Waldeck – Ballroom Stories
(EDIT: I have been informed (mostly by the spike in people viewing this article) that a Waldeck song has recently been featured in another commercial. I just wanted to apologize for some of the terrible writing in this, it was one of my first articles for the site. I would go through and change some of the glaring punctual and grammatical mistakes but I kind of like to be reminded of how much I used to (still do?) suck, it’s humbling.)
It’s rare having two people share the exact same path when discovering a song or artist they like. Several people will discover a song by hearing it on the radio but even then, the experiences and reasons why they first enjoyed it can be different. One person could hear a song in a car after an awesome day at the office and emotionally connect with it that way. Another person could hear the same song at the same time after breaking up with someone at their house and it connects with them because of that situation. It’s because of these differences every person has that I I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with telling people what my favorite anything is. Whenever someone asks what my favorite artist or song is, it takes me ten minutes of detailed explaining exactly why. Part of this is probably because I don’t enjoy being judged a certain way for liking what I do. The bigger reason I always expand when asked is because I believe 95% (I don’t know what the other 5% is) of the reason something is someone’s favorite thing is because of their past experiences and the situations that led up to that being their favorite whatever.
The last paragraph is just my long way of saying that when I review or go over these albums from the past I enjoy, I’m not going to do it so much from an outsiders technical point of view as I am from personal experiences and what led this to be something I love. If all goes to plan hopefully I can help expose some of my favorites to other people and make them something they enjoy as well.
Now that I’ve bored away half the people who decided to give this a read I’ll get to the actual review.
Waldeck is a band I’ve liked for a few years now and as I began to write this I tried to remember exactly how I first started to listen to them. Doing this made me realize just how funny and weird some of the paths music takes to become something a person listens to. I was able to trace my discovery of Waldeck back to the viewing of It’s All Gone Pete Tong from my freshmen year of college. I really enjoyed the soundtrack to the movie leading me to discover the Beat Band, the Beta Band and Penguin Café Orchestra, all three providing my favorite tracks from the album. I can’t remember exactly which one it was I looked up similar artists for but it was doing that, that led me to Parov Stelar. It was later when looking up similar artists to Parov Stelar that led me to first listening to Waldeck. It’s weird to think I might never of heard one of my favorite albums from the last few years had it not been for the late night viewing of It’s All Gone Pete Tong.
”Make My Day”, the first song on Ballroom Stories and the one I first heard when trying Waldeck is also probably one of the most well known of their songs from being used in a Mercedes Benz commercial.
The bouncy dream-like melody “Make My Day” begins with is what first caught my attention when listening to the track. Then Joy Malcolm (one of Klaus Waldeck’s go to vocalists) comes in with the lyrics:
“You know how to turn me on
Oh you got it going on
Baby you can make my day”
Not exactly a Shakesperian soliloquy lyric wise, but I would be lying if I said those lyrics weren’t perfect for that exact moment. Soon as Joy Malcolm came in singing, I, like the lyrics in the song say, got a little turned on and had a good old (metaphorical) music boner going. That song not only made my day but started to permanently shift my opinions on female vocalists. My shift in opinion had already started but Joy Malcolm and Zeebee (the female who provides most of the vocals for this album) are what helped to change my sexist little music mind.
I have no clear description of what type of music Waldeck is and I’m always at a loss whenever I’m asked. I have seen them listed as electronic, trip-hop, Nu Jazz and the genera I feel they fit into best; electro swing. It’s like what swing music from the 20’s would sound like if infused with dub and lounge music from today. 20’s, dub and lounge may seem like an odd combo but it makes for the perfect songs to play when I’m in the mood to get a little bit excited and ready for the night or as a more relaxing comedown mix for a nights end.
Zeebee provides the vocals for the majority of the tracks on this album but Brian Amos makes a few appearances as he does on most Waldeck albums. Vienna, Austria is where the album was recorded and where Klaus Waldeck, the brains behind the album, was born. Klaus had a very odd path that led him to music. He was a copyright lawyer in the 80’s until George Harrison was involved in a lawsuit for using an old tune he did not create or own. This event shifted Klaus into making music and coming out with Waldecks first EP in the 90’s. Waldeck came out with one EP, two full length albums and two remix albums from the late 90’s to 2002. It wasn’t until 2007, five years after their last album that Ballroom Stories was released (Thank you Wikipedia).
Information like the last paragraph has never been a factor in why I enjoy music and I’ve never started to like an artist or band based solely on their personal history or actions outside of making music. On the flip-side of the situation, I have started to dislike several groups because of their past actions or douche like persona’s (I’m looking at you Oasis and Kanye). I only bring this up because it has nothing to do with my appreciation of this album.
Ballroom Stories was definitely a “right place, right time “album for me, fitting in perfectly with my college years. It’s not like college was that hard and I was never really emotionally distraught enough to need a major pick-me-up, but I was still always looking for albums that could put me into a great mood. Waldecks Ballroom Stories was the perfect dose of happy for me, with its bouncy, swingy feelgood nature and every time I would hear one of the songs from it I would instantly perk up. Anyone who is looking for a fun, different album that transports you back to the swinging 20’s I would recommend Ballroom Stories.
If you would like anymore information about Waldeck you can visit their website Here.
Songs to listen to first:
Make My Day