Sunday, December 7, 2008

Duff Review: Babylove and the van Dangos - Lovers Choice

Megalith Records

Despite a moniker that might seem a bit soft to American sensibilities, Babylove and the van Dangos, whose members hail from Denmark and Germany, deliver a righteous mix of vintage ska, rocksteady, reggae, and Motown ("A Brand New Beat") that will appeal to all fans of the good Dr. Ring Ding and the Senior Allstars (see Ram di Dance or Dandimite). Lovers Choice, their second album, contains a wealth of superbly smooth (thanks to singer Daniel "Babylove" Broman's wonderfully warm and rich tone) and excellently produced tunes, and features some terrific duets with sometime Skatalites singer Doreen Shaffer, who is in great form on the love song "Number One," and ex-Toasters/Pilfers frontman Coolie Ranx, who brings some noise to the stinging dressing down of "Big, Big Baboon." (Also of note, Victor Rice produced the kick ass dubs that form the Alpha--"A Dubbly Day"--and Omega--"Dub to the Fire"--of this album.)

"Coin in the Hat"--ostensibly a song about busking--could be read as a plea (or veiled threat?) to all the music file sharers out there who keep musicians from earning a decent living off their craft: "So put a coin in the hat for me Mr. Good Tune...So how come you don't want to pay for my sweat and tears?/You know a singer can't pay no bills with kind words and cheers-No!...Just imagine what carpenter and baker would say/working ten, twelve, sixteen hours, but still get no pay/So think next time when someone play/what the world would be like if music fade away..." The awesome R&B-ish "Stormy Weather" (about facing life without one's soulmate and having no illusions about it) sweet sells a barrel full of cliches straight up and convincingly (I bought 'em): "Rats have left a sinking ship/I stand with whitening knuckles at the wheel/waiting for the hull to rip/as the sharks close in for the kill...So it seems/like I'm in for stormy weather/and it seems that I'll have to face it on my own/and it seems that since we can't be together/there won't be any sunshine for awhile..." An essential song to help pick you up when nothing seems like it ever could be set right.

"Big, Big Baboon," whose sound strongly echos Lord Tanamo and Derek Morgan, is a song about "the king of all the fools": "Now you can dress up in tie or dress up in shirt/your monkey butt is showing, we know what you're worth/Big Baboon, you're nothing but a goon!" A perfect valentine to the pompous, bombastic, miscreant in your life (we all have at least one!). "So Long, Copenhagen," which wouldn't be out of place in UB40's setlist, is full of regret about leaving a city that you unexpectedly fell in love with, but "this stone's got to roll again." You, on the other hand, won't be sorry if you stick close to Babylove and the van Dangos, as wherever they are heading will be one fantastic trip...

Grade: B+/A-


Gabe said...

Great review!
I'm still itching to hear this real bad.

Steve from Moon said...


Thanks for the feedback! Enjoy the CD!