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Apr 13

BABY D – “Let Me Be Your Fantasy”

Popular70 comments • 4,469 views

#713, 26th November 1994

baby d After a run of mostly charmless number ones, it’s easy to rate this record: its vigour; its momentum; its status as a memento of good times people were having not as a marker in an album sales plan; its simple reminder that away from the charts the story of rave was still playing joyfully out. “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” was two years old – something people were sniffy about at the time – but history has a habit of squeezing such gaps. It now seems to have the stuff of life about it in a way little else in the 1994 list does.

Baby D were one of several groups on hardcore label Production House, which like many labels conjured new acts as whim and contingency required: its in-house producers would branch off, team up, hook up with vocalists, and lo, a band was born. Floyd Dyce – great name! – the writer and producer for Baby D, has a tremendous resume, with writing credits on close to a hundred tracks, including early-90s wonders like Acen’s “Trip II The Moon” and the House Crew’s “Euphoria (Nino’s Dream)”, songs that bumped around at the lower end of the charts selling a ton in all the wrong shops.

If you know those tracks, you’ll know the broad Production House outlook – uplifting, always ready to drop in a big hook, keeping the rushy spirit of UK house alive. “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” is in the same tradition, but more carefully streamlined and chart-ready. Old it may have been, but it’s also a fantastic bridge between the breakbeat-driven rave hits of 1992 and the hands-in-air, heart-on-sleeve pop house of mid-decade. Its breakbeat undercarriage gives “Let Me Be” a rough, robust chunkiness which plays well off Baby D’s powerful vocals. What she’s singing is the usual mash of ravey trigger phrases – feel the energy, I’ll take you up, fly away – sewn together with enough conviction that it feels like a song not a collage.

Like a lot of dance producers, Dyce seems a restless, tinkering sort, and he’s re-released this track repeatedly since 1994 – when it was already a hydra of versions and mixes. But then he had a strong core to build around. I wish there had been more hardcore and rave songs at number one, but if this record has to stand in for most of its genre it can do the job with pride.

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Comments

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  1. 51
    punctum on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Wonder how they would have felt about The Division Bell topping the album chart in 1994?

  2. 52
    Cumbrian on 30 Apr 2013 #

    The Division Bell got to #1? I try not to spoil TPL for myself and avoid looking ahead, so this came as a surprise to me. I’d have thought that 1994/5/6 would have been one long procession of one week wonder Britpop acts, interspersed with Simply Red. Obviously, as with much else, I know not very much about this particular subject.

  3. 53
    punctum on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Reading Rosie’s post got me thinking about the album, and its relation to the rest of what was going on in its year. Given that I’m probably about 19 years away from writing about it, it’s hopefully not too much of a spoiler.

  4. 54
    enitharmon on 30 Apr 2013 #

    I think they’d have thought that Floyd had gone to hell in a handcart years previously. See also the last Popular entry of the 1970s.

  5. 55
    Cumbrian on 30 Apr 2013 #

    #53: Truth be told, I’ll probably forget this fact sometime in the not too distant future and will be surprised all over again when you get there.

  6. 56
    thefatgit on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Something else that was emerging around this time, which highlighted the joy/menace tension quite effectively was Hardbag, a subgenre which didn’t last long but helped to popularise what was going on at Trade @Turnmills and gave Tony De Vit his first club hit. We also have Felix (aka Rollo) to thank for it happening at all with “Don’t You Want Me” back in 1992.

  7. 57
    Brendan F on 30 Apr 2013 #

    … and speaking of Rollo, those doomy chords in the intro to ‘Insomnia’ which culminates with the euphoric riff after the rap (presumably the dance world has a different term for it which I’m not au fait with)

  8. 58
    Mark G on 30 Apr 2013 #

    #51-55 or thereabouts: Yeah, I remember seeing that album chart and going “Really?”, in the same way I did when David Gilmour’s “On an Island” did. But then again, I do tend to work with a higher percentage than most people that would have bought both…

  9. 59
    glue_factory on 1 May 2013 #

    …speaking of Trade (re:56) Turnmills was where the Heavenly Social would eventually end up, several years after Wichita had been dancing at the Albany (re:32). It was always a rather odd experience staggering out of the Social at 3:30am, at the end of your evening, to see a fresh-faced queue of clubbers waiting to go into Trade, at the beginning of theirs.

  10. 60
    flahr on 1 May 2013 #

    Re #48 I also don’t like the title line – it feels odd (and verbally cluttered/weak) to ask permission to be a fantasy as opposed to asserting you’ll be one or offering to be one. But maybe the latter is all that’s heard.

    As I’ve mentioned I don’t actually like the song, but the title is great! I think your problem with it is that you view it as a request when I don’t think it is – it’s an imperative, the “let me” is functioning as “surrender yourself, relax, let me do all the work”. I think it’s a very opulent title and one that fits the wash and wave and submerging euphoric helplessness that rave is (I think) going for.

  11. 61
    Auntie Beryl on 1 May 2013 #

    If you’ll indulge me a little, Monday 28th November 1994 was the day after it was announced that this record had gone to number one.

    It was also the day I started work at the one-off record shop (RIP) in my home town, where I would stay until the end of 2001. On & off (mostly on) I’ve malingered somewhere near music retail ever since.

    I won’t have a huge amount to say about every number one over the next few Popular years, but hope I can share a perspective from behind the counter every now and then.

  12. 62
    Ben Cook on 2 May 2013 #

    The first single I ever bought. OK, joint first single. I bought Boyzone’s Love Me For A Reason at the same time, with a £5 Our Price voucher. That kind of ruins it doesn’t it?

  13. 63
    Ed on 3 May 2013 #

    @46: “And if we take one era-step pre-disco, into the related (dance music) worlds of George Clinton and Mr James Brown, we find a HUGE amount of paranoia, fear, terror and menace.”

    And back before them too. You Keep Me Hanging On, Paint it Black, Ball of Confusion: all stir up that oxymoronic melancholy euphoria.

    (Which is an excuse for me to wheel out, with apologies, my favourite bit of literary pedantry, which I learned only recently: a true oxymoron is not just a contradiction in terms, but a reconciliation of opposites to express a new idea. So “bittersweet” is one, as is “the living dead”, and that great French expression “jolie laide”. But there are not that many. The old jokes about “military intelligence and “business ethics” don’t really count.)

  14. 64
    Paulito on 4 May 2013 #

    Hmmm, I’m in two minds about this one. The housey keyboards already sounded dated by the time the track finally became a smash, and that robotic bit towards the end really jars. Overall, it’s pleasant enough – with a decent melody and a nice yearning quality to the vocal – but not particularly unforgettable and certainly not genre-defining.

    By contrast, and as alluded to already, the contemporaneous “Set You Free” is a true touchstone of radio-friendly rave and really does have the attributes discussed upthread – simultaneously uplifting and melancholic (a tone set by the spine-tingling piano intro), hugely energetic and insanely catchy. Above all, 20-odd years later it not only still sounds great on its own terms but has also taken on an elegiac quality – at once an anthem and a swansong for the era. A real shame it didn’t quite make it to the top, as I’d love to have seen a Popular entry and thread on it (I’ll just have to wait for Lena to catch up…)

  15. 65
    ciaran on 14 May 2013 #

    LMBYF has never impressed me much at all I’m afraid. Then I was too young for the club scene back then unlike some of the other commentators here that seem to cherish it.Mid 90s club classics has never been my favourite genre so its maybe one further reason this leaves me cold.

    It always seemed more like a lower top 10 hit than anything but moat of the other number 1s of 1994 came out of nowhere too.

    The first single I ever bought was I need your lovin on a school tour.neither proud nor ashamed of it today but cant really remember too much about it without the aid of spotify or youtube.The Korgis original was played in Ireland for some time as part of road safety adverts in the early to mid 00s so have become very familiar with that.much better version too.

  16. 66
    Erithian on 4 Jun 2013 #

    Not my scene, man, and not aimed at the likes of me at all, but I do have a sneaky liking for this. Tom nails it with the line about the ravey phrases sounding like a song and not a collage due to Dorothy Fearon’s conviction (yes, fine voice and great delivery) and I can really hear why early-90s clubbers would find this among the most life-affirming things to hit the dancefloor to. No doubt too “pop” for some but a good ambassador for its genre.

  17. 67
    Patrick Mexico on 4 Aug 2013 #

    Re 56: Right on! Why don’t more people discuss Hardbag? Some of the best dance music of the decade came out of this “niche” genre – i.e. Felix “Don’t You Want Me”, which some people still talk about, and (from Toronto) Blast – Crazy Man, which people seem to have forgotten, which is a shame, because it’s an absolute belter.

    http://www.discogs.com/Various-Now-Dance-Summer-94/release/666712
    The Tony Di Bart – Magic Affair sequence on this (incorporating Blast), had it been a “proper” Now! CD, would be a strong contender for the best run of tracks on the entire series. The cover says it all. Baroque brilliance. And then they go and spoil it all by picking something stupid like Level 42..

  18. 68
    Izzy on 4 Aug 2013 #

    The Fire Island track before Level 42 on that compilation – I had a beautiful Junior Boys’ Own comp which closed with that and could never understand how it hadn’t been a massive smash, or indeed how I’d never even heard it on the radio or seen it in a shop or anything.

    And then I only recently discovered it was a cover of a classic disco banger by Machine, which even though it had been a massive smash I’ve never heard on the radio or seen discussed or anything either. A bewildering blind spot for what are two almighty records.

  19. 69
    Ed on 4 Aug 2013 #

    Yes! Not heard the cover, but the Machine original of TBFTGOGGI is fantastic. Co-written by August Darnell, before he was Kid Creole or had any Coconuts, and better than anything he did in his later incarnation, IMO. You can find it on the reissue of the first Kid Creole album, among other places.

    Described here as “the greatest disco song ever”, which is probably overdoing it, but a forgivable mistake:
    http://www.zerecords.com/new/album_liner_notes.php?id=411&categoria=album

    Blog post here suggests the Fire Island version was greatly inferior:
    http://discodissertation.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/here-but-for-grace-of-god-go-i.html

    More great stuff from Chuck Eddy on Darnell, Ze Records and Mutant Disco here: http://www.spin.com/articles/essentials-of-ze-records/

  20. 70
    Izzy on 4 Aug 2013 #

    It’s got as good a claim as any to greatest-ever status I reckon – I’m no head, but I’d certainly have in my top five if I were compiling a list.

    The Fire Island version isn’t as good, no – it’s smoother and iirc updates to a four-to-the-floor beat, but it waters down the message and the singer’s campy style is distracting. I do rate it, but if you’ve heard the original first you need dig no further.

    Ironically, in criticising the cover for pulling lyrical punches, that blog itself misses the point a little – the parents aren’t motivated by simple bigotry, they’re upwardly-mobile hispanic immigrants. The ‘no blacks, no jews and no gays’ line is them leaving street life behind. Whether that’s qualitatively different is another question, but it’s certainly a more complicated picture.

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