Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vinyl Vacation: "Talking About My Baby" - The Impressions

Yes, this is exactly what it looks like.

Now's right about the time when you mutter to yourself, "as if the whole 'indie music blog' thing weren't bad enough, now he's upping his pretentiousness game with some paen to vinyl?"

And to you, fair reader, I can only answer honestly, "Yes, yes! A thousand times, yes!" Well, at least those three times.

Maybe it's my freakishly completist nature run amok but I have recently come close to burning out on music. The seemingly upstanding desire to stay informed can, when combined with the seemingly beneficial creation of a vehicle for delivering near-infinite music day or night, become a cruel curse.

I have to just admit it - there's always going to be more good music out there than I can listen to. By an increasingly widening margin. This fact may be a mixed bag in terms of how we consume music but it seems immutable, at least until we're bombarded by Chinese EMPs or something. My reasons for not turning to vinyl (the cost, the pretentiousness, the bulkiness, the COST) were utlimately outweighed by the fact that I knew it would help me slow down and narrow my musical focus. Let's just say that after many years of resistance, I was finally forced to concede a point to my high school economics teacher, the limited nature of physical product has not only increased its value to me, but been a sanity-inducing limit I so desperately need.

Therefore, after a long struggle I finally gave in, bought a garage sale stereo, asked for a turntable for Christmas and myself the hip new bourgeois fetishist collectible. The Vinyl Vacation feature here at On Warmer Music will be my outlet for sharing the fruits of my stroll down the garden path of outdated musical technology, tempting you with the, if not forbidden, then at least forbidding fruits of 45's and 33 1/3's.

My first installment will feature a single I picked up for a measly buck at that lovely slice of Lincoln Square that is Laurie's Planet of Sound (and do yourself and favor while your there and stop into sublime chaos that is Ravenswood Used Books across the street if you're ever there). For those hundred pennies I picked up one of the many fabulous hits by Chicago's very own Impressions that, in any sane, non-Clear Channel world would be garnering spins on classic rock stations that instead are devoting themselves to beating any last vestiges of life out of the tattered remains of "Satisfaction" or "Brown-Eyed Girl".

The Impressions are one of those few bands that can be both unerringly catchy and wonderfully laid-back at the same time. Simultaneously channeling the effortless mastery of Motown's Funk Brothers and Beach Music's relaxed joie de vivre, "Talking About My Baby"'s opening guitar line is one of those musical phrases that, once implanted into your consciousness, will remain a welcome guest for the rest of your life. The easy horns that come in the second time around seal the deal before Curtis Mayfield even has to utter a word.

"Talking About My Baby" is one of those great soul songs whose simplicity is a large part of its genius. It's a love song, pure and simple. It expresses the kind of unguarded emotion that used to be pop music's stock and trade but has fallen out of fashion. But even as times have changed and earnesty has given way to irony, there are certain expressions of feeling that cannot be denied. Anyone whose been in love (or just thought they were at the time) knows exactly that feeling you get when the other person walks into the room and this is that feeling made aural. That is what soul is all about and that's what Curtis and his band bring here for two and a half glorious minutes. The few pops and hisses on the 45 only serve to reinforce the timeless quality of the sentiment just laid down.

Almost as if reading my mind, and doubling down on my previous assertion, the Impressions (or, more likely, the good folks at ABC-Paramount Records) chose to include "Too Much Love" as a b-side. It's a song that fits snugly among "The Word" and "What's So Funny About Peace, Love And Understanding?" as unabashed defenses of "love" in the most mid-sixties possible sort of way. I choose those two songs as reference points because, while both are a simplistic and perhaps a little gooey, they also hold their own as musical pieces. "Too Much Love" borrows heavily from Sam Cooke's playbook but with such insouciance as to be charming rather than offensive. At 2:20, there's no time for it to out stay its welcome and, like its stronger A-Side, it fades out leaving nothing but a sweet taste in your mouth. Its the kind of song that would blend into the background on CD compilation but shines as a stand-alone B-Side.

Download/Listen: Talking About My Baby - The Impressions  Buy Complete A- and B-Sides 1961-1968


  1. Great, little post, honest, fun, and true.

  2. Thanks, I try to get at least a little of those into each post, nice to see that it comes through :)

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