Cripes, I can't believe we have got this far without the elephant in the room, glowering impatiently, stuck, if you will, and awaiting attention. The boss has even pleaded vaingloriously, at least thus far, for the necessary wink to be tipped. So, by public apathy, let me bring you the late and the great Gerry Rafferty, paired with Joe Egan, together better(?) known as Stealer's Wheel.
But, I wonder, would anyone know the song but for it's mercurial appearance in the soundtrack of Tarantino's explosive debut, 'Reservoir Dogs' and of course I have linked to that scene. But, at least over here in the UK, the song had had a respectable life of it's own, hitting a 1973 number 8 in the charts. (Actually, a quick whiz to wiki shows me it did even better in the US, with a Billboard 6, no doubt abetted by the production of famed production team, (Jerry) Leiber and (Mike) Stoller of Elvis Presley fame.) Although the album produced another couple of relative hits, they seemed destined to be placed in one-hit wonderland, fading from grace thereafter, 2 later records peforming fairly poorly. (But worth chasing out.)
The break up of the band did not bode well for Joe Egan, disallowed from recording for 3 years by a court order, such was the depth of 'musical differences.' After a pair of barely noticed discs in 1979 and 1982 he left the business. Rafferty fared much better, again despite the 3 year legal albatross,cementing his reputation with the enduring majesty of 'Baker Street', eclipsing his earlier success with a 3 and a 2, respectively, in the UK and the US. His dreamy vocal enraptured me at the time, and I picked up most of his subsequent work. Sadly, in later years, he became increasingly dependent on alcohol, the media picking up on various chaotic scenes, probably leading to his, to all intent and purpose, disappearance in 2008, give or take further reportage. He died of liver failure in 2010. R.I.P.
The songs live on, a fitter memorial than the newsprint. A remarkable fact is that, at the height of Reservoir Dog-mania, the then still alive Rafferty refused a re-release of the song, which would undoubtedly have been again a huge hit. Quite what the thoughts of co-author Egan thought around that seems unrecorded, but I am sure, and hope, he got some reward from the back catalogue surge.
Plus, I guess, the slurry of covers that have subsequently appeared. Here are the best of them. (Thankfully, of the 3 dozen odd, most are so dire that there is very little chance of this post shoulda having been on Cover Me!)
I'm not even sure if this is that good a cover, being a near copy, albeit with rougher vocals, and a nod, at the intro, to Tarantino. And is that sitar? Whatever, boys, it's Susanna Hoffs. Relax
I quite like the way that this one starts off completely against the grain, before again just apeing the vocal lines. Badly. Still, the Eagles of Death Metal have shown themselves brave in the face of a good deal worse than Mr Blonde, so lets give them the benefit of the doubt.
Do you know, I'm going to leave it there. I actually think it is a song beyond meaninful reinterpretation. Actually as is Baker Street. (Have you heard Waylon Jennings?)
So stick with it. Buy