Monday, 22 July 2013

And now for something completely different... Baby Dee

Baby DeeNow... I know some here will be quite tired of reading my musings about Heavy Metal, some will be tired of reading my musings full stop. Well fuck you then.

But to alleviate my own tiredness of my musings, I thought I'd write about a rather unique musician called Baby Dee. Baby Dee has not really been in the music business that long, but has a very very varied career of all sorts. In the 70's she was an organist in a Catholic Church in the Bronx, from there she went onto being a hermaphrodite accordion player as part of a circus act, then she played a harp around Manhattan on a tricycle. I believe she now works as a tree surgeon in Cleveland, along side touring the world and releasing albums. She has played with some great names in the past, including Antony & The Johnsons and David Tibet from Current 93.

I first came across Baby Dee when she played at the Yorkshire House in Lancaster, as part of a night organized by Little Argument With Myself. The only other act I remember playing that night was a guy called Martin Chitty.

The first album I bought by her was Safe Inside The Day(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s-94S63HfA). Which was a very much a band effort, playing songs written by Baby Dee. With names that people might recognise, like Andrew WK, Will Oldham and Bonnie "Prince" Billy. The songs are very heartfelt and with some great stories attached to them. There is hint of rock, baroque, folk and cabaret. It sounds very obvious that Baby Dee is enjoying the opportunity to work as part of a band, but she is definitely the star of this show. I would like to say that there isn't one highlight, because all the songs are great.  The whole album goes from jazzy-swing scary-fun filled extravaganza as in "Teeth Are The Only Bones That Show" to sombre and serious instrumentals of "Flowers On The Tracks"(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgULChIgG4M) onto tongue in cheek crazy of "Big Titty Bee Girl (From Dino Town)"(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnk3Jhyh8nc) to what sounds like a Russian drunken debauchery in "Bad Kidneys".  And of course the albums ends with sounds from robins tweeting.

It's a shame that this album isn't on Spotify, but I do recommend it if you do get your hand on it. 

The second album I bought by her was "A Book of Songs for Anne Marie" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzZCkyMbGbU), which is a minimalist album that's produced by Antony & The Johnsons alumni Maxim Moston. It's on here where you can really feel your heartstrings being pulled and played with, like a harp. Here she sounds like a mother torn with grief and is singing for her child that, well I'm not to sure, either passed away or in a coma, and she doing what she can to make the memory of her child happy. There are moments when you feel like you've intruded into Baby Dee's personal space, while she's playing in a room in front a photo of her child.

When listening to her albums, you can hear that she is a master of the instruments that she plays on, namely the Harp, Piano and Accordion, she knows how to use all those instruments to their greatest effect. She also comes from the Tom Waits school of Singing. She doesn't have a particularly beautiful singing voice, it's gravelly, out of tune and all over the place, but the way she uses it to squeeze out every emotion she can, and she does it well. You can also visualise her face when she is singing, whether she's smiling or nearly crying.

Baby Dee has earned the distinction where I buy her albums pretty much as soon as they come out.

So far I have been privileged to see her playing live twice, and I can't wait for the time when I can see her again. So I'll let her finish this blog off.

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