28
Apr 13

BABY D – “Let Me Be Your Fantasy”

Popular70 comments • 6,103 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.

8

Comments

1 2 3 All
  1. 1
    MBI on 29 Apr 2013 #

    This is pretty nice, and I emphatically agree that the 1994 list overall is really quite bad.

    I also notice that with the exception of Mariah and The Artist Then Not Known As Prince, none of the ’94 list got any play whatsoever in America. Quite a British list, I’ve barely recognized a single artist that’s shown up so far.

  2. 2
    Auntie Beryl on 29 Apr 2013 #

    There’s a huge streak of melancholy running through Let Me Be Your Fantasy.

    The piano breaks, when separated from the accompanying frantic drum pattern, suggest a very downbeat mood – this is made explicit towards the end of the track when the percussion is briefly removed.

    It’s a similar trick to that pulled off in Liquid’s Sweet Harmony in that regard. Those with any musical training should be able to help with this, is it a contrast between major and minor chords?

    Then we have the vocals. On the page, a succession of rave-era exhortations they may be, but to my ears there is a pleading desperation to the delivery, a suggestion that deep down she knows he isn’t interested. He may not even know she exists. That final “I’ll take you higher” is almost resigned…

    One of the strongest number ones of the decade. A 9.

  3. 3
    hardtogethits on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Straight in at 3, but it had nothing to say.

  4. 4
    punctum on 29 Apr 2013 #

    “Underground is where we want to go moving/How’s the crowd?”

    It is one of the greatest couplets in all of pop, and sums up more or less every adventure which has been pushed or enticed its way since the Beatles – there is little doubt that the above was what they were thinking as they put Revolver or Pepper together – and its robotic intrusion into the peaceful yearning of “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” at 3:09 indicates another of those points where music changes. It didn’t do so alone, of course; the move from rave via happy hardcore to jungle also has to take into account things like Lennie De Ice’s “We Are E,” Foul Play’s “Open Your Mind,” 4hero’s “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare” and in particular the work of Shut Up And Dance – but for Marc Cohn’s lawyers they would have had one of the greatest of all number ones with 1992’s “Raving, I’m Raving” (it peaked at number two before compulsorily being withdrawn from circulation) – and Nicolette’s Now Is Early album, also from 1992, still stands as a largely unheralded harbinger of what would happen in the rest of its decade.

    “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” also dates from 1992, and had been an underground club classic (and at the lower end of the Top 200 singles chart) for over two years before given the promotional push. Belatedly topping the chart, it precluded the Stone Roses from doing so with “Love Spreads,” and that seemed unusually fitting, since the record stands at the crossroads of several different ambiguities of music. Essentially a comedown record from the final days of primary-coloured rave, its beat is Prodigy frantic but its flow is aqueous and unhurried. Over this backdrop singer Dorothy Fearon sings of the usual rave tropes – “I’ll take you up to the highest heights,” “Spread our wings and fly away,” “I’ll fill your world with ecstasy” – with a voice of rare nobility; note her graceful Queen’s English voiceover (“Let me touch your dreams”) after the first verse. It all seems indicative of an urge to slow down, take some deep breaths and inhale eternity.

    But then the “underground” unexpectedly asserts itself and we dive into a dizzy cannonball run of beats, unlovely fuzz bass grinds and hisses, mirrored halls of warps and loops – the sequence is one of those moments of recorded evolution, where rave gives way to what will become jungle, then drum ‘n’ bass. After this disturbance, which lasts for no more than thirty seconds, the original song returns, but the landscape has been less than subtly altered. And yet those “let me be” backing vocals at the end hark back to another era; Dorothy Fearon is the wife of Phil Fearon, the somersaulting man behind Galaxy, who recorded some very astute hits in the very late days of Britfunk, in the mid-eighties (“Dancing Tight,” “What Do I Do?,” “Everybody’s Laughing” amongst others), and the owner of the Little Dragon label on which “Let Me Be Your Fantasy” was released, and so this remarkable record ends up joining all of the dots, showing us where it has come from and where it, and black British music, was going. This time, the crowd was happy to go along as well.

  5. 5
    Tom on 29 Apr 2013 #

    For the first time (amazing that it is the first) I’ve saved a draft before going to bed and published it by mistake! At least it was almost, not half, finished. The score and gist are fine – might revise, though Aunty Beryl and Punctum have covered all the missing points.

  6. 6
    James BC on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #2. Popjustice calls that feeling a “Kylie moment”.

  7. 7
    fivelongdays on 29 Apr 2013 #

    OK, I’ve got to disrupt the love-in on this one. This, IMHO, is the sort of thing that gives dance music a bad name. A mesh of professional dance tropes (plinky keyboards! beaty beats! inane lyrics!) that wafts on for about two minutes longer than it really ought to. OK, there’s a rather nice – and unexpected – breakdown towards the end, but by that point, this listener has decided that, frankly, he’s going to turn down Ms D’s offer.

    Aural wallpaper, not-so-cunningly disguised as something that’s meant to be a banging dance anthem.

    Oh, and it kept the Stone Roses’ corking, LedZep-meets-a-bloke-who-really-can’t-sing-but-doesn’t-give-a-toss ‘Love Spreads’ off the top spot.

    As I’ve said before, this is around the time period where I come in. A lot of the number ones will get higher marks – Tom’s adolescent mark inflation is the truth – and I’m willing to give the songs I don’t like a second chance. This, however, is really rather dull.

    Four, and that’s pretty much for the weird, wobbly, not-totally-unwonderful breakdown.

  8. 8
    anto on 29 Apr 2013 #

    The best number one of 1994, no contest (and for that matter no competition). Sexy, supple and arrestingly modern – a chilled glass of lemonade after a trek through a desert where a mirage of Marti Pellow kept appearing to sing at you.

  9. 9
    hectorthebat on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Sample watch – contains samples of “all we wanna do is dance” by the house crew featuring mc juice and “amen, brother” by the winstons. First use of the amen break in popular?

  10. 10
    Tom on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #7 Keeping “Love Spreads” off No.1 is a feature not a bug!

    (OK, I’d have quite liked to write about it, I guess)

  11. 11
    flahr on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Oh dear. I find this totally devoid of charm – even the left turn into roboticism at the end seems like an attempt to make the song go on longer after having run out of ideas. I had relatively high hopes (it’s a cracking title) but this isn’t even as good as “Saturday Night”.

    Thank fuck we have Daft Punk these days.

  12. 12
    glue_factory on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I’ve always been disappointed that I couldn’t find more hardcore records like this; a marriage of malevolent sounding breakbeats and euphoric (yet melancholic) vocals. Once jungle arrived, happy-hardcore seemed to abandon breakbeats for 4/4 beats, and most hardcore before that point, for me, just didn’t seem happy enough.

    As I recall, it was records like this which prompted much soul-searching about what records should qualify for the indie charts. Clearly records like this were more “independent” of major-record label control than a lot of other indie stuff and yet, in almost every other respect, were a world away from the latest album by the Field Mice. I think some kind of exclusion was introduced for the ravier end of the spectrum, but I’ve no idea how you’d draft something like that.

  13. 13
    thefatgit on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I have a lot of time for the music that emerged from the Hardcore/Jungle division. Genaside II’s “Narra Mine” and the tracks Punctum mentions above were constantly being played in my car around this time.
    I had this on some generic rave compilation, but their follow-up was my penultimate single purchase. It got to #3 about 6 or 7 Popular months from now. I guess I was always a sucker for an euphoric speeded-up cover version of a ballad (check my comments on PSB’s AOMM). Their D&B version “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime” seems contrived now with its rap interlude but at the time I fell for that smooth hook all over again, just as I did with The Korgis in 1980.

  14. 14
    will on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I loved it and enjoyed seeing it go to Number One. But the curious thing was at the time its success had a nostalgic tinge to it. It seems incredible now but by late ’94 rave’s peak years of 91-92 seemed a distant utopian era before UK dance’s various tribes – house, drum n’ bass, techno – stopped speaking to each other. To me anyway, there was a sadness to this that, as Auntie Beryl mentions, LMBYF captures beautifully.

    As I recall its success led to a whole swathe of 91/92 era hits – Sweet Harmony, Is There Anybody Out There etc – being rereleased, remixed and repackaged in ’95 as ‘classics’.

  15. 15
    Chelovek na lune on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Great record. I’d loved it first time out (I seem to recall it making no 1 on the London Kiss FM chart then), and (having gone way to North-East Fife in the intervening 2 years) was surprised, if delighted, to hear its return, to such success. (I have to agree wholeheartedly with Punctum’s references to the groundbreaking nature of the various SUAD-affiliated artists, of the early 90s and “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare”, as well as Acen, of course. And a fair bit of the output of R&S Records, too).

    Although, for all of its “breaking out frmo the underground” nature….in retrospect, this track, perhaps more than any other, now looks like the big daddy to the mostly rather dubious efforts (debut excepted) of N-Trance….bastard offspring, indeed.

    Immeasurably better than the disappointing Stone Roses return single, too. Which at least was a preemptive warning about their album…

    As for the followup, the Baby D take on Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime. Hmm. Such a fine song is resilient enough to cope with even gratuitous tinkering (as some of the stereotypically “jungle” inserts essentially were): Nicola Roberts version from last year was of a similar calibre (ie better than mediocre, less than great), but the song remained intact and brilliant.

    The mixture of joy and melancholy on LMBYF is a fine thing. A solid 8, maybe a 9

  16. 16
    Brendan on 29 Apr 2013 #

    The best number 1 by far since 1990 for reasons which have already been adequately covered, and to the refusniks I ask do you really prefer the endless stream of Take That, Love is All Around and the, frankly, novelty records that filled in the gaps to this beauty?

  17. 17
    swanstep on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Those with any musical training should be able to help with this, is it a contrast between major and minor chords?
    Well, its single, monotonous four chord pattern (except for the ‘middle eight’ bit – not sure what that is) alternates minor and major (vi V iii IV) and never goes near the tonic (I) if that’s what you’re referring to.

    Anyhow, LMBYF is new to me and, with #7 and #11 above, it feels pretty dull, characterless, unmusical to me (compare with EWF’s similarly minor-ific Fantasy – there’s no comparison). It did nothing down under or in the US, seemingly for good reason:
    4 or 5 (mainly for the surprise middle 8 and for the rest of track’s vague representativeness of come-down room vibe I suppose – too bad we’re not discussing Protection from this time period).

  18. 18
    Steve Mannion on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #2 Funnily enough Beryl I was ruminating on ‘a history of modern (post-War at least) melancholic dance music’ (on a sonic basis, not lyrics and vocals) this morning and thought it might make for an interesting playlist.

    One of my favourite piano chord sequences in Hardcore rave can be heard on Skin Up’s ‘A Juicy Red Apple’ although it’s more about the interplay of melancholy and menace (in a generally euphoric and otherwise somewhat inane affair) akin to a break during a thunderous rainstorm where sunlight penetrates the clouds only to reflect on them more darkly.

    LMBYF’s balance of those three moods is differently weighted for wider appeal with the menace only occurring in the middle eight. Dyce & Nino’s approach tended to go this way although their darkest productions (e.g. the wonderfully eerie ‘Exodus (The Lion Awakes)’ as Brothers Grimm with its cheeky sped-up sample of ‘Tubular Bells’) and House Crew’s ‘We Are Hardcore’) are just as effective.

    Their cover of The Korgis took its cue from the original more manic Hardcore version of the song credited to N.R.G. (but titled ‘I Need Your Lovin’).

  19. 19
    Cumbrian on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #16: Personally, I am yet to see any real link between someone disliking this and liking the #1s that have come in the 3 years prior to it. It’s possible to both like this and like some of those #1s. It is also possible to dislike this and dislike all of those #1s. I’m sure those that don’t like LMBYF can talk to their own opinions but this is a fairly obvious strawman.

    I wouldn’t elevate it to the level that others have here, but then I wasn’t of the age to be going to clubs and dancing to this or anything like this. The breakbeat caught my ear though and I like Auntie Beryl’s drawing out of the pleading, melancholic tinge provided by piano and vocals. It’s got something going for it on that basis – and I personally would rate it high enough for a vote in the year end poll – but I definitely needed someone else to put into words what that was – so kudos to Auntie Beryl (I had a nagging feeling that something more was going on and couldn’t put my finger on it).

  20. 20
    Tom on 29 Apr 2013 #

    There’s definitely a melancholy here but for me not as pronounced as some dance hits, if anything melancholic tinges on uplifting housey tracks seemed to be a norm not an aberration. I don’t think it’s usually much to do with the text of the song, it feels more like an awareness suffusing these tracks that nights (and highs) always end. Bittersweet, maybe, rather than melancholy?

  21. 21
    Weej on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I’d been into Oceanic, Urban Cookie Collective and ‘Charlie’ as a pre-teen, at least in a taped-them-off-the-top-40 way, but 1994 seems to have marked a rockist (or rather indieist) phase. I was listening to lots of new music I loved, but the public seemed to be sending worse and worse up the charts. Rave, sad to say, was the main casualty of this blanket dismissal, and it wouldn’t be until The Chemical Brothers’ Life Is Sweet a couple of years later that I would change my mind.
    So I didn’t like LMBYF at the time, couldn’t understand why people were buying it, or why Radio 1 and TOTP presenters were introducing it like it was something special. I’m afraid this feeling still remains. There just doesn’t seem to be much there to grab me – sure, I like the house pianos, the amen break, not so much the vocals, but I just feel like it’s done better elsewhere.
    The break is pretty wonderful though. For that it gets a 6.

  22. 22
    Steve Mannion on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Baby D’s earlier efforts ‘Casanova’ and ‘Daydreaming’ are worth hearing if only for a nice game of ‘name the sampler’ (e.g. the former on The Prodigy’s ‘Break And Enter’) – Dyce & Nino often the culprits themselves, re-contextualising Dorothy’s lines and their own work to suit their next manoeuvre.

    The Baby D stuff generally represents to me a specific antecdent of Katy B (even the names are similar ha) and so the latter’s success in recent years has been a pleasure to see, although her hits have shown a little more versatility (dubstep, house, breakbeat-based pop) really.

  23. 23
    Tom on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Re. “I Need Your Loving” – I liked it a lot, but it had been done a couple years before by this guy http://www.discogs.com/NRG-Featuring-Korgis-I-Need-Your-Love-Everybodys-Got-To-Learn-Sometimes/master/12397 – whose version popped up on React’s The Dark Side compilation (and so I heard it). Obviously the song was a good fit for rave! (And the Korgis were good sports, or needed the cash).

  24. 24
    glue_factory on 29 Apr 2013 #

    Re: 23, I love the sleevenotes that are apparently on The Dark Side comp, according to Discogs:

    “Hardcore has once again astounded the House nation with it´s diversity, no longer is a Rave track a selection of obscure noises from an ancient analog keyboard, the modern era Rave tune is now more likely to contain a multiplicity of elements such as Soul, Techno and Rap from diverse musical cultures. All the tracks on this album have some of the elements; ruff cut up beats, severe bass lines, uplifting vocals, piano breaks, dark sounds (sometimes samples from horror films). The end result is music that has a power and intensity that elevates the mind.”

  25. 25
    MikeMCSG on 29 Apr 2013 #

    # 4 Was Dorothy the blonde babe in the video ? I’m suspecting not.

    I only really remember this as a 10 second excerpt on The Chart Show. As a non-clubber I’ve no way into this sort of music so it’s a pass from me.

  26. 26
    Another Pete on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #25
    I think it is, here she is a mere 9 years earlier. (Backing singer on the right)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfpg1oghf3Q

  27. 27
    lonepilgrim on 29 Apr 2013 #

    I have no memory of this at all but I like it a lot.
    Late November seems a strange time for a record like this to hit the top – was that a coincidence or did it reflect the rise of big clubs like Ministry of Sound, etc?

  28. 28
    23 Daves on 29 Apr 2013 #

    It doesn’t surprise me that this track has split the opinions of readers, actually, since I can remember it doing much the same thing at the time. Either you thought it was a masterpiece, a club classic which could not be criticised in any way, or you thought it was run-of-the-mill and really couldn’t find a way in. I was (and still am) in the latter camp, unfortunately. When this was at number one I actually had a loud, drunken argument with the lead guitarist of the (awful) band I was in – he believed it was an achievement somewhere close to the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, whereas I thought it was a rather dull record.

    If I’d actually gone out to many clubs at the time I might have found a way into it – possibly, maybe. And having said all the above, I did just go on to YouTube to listen to the 1992 original (by mistake, actually) and that does sound a bit more enjoyable for reasons I can’t entirely discern. They’re not radically different, but it feels as if its got more of a kick to it. I still wouldn’t choose to play it myself at home, though.

  29. 29
    Auntie Beryl on 29 Apr 2013 #

    #22 That’s a very good call on Katy B. “Perfect Stranger” on the Magnetic Man album is a direct descendant of “Let Me Be Your Fantasy”.

  30. 30
    fivelongdays on 30 Apr 2013 #

    Phew! Thought I was the only person here who didn’t like the track.

    I suspect there is some kind of difference (if only in my head) between ravey dance tracks (banging beats, thumping bass, interesting noises etc etc), which I like, and clubby dance tracks (of which this is an example), which I don’t.

    Anyone else, who knows more about this stuff, care to comment?

1 2 3 All

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)

Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page