Caleb, AKA Caleb Quaye, released this single in 1967. I first heard the great psychedelic song “Baby Your Phrasing is Bad” on the Nuggets II box set.
I love this song, and have put it on mix CDs in the past and almost certainly will in the future.
Here are the liner notes from Nuggets II:
Baby Your Phrasing is Bad
Or more appropriately: Baby, your phasing is bad.
New advances in studio technology in the ’60s created new possibilities for musical experimentation. Phasing–or “skying”–was a studio effect that was in vogue during the psychedelic era. The technique involved a slightly out-of-sync tape playback, which created a suitably trippy whooshing effect. The Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park” and The Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” are two popular examples from the period, though the effect was used as early as 1961, on Miss Toni Fisher’s hit “The Big Hurt.”
The phasing effect was given full rein on this quirky solo track by session guitarist Caleb Quaye, and it sends vocals, guitars, and drums swooping and diving all over the sky. However, when Philips released the track as a single in June 1967, it headed straight down in the opposite direction.
Quaye was later a member of Hookfoot and also played guitar for Elton John, who is rumored to be on this session somewhere.
The phasing effect is super-sweet. I’m surprised the song isn’t better known. Maybe Wes Anderson will stick it in movie someday.
In addition to playing in Elton John’s band, Caleb Quaye also played with Hall & Oates. He became a committed Christian and currently works in ministry. He still records on occasion, recently releasing a jazz-rock fusion album.
You wouldn’t have gotten any hint of all that from listening to “Baby Your Phrasing Is Bad.”
Here’s the B-side, “A Woman of Distinction.” Although not as memorable as “Baby,” it’s a fine ’60s number in and of itself. It is available on volume one of the Rubble compilation series of obscure ’60s songs. (“Baby Your Phrasing is Bad” is on volume four).
Incidentally, Caleb is the older brother of Finley Quaye.