Player\'s 1977 Self-Titled Debut Album

Player's 1977 Self-Titled Debut Album

Who knew that a shaggy mop or an old fashioned feather duster could inspire such an emotional response, but in the new ads for Swiffer, I actually feel for them – no matter how much the folks at Proctor & Gamble want me not to. Of course, my reaction has everything to do with the ads’ use of Player‘s disco-era soft-rock chestnut “Baby Come Back”, and the urgent harmonies with which the band beg forgiveness – you can blame it all! on! me! I was wrong – on behalf of obsolescent cleaning supplies everywhere. The best spot features an unsuspecting Swiffer-iffic housewife peaking out the window to find a sombrero-sporting trio serenading her with a mariachi style version of the song, and a feather duster peaks out sheepishly from behind one of their legs. The poor thing reminds me of the look on my dachsund’s face after we’ve scolded him for doing a #2 on the livingroom carpet. With the anthropomorphizing power of classic 70s pop/rock songcraft on the feather duster’s side, who wouldn’t give up the sleak, stylish green now-ness of the Swiffer – the cleaning supply equivalent of a Pharrell hook, perhaps – for the scruffily sincere feather duster?

The irony is that there’s really nothing at all scruffy about “Baby Come Back”, except perhaps for certain band members’ faces, circa 1977. The song opens with a cool, syncopated bassline and a tidy, just shy of uptempo, beat – the L.A. quartet had certainly absorbed some production lessons from their labelmates at RSO, the Bee Gees. The guitar harmonies on the song have an instantly identifiable, warbly tremelo effect that I don’t think I’ve ever heard on any other song, and if I had, it would almost certainly make me think of Player; and the verses have a soulfully aimless drift to them which makes the desperate pleas of the chorus that much more monumental. Unfortunately, for Player, the song proved an impossible act to follow, and while they recorded four studio albums and scored a couple of minor hit singles – their 1980 single “Givin’ It All” was a transparent rewrite of “Baby Come Back” – before they called it quits in the early 80s, Player were never able to replicate the success of their debut. Thank God for licensing.

The quartet reunited in the mid-90s and even put out a new album called Lost in Reality in 1996 for the River North label. In 1998, they released an excellent best-of set which collected a handful of songs from each of their albums (including the reunion record), and, at this point, you can probably pick that up for less than the price of a Swiffer Duster.