Saturday, July 01, 2006

Change of Pace

For the most part, I really do understand why the songs I've posted here are "obscure". My tastes are hardly in the mainstream, although that's clearly to the mainstream's detriment.

But then there are other songs I come across, songs which were perhaps even promoted as possible hits, on real, healthy and even giant labels, but which failed anyway. Case in point, today's next upload, "Barefoot and Pregnant" by Joan Armatrading.

Now I know she's never had a hit, but both Phoebe Snow and Tracy Chapman have had major hits which sounded like they could have been right off of a Joan Armatrading album. And not to take away from either of those other singers, both of whom I enjoy, to my ears, Joan is the superior singer and writer. I came across this promo single in a huge batch of records I bought one day about 17 years ago, and on the strength of this song, I've subsequently bought everything Armatrading has released. This song remains my favorite, but I've not been disappointed.

Where to start....

I guess with the driving rhythm, pushed forward at times by the acoustic gutiar, or by the percussive nature of certain vocal sections, but mostly by the fantastic drumming. I don't know who's playing the drums, and drums are not something that usually catch my attention. Here, on the other hand, I've replayed sections of the record at times, just to hear one of the fills.

As a folkie, I'm really taken with the acoustic guitar interplay on this record as well, and the occasional touches of classic three part harmony. The electric piano is a nice touch, too. But tying it all together, and pushing it from an interesting arrangement into a great all-around record are the masterful lyrics and the equally classic lead vocal. There's an entire story of a relationship here, in just over 3 1/2 minutes.

It's probably too fussy and intellectual of a recording to have been a hit, but it came out when records like "Poetry Man" and "Midnight at the Oasis" were hits, so it certainly could have caught on somewhere. But it didn't. What a shame.

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