Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Baby Come Back to Me (The Morse Code of Love)" by The Manhattan Transfer

Song#:  2203
Date:  02/02/1985
Debut:  87
Peak:  83
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Doo Wop

Pop Bits:  After a couple of albums that flirted with contemporary pop and R&B sounds, this vocal quartet decided to retreat back to their early pop/standards sound and culled an album of recent live performances with a few leftover studio tracks added in. They titled the collection Bop Doo-Wopp and this studio track was chosen to be the first single. The retro sounding song hit the right notes at AC and it got to #14 on that chart. However, Pop was less enthused and the single only managed a few short weeks on the chart. It would end up being the group's final Pop chart single. Although their Pop days would end, their next album would be one of the most successful of their career. Vocalese was a very well received project where lyrics (by Jon Hendricks) were specifically written for what was originally instrumental jazz songs. Both the lyrics and performances were meant to mimic the instruments that played the original melody and solo lines. The album was a big critical success that got to #2 on the Jazz chart and #74 Pop. The album received twelve Grammy nomination, which at the time was the second biggest total ever for an album behind Michael Jackson's Thriller. It would end up winning three awards including Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  I remember that the Bop Doo-Wopp album had a cool cover, but that was about the best part of it. The album was pretty lackluster and was really just a stop-gap product. This song was a minor highlight, but it couldn't compare with some of the top material from their previous albums. I'm not the biggest fan of doo wop, so I wasn't all that into it. I adored the Transfer at the time and this LP was a big disappointment. However, they definitely made up for it with Vocalese, which was just brilliant.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Transfer dedicated this song to the doo wop vocal group The Capris. Headed up by lead singer Nick Santamaria, the group recorded a single in 1959 that featured the song "There's a Moon Out Tonight." The single sank as did the hopes of The Carpis and they broke up. A year or so went by before a DJ found the record and began to spin it. The song started to catch on and before long it was shaping up to be a hit. The Capris got back together and by the spring of '61, the single had reached #3. With a hit to their name, the group began recording follow-up singles. Unfortunately, none of them could scale the chart as well and by 1965 they parted ways again. Santamaria became an NYPD officer, but along the way kept dabbling in music and writing songs. As the 80s began, Santamaria and a couple of members of the old Capris reformed the group. They recorded an album titled There's a Moon Out Tonight in 1982 and one of the tracks on the album was a song written by Santamaria called "The Morse Code of Love." It's genuine sound made people think it was a lost doo wop gem and it became popular with fans of the genre. Two years later, Manhattan Transfer picked up the tune, changed the title, and reached the Pop and AC charts with it.


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