The end of another week is upon us and I thought I’d lay something a little Wall-of-Sound-y on your ears to get them ready for the weekend.
Though I’ve known of The Cake for years, I had no idea what they sounded like. Their albums were a staple of ‘digging’ reports over at Soulstrut, and while I was intrigued I never encountered any of their vinyl in the field.
At one point a few years ago, I did a little research and picked up a CD reissue that contained both of their albums.
Upon first listen I wasn’t sure what to think. Taken as a whole I found their sound to be a tiny bit schizophrenic, dipping into pop, folk rock, lite soul and Wall of Sound girlgroupisms, often side by side.
That said, when I had time to digest the disc fully, there were definitely things I dug.
A few months ago I was out digging and finally managed to find one of their 45s, and as luck would have it, it was one of the songs I liked.
The Cake were formed in 1966 in New York by Chelsea Lee, Jeanette Jacobs and Barbara Morillo. They were discovered by Charlie Green and Brian Stone (managers of both Sonny & Cher and the Buffalo Springfield) and spirited away to Los Angeles.
When they recorded their first LP that had the good fortune to have the assistance of both arranger Harold Battiste and producer (and Phil Spector acolyte) Jack Nitzsche.
The tune I bring you today – ‘Baby That’s Me’ – hails from the first album and is one of the aforementioned Wall of Sound-ish songs. Co-written by Nitzsche and Jackie Deshannon, the tune is awash (almost ridiculously so) in reverb, and features the Cake’s mid-60s, somewhat less soulful take on the Ronettes vibe. On first listen the initial impulse is to slap on the headphones, but I assure you that ‘Baby That’s Me’ is best approached from a distance. Like the best of Spector’s original productions (and those of his imitators) the sonic bombast is best processed via a car radio speaker, and would be overwhelming at close quarters.
The temptation is to get deep inside the mix to pick it apart, but the truth of the matter is that you wouldn’t tear apart an actual cake to look for the eggs and sugar, and you would be doing a similar disservice to this record. It’s supposed to be heard as a blended whole. It’s like of you sat down with ‘Pet Sounds’ (as I often had) and started digging into the ingredients, and the end result is that something is lost. Sure you get to hear chromatic harmonica, tack piano and police sirens, but at that point you are literally missing the forest for the trees.
That said, you go ahead and pull down the ones and zeros and listen to it however you like.
I’ll be back on Monday with something cool.