Monday, July 18, 2011

Drums: Saved

LaVern Baker: Saved


Could I be asked to choose a favourite drum track between the percussive detonations on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Uptight’ and the assault of drums on Tim Rose’s pre-Hendrix version of ‘Hey Joe’? And if I do, will I not be lacking in fidelity to the pulsating flourishes on The Five Stairsteps’ ‘Ooh Child’?

I suppose none of those would qualify in terms of this week’s theme, with its expectation that the drums be part of the song’s essence.

Of course, the use of drums reached a zenith in a gospel song recorded on 12 June 1960 by the R&B singer LaVern Baker, who had been recording since she was a teenager in the mid-’40s, going by several names, most famously Little Miss Sharecropper .

‘Saved’ was written by the legendary songwriting and publishing team Leiber & Stoller. Fans of Elvis’ Comeback Special in 1968 will know it as a decent little gospel number, but Elvis couldn’t possibly hold a candle to Baker’s explosive version. She sings it forcefully, but it’s the thundering bass drums with which she proposes to do her missionary work that makes this track rock furiously. Try and sit still to this!

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