uncertain mush.

That's about it, though: even Jackie DeShannon's ʽStop That Girlʼ sounds like generic movie fodder from circa 1964-65, though by no means unpleasant. Overall, there's just nothing to dis­cuss, as the entire album could be represented in terms of a single single, with ʽBaby I'm Yoursʼ as the A-side and ʽSomeday We're Gonna Love Againʼ as the B-side. But no representative collection of mid-Sixties pop music could do without either.

1 comment:

  1. I don't like the production for Baby I'm Yours, it is so cluttered that it is hard to concentrate on the melody.