Crate Digger: RONNIE CHAPMAN Annie B. Is Gone
Ronnie Chapman Annie B. Is Gone (Columbia 1959)
I was in a discussion recently online with another DJ, a nice chap called Jason, about this record when I stated that although I really liked it and wanted to play it out more I had found in the past it was ‘dance floor poision’. Maybe I could get away with it really early doors when people were still arriving and not warmed up but generally, I avoided it. Jason on the other hand liked to throw it in the middle of a set, he had a name for this, he called it ‘going full Belgian’ on his audience. Jason is a far braver man than I.
The outer reaches of the Belgian Popcorn scene, where Annie B firmly resides, are a strange place to most British ears used to the four to the floor of the Northern Scene or the RnB groove of Modernist dance floors. To be a Popcorn record it doesn’t matter what type of music it is, it just has to ‘be’ Popcorn. And what Popcorn ‘is’ can lead to many debates.
Ronnie Chapman’s lament about a lost, dead love could be ‘Big Voice’ Popcorn but then again it might be ‘Country’ Popcorn and further, still, it could possibly be ‘Emotional’ Popcorn. Any or even all of these labels could easily apply. Overall it’s a strange but still appealing record with a massive Baritone vocal over a lush orchestra complete with spooky backing vocals and a killer chorus. More importantly, it was slow enough tempo-wise for a Belgian dancer to execute the Popcorn Style dancing to, a slow, twirling jive of sorts. As The Popcorn (the club where this type of music originated) was open on Sunday lunchtime only and the drug of choice was Tuborg Lager, there was no way the dancers could be energetically throwing themselves about in the manner of Casino goers in Wigan. You gently twirled your partner through the steps whilst a burly bartender carried a crate of bottles on his shoulder around the dance floor and kept you lubricated constantly apparently. It sounds like heaven.
Many records in this scene were pitch-shifted (slowed) down to suit the tempo of the dancing. I am betting no one bothered with Annie B as Ronnie Chapman’s voice would have then been so low the frequencies would have shaken the speakers apart. But despite being written for a completely different audience and even for a completely different purpose Annie B ‘is’ pure Popcorn and that’s all there is to it.
RONNIE CHAPMAN Annie B. Is Gone
Composers: DeFelice, Buzzeo
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