Apr 222024
gus dapperton what you won't do for love

Brendan Rice made the relatively short physical journey from Warwick to New York City, but traveled an extraordinary artistic distance to become Gus Dapperton, a boy about town in the New York art and pop scene. He effects the whole package, visually arresting and aurally challenging. However, he has never forgotten dancing in the front room with his family on a Friday night, which may have inspired his choice of Bobby Caldwell’s ’70s R&B hit “What You Won’t Do For Love” for his latest cover version.

Caldwell, who passed last year, was a skilled multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter, with crossover talent. He honed his entertainment skills backing Little Richard, and imitated Frank Sinatra in a Vegas show. This song, his biggest hit, was exceptionally smooth, telling of his love. His tone is matter of fact, that love is worth the effort, and there is no need to question the return on considerable investment. It provided an unchallenging palette for others to work from, either in cover versions or for sampling. Some of the covers take a different tone, almost questioning the value of sacrifice by changes in speed, key or intonation.

Dapperton retains the original’s key and speed, but is more discordant. The music does not smoothly run over itself. Autotune is often used to bring the voice into harmony to the music, but here the effect is different. This is voice trying to say the right thing, perhaps even believing the right thing, but it has to try very hard to make it sound that way.


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