Mary J.

Yes, you got that right another “new” series. This series though, is going to be fun and for the most part the posts will be short and sweet. You see I have questions, but often I don’t have a lot of questions and in this case I just have one question.

Today our subject is Mary J. Blige’s classic cover of “Sweet Thing” originally recorded in 1975 by Rufus feat. Chaka Khan. So in many ways we have a song that has become classic material in two separate eras. In many ways the success of “Sweet Thing” in the early 90’s could very well be attributed to the widespread curiosity and appreciation of parent’s or older siblings record collections from the 1970’s. In fact leading up to 1992 a resurgence in popularity for the films and music (and in some cases fashion) had begun in earnest.

My question is much simpler though and it’s a musical one. Beginning at 3:08 as the song continues on its vamp out with the signature accompaniment whereby all of the instruments are accenting all four beats on the line “Love me now or I’ll go crazy.”, something very curious happens on Mary J.’s version. I understand doing drops, that happens all the time in many traditions from the church to the studio, but something in this drop doesn’t sit well with me and I just actually thought about the other day.

All of the music drops and it’s just the vocals and the drum track, but when Mary gets to “Love me now…” line only the crash cymbal hits and it drives me nuts. Crash cymbals without the accompanying bass drum is like Corona without lime. Yeah you can do it, but why would you want to? If you want to know the sign of someone who has not played drums before or they haven’t given much attention to the entire sound of the drums let them sit down at a kit and they will play about two beats, stop and hit the crash with no kick drum in sight every time.

I know it’s a small thing but I’m just wondering who signed off on that? A great track all the way around but when it gets to that part it sounds empty like someone forgot to keep the kick going on the drop, because up until that time the kick was hitting with the crash cymbal. Oh well, I guess they were on a deadline.

I’m The Love Man and that’s my question, until next time.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.