“Baby, Come To Me” by Patti Austin (duet with James Ingram), 1981


Similar to “At This Moment”, which we profiled a bit earlier, here’s another song that performed modestly in its original chart run before being resurrected years later (in this case, about a year and a half) thanks to TV exposure. In “Baby, Come To Me”’s case, it was used in a storyline on the daytime soap General Hospital.

GH was a big hit at the crib when I was a kid (hell, into high school.) My grandmother and my cousin Sharon (who I now am pretty sure wasn’t my cousin, but a boarder) were usually sitting in front of the TV watching the latest adventures of Luke and Laura, Dr. Quartermaine (not sure if that’s spelled right) and Noah Drake (Sharon had a massive crush on Rick Springfield) when I got home from school. And I have just reeled off the names of every single General Hospital character I know.

I can only assume that Luke & Laura Spencer had much to do with this particular 45′s presence in my family collection.

“Baby, Come To Me” is soft pop/soul perfection. Quincy Jones’ production is crystalline, but not antiseptic. There’s some soul in those grooves (as there is in much of what is now occasionally derisively termed yacht rock.) I’m partial to the album version, which adds about a half minute of instrumental build to the intro.

“Baby Come To Me” was Patti Austin’s only real pop hit. For whatever reason, the train never really got rolling for her, which is a shame because she’s such a talented vocalist. She added some sublime shading to so many Quincy produced songs (chief among them being “Give Me The Night”).

The Patti/James contrast made the song. Smooth vs. rough. Patti’s vocal is sly and smooth, while James is urgent, pleading.

Speaking of sublime shading, how about those background vocals, featuring none other than Mr. Michael McDonald? The whole Michael McDonald-Quincy Jones-James Ingram-Michael Jackson axis is very interesting (and is what made MJ’s claim that he sang background on “What A Fool Believes” and “Minute By Minute” feasible, even if he turned out to not be telling the truth.)

NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…

“…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears: “Iconic” and “perfect” are not synonymous. “…Baby One More Time” is an iconic song (due more to the video than the song), but if it was to come on the radio (in the unlikely event that I’d be listening to the radio), I’d probably change the station. If it came up on shuffle, I’d probably sing the first verse for shits and giggles, then skip to the next song. It took a long time for me to even like “…Baby One More Time”. I can’t legitimately say I love it.

“Baby Wants To Ride” by Frankie Knuckles feat. Jamie Principle: This song is sleazy in all the right ways, and it was one of the first house tracks to make any kind of national noise. I’d definitely enter it into an intergalactic house music competition. I don’t know if it qualifies for an intergalactic all music competition. For what it’s worth, I had the biggest issue knocking this song down a star. I’m still feeling some guilt about it. Maybe it’s just because I want to write a paragraph expressing how surprised I am that Jamie Principle is straight.

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