Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Free Pass #1: Bobby Caldwell

Being a certifiable record-nerd there are many occasions when I sit, stand, smoke around with like-minded individuals. One of the more frequent sessions takes place on the back porch area of my all-time favorite bar in Brooklyn, or anywhere for that matter, Black Betty, where the night's DJ and I can shoot the shit, talk about records for from the din of the sound system. The other night i was back there with DJ Greg Caz of Brazilian Beat Brooklyn fame and I don't know how we got to talking about this, but what I remember is this concept of "Free Pass" - all credit to Greg for this idea. Basically, the "Free Pass" means that an otherwise fair-skinned singer/musician gets respect from Black fans as if this individual were actually Black themselves. The names thrown out that night were Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald, Michael Franks and even Kenny Loggins. This is not say that these artists' entire body of work is exempted from ridicule by the R&B crowd, but maybe for a few songs or an album, they get a "Free Pass."

I already discussed one such artist in the early days of Soul Spectrum, when I profiled Heatwave leading man and Quincy Jones prodigy, Rod Temperton. I like the "Free Pass" concept and I'm gonna make an amendment and allow some artists to only receive a "Day Pass", while others get more leeway with with a "Free Pass."

Today we're gonna start with Bobby Caldwell, who's a classic example of a "Free Pass", though he might only qualify for the "Day Pass" . . . I'm still figuring this guy out and he may indeed have more to offer than this sublime tune off of his debut album, released in 1978 on the T.K. subsidiary, Clouds label. Word just in . . . evidently he's got another gem on his second album, Cat in the Hat, called "Open Your Eyes." I'll have to track it down and post it here soon to see if Bobby gets more than a "Day Pass" . . . until then the jury is out.

Bobby Caldwell - What You Won't Do For Love
This track is just a perfect slice of smooth soul and stands up on its own in addition to its credentials in the sample-game: Aaliyah, Guru, Kool G Rap, Master P and Tupac. Most white R&B singers reveal their true melatonin deficiency in their vocal delivery in very subtle ways, but Bobby is an exception to the rule along with Michael McDonald and maybe Darryl Hall, but we'll get to these guys later . . .

1 comment:

mightyme said...

Bobby Caldwell may be the first genuine blue eyed soul artist I've heard. I used to think Michael MacDonald was as good as blue eyed soul gets, but Bobby is even better--way better even. He really can "pass" vocally. He has plenty of soulful songs, but my favorite is "Open Your Eyes." You know you got it when your music is sampled by rappers, and Bobby's songs have been sampled quite a bit.