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The Sins of Pitchfork #1

8 September 2007

In Friday’s Pitchfork review of Budos Band II, JOE TANGARI’s heart is in the right place, and he’s praising a band I like, but shouldn’t music critics know something about, you know, music? He writes, “Checking over the songwriting credits, I was initially surprised to see SMOKEY ROBINSON’s name in the credit for ‘His Girl,’ but listening closely, it is, in fact, based very loosely on ‘My Girl.’ It’s so thoroughly altered that they could have gotten away with calling it an original, especially at this breakneck tempo….”

You don’t have to listen closely to this song to hear the relationship; I heard it the first time I played it, at Sound Fix, and immediately (before the first chorus was finished) remarked to Sound Fix’s owner, James, on what BUDOS BAND had done—so I’ve got a witness. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a clever, imaginative arrangement, and I like it; my criticism is of Tangari, and of Pitchfork for using such an obviously deficient writer. (Nor is he the only example.) Anybody who says this song is “based very loosely on ‘My Girl’” and is “thoroughly altered” and taken at a “breakneck tempo” is ignorant of the most basic aspects of music. “His Girl” is “My Girl” played in minor instead of major, which from a compositional standpoint is not “based very loosely” at all, it’s “based very closely.” As far as that “breakneck tempo,” by my calculations THE TEMPTATIONS’ version is 106 BPM, while Budos Band plays it at 116 BPM. Yes, that’s noticeably faster, but not by a lot (just two and a half bars of music over the course of a minute), and certainly not “breakneck.”

Temptations’ video for “My Girl”:

The first 1:25 of “His Girl”:

Anyway, go buy Budos Band II. And their first album. And everything on the great Daptone label. And don’t believe everything you read on Pitchfork. BTW, Joe, the band’s from Staten Island, not Brooklyn.