George McCrae – “Rock Your Baby”

This song was a major part of my teen years. It was among the many songs played at the roller-rink back then and my friends and I frequented on the weekends as well as cruising the drag. George McCrae’s vocal range is amazing!

One of the first hits of the disco era, this sold over 11 million copies worldwide. The song was written by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch of KC & The Sunshine Band, and it formed the basis for their wildly successful writing and performing partnership which yielded five more US #1 hits and pioneered the disco sound. Released in 1974 on the album titled “Latest and Greatest Hits, peaking at #1 in the US and UK. Casey and Finch worked for T.K. Records, which was a distributor and a studio, complete with a house band that would become KC & The Sunshine Band. One of the artists who recorded at T.K. was Timmy Thomas, who had a hit with “Why Can’t We Live Together?”

Finch told Songfacts: “His organ was left up in the studio, and ‘Rock Your Baby’ became born unto this crazy drum machine that was inside of this Lowry organ that he left there. I used to use that as a tempo map, and I would play along with the drum machine. In the beginning, it would hide my errors, but it would also teach me to be a better drummer because I was paying attention to it that closely. Then we would build on that. We had a 1-inch 8-track machine and I had a cheap Japanese bass. We were just recording and recording and recording. And one night, this one track came out better than anything else. It was like God was in the building or something – we had been blessed. It was like the hunger and desire were so incredibly overwhelming that some magical moment happened in there. We knew to build on that track.

There were a bunch of records coming out at that point. Hues Corporation had a song called ‘Rock The Boat,’ and Harry and I were also paying attention to the chart actions at clubs, because club records, according to Henry’s direction, we’re doing better than just regular R&B Records. Back then you could sneak into a club and they didn’t check your ID, so Harry and I would once in a while go sneak into the local clubs. There was one on Southwest 8th Street in Miami, Florida, that played dance music. We’d go in there for about an hour or two until it got to be way too late for us to be there. And we’d pay attention to what brought the people to the dance floor, and what made them sit down. So we started gearing ourselves to writing more in that direction. ‘Rock Your Baby’ was inspired by the gathering of all that information.”

Originally, Casey and Finch were the only two musicians on “Rock Your Baby.” After they had the initial track down, they paid Jerome Smith $15 to put a guitar on it. They frequently functioned this way in the early days of KC & The Sunshine Band, keeping a minimum of core band members and then bringing in session musicians on an as-needed basis.

Finch revealed a bit of engineering geekery that went into this song: The bass drum on this recording was actually a transistor radio speaker. Said Finch, “One day the microphone was broken for the kick drum. Being the electronics gadget dude that I was, I figured maybe the diaphragm was broken inside the microphone. I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t work, but it didn’t. So I took that microphone apart, and I used the transformer inside and connected it to a regular speaker from a little tiny pocket radio. I put the speaker in the bass drum, and that’s what I used as a mic for the kick on the ‘Rock Your Baby.’ (laughs) It came out really good.”

T.K. Records owner Henry Stone recalled in 1000 UK #1 Hit by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, “I suggested to Harry that Gwen McCrae (George McRae’s wife) might be a good contender to cut the track, but just then George walked in and I then told Harry to let George have a go first.”

According to Finch, his first check for this song was for $227,000. That’s a cool quarter of a million dollars at age 20! The first thing he decided to do with the check was to buy his mom a Jaguar, even though the United States at the time was in the thick of the 1970s oil crisis, and his mom didn’t even have a driver’s license and didn’t get one for another seven years. This lack of financial foresight cost Finch dearly when he signed a disastrous contract to part ways with the band in the early ’80s. He gave up his royalties for the songs he wrote and performed, losing millions of dollars in potential revenue when many of the KC and the Sunshine Band’s hits were revived in TV shows, movies, and cover versions. (check out our full interview with Richard Finch)

 

Song Lyrics –

Sexy mama

Woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby
Woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby

There’s nothing to it
Just say you wanna do it
Open up your heart
And let the loving start

Oh, woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby
Woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby

Yeah, hold me tight
With all your might
Now, let your loving flow
Real sweet and slow

Oh, woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby
Woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby

Oh, woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby
Woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby

Oh, woman, take me in your arms
And rock me
Ah woman, take me in your arms
And rock me, ahh

Written by: Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch 

Photo credit: Yahoo.com/images

Video Credit: YouTube.com