Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

I get the impression that on the whole, the "indie rock" scene hates Chris Isaak. I suppose I could understand that, most of the cool kids just know him as "old folk" music that doesn't appeal to their refined, intelligent sensibilities, which is, of course, their loss. I'm not saying that Chris Isaak is a lost gem in the wilderness of music, but in the grand scheme on early 1990's rock music, he was an oddball in the scene.

Although I don't listen to it as much as I used to, I still think that Forever Blue deserved a lot more respect than it gets. The whole album is filled wall-to-wall with the sort of self-loathing, broken-heart sentiment that Elliott Smith fans eat with a spoon while the music itself has that undeniably retro feel that mixes so well with a voice like Isaak's. "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing" is a perfect example of this. It starts off with a dark and dusty guitar that get joined by barely-there brushed drums and a rumbling bassline, sort of like the son of Johnny Cash. Chris comes in with a gruff, sinister snarl that suddenly transforms into his signature Roy Orbison-like voice. The whole story is somewhat obscured except that Chris' baby did something terrible and it keeps him up at night, working himself up into such a fiery passion that he sounds like he's ready to take on the rest of his band in a fistfight.

It might not be for everyone, with its perfectly polished Phil Spector production, but I still find the song captivating.