Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FEATURED ARTIST/RECORD: "Angel Baby" by Rosie & The Originals

After mentioning this song in my previous post, I decided to put the spotlight on this classic oldie, and the artist who sang it for us. "Angel Baby" may have been a one-hit-wonder, but it nevertheless put Rosie in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (she was the first Latina to have that honor) and left a little winged tattoo on the hearts of a lot of baby boomers, judging by the comments on various websites I've seen. The
"Readers Digest" condensed story goes like this: Coming from a musical family, Rosie had been performing since the tender age of 13 (back in the late 50s) when she lied about her age, dipped into her mom's makeup, and got herself a gig (when she was supposed to be babysitting) singing with some musicians. Later they went on to become Rosie and The Originals. Rosie wrote the lyrics to "Angel Baby" as a poem to a boy she was crushing on when she was a mere 14. Not long after that, Rosie and the group recorded "Angel Baby" in an old airplane hanger that happened to have some recording equipment in the corner (don't they all?). There they were: Rosie (check) the piano (check) guitar (check) drums (check) bass (check) and sax (ch...wait...where's Alfred??). Well, it seems that young Alfred's very strict mom wouldn't let him go until he finished his chores. But everybody else was there and all set to go. So, the guitarist just happened to know a teensy bit of sax (don't they all?) and gave a quick crash course to the bass player, and told him it was up to him to save the day. Gee, I wonder if he felt any pressure... Anyway, the resulting efforts on everyone's part sent "Angel Baby" to #5 in 1960. Recently I came across a quote from Rosie where she admitted that the sax playing wasn't the best in the world, and it really stunned me. I mean, that solo has always been one of my favorite musical moments ever. To me it would be like stumbling upon an old quote from Leonardo, saying "Oh that dumb Mona Lisa; I never did like the way that painting turned out!" Okay, maybe even to me (who is not, by any stretch of the imagination, musical) the sax did sound a bit wonky in places, but isn't that the complete and utter charm of it? I mean, wouldn't fancy studio production have taken away it's most endearing qualities? Personally, I love the whole heartfelt thing just the way it is. And, in case you didn't already know this, John Lennon agreed. He even recorded a cover of "Angel Baby" back in 1973, although I have to admit that, much as I like John Lennon, and really wanted to like his cover of "Angel Baby, " it just didn't do it for me. One other place you can find a cover is in a cameo by Jeanette Jurado, playing Rosie, in the 1996 movie "Mi Familia," and Rosie re-did the song herself with some nice Spanish lyrics, too. So there you have it - a salute to a great song, a terrific singer, and one very fearless sax player.


Quiet Paths said...

What a very fun (humorous) and once again, educational read! These are songs I've never heard of and thanks to your You Tube links I get to actually hear them. And you are right, who could replicate the airplane hanger effect using AutoTune? That cracked me up!

Deborah said...

Thanks Quiet Paths - glad you're enjoying!