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Oh Babe What Would You Say – Hurricane Smith

Oh Babe What Would You Say by Hurricane SmithAuthor’s note: Let’s take a break from heavy metal one-hit wonders and take a look at this little ditty, almost forgotten now but when it was a hit, it was one of those songs that embedded itself in your ear like an annoying mosquito, and you just couldn’t get the stupid thing out of your head.

The seed for this article was sown during an overnight trip I took recently, and as I pulled out of the motel driveway for home, this song, which I hadn’t heard in years, came over the car radio. “THERE’s a classic one-hit wonder,” I said, and I e-mailed Michael about it when I got home. He suggested I write the article instead, so without further ado, let’s celebrate “Oh Babe What Would You Say” by Norman “Hurricane” Smith.

Bad-film fans love nothing more than to laugh at the disasters Hollywood keeps shoving onto the screen. Every year brings a new crop of unintentionally hilarious movies that offer stupid dialogue, cheesy special effects, inane plot twists and horrible “acting” that leave audiences wondering how a film studio can waste so much time and money making such utter garbage.

Hurricane Smith’s “Oh Babe What Would You Say?” is the 45-rpm counterpart to one of those movies: so flat-out awful it’s good. Perhaps a candidate for our list of worst one-hit wonders perhaps?

Listen to Oh Babe What Would You Say by Hurricane Smith

What makes it more bizarre is that Norman Smith engineered and produced early albums by The Beatles and Pink Floyd before changing his name to Hurricane Smith and becoming a recording artist. So the man had legitimate rock ‘n’ roll credentials, none of which are evident on this tune.

My guess is that the hokey-jokey “Oh Babe What Would You Say?” was supposed to be a revival of old-timey British dance-hall music. (OK, whatever.)

Instead, the over-enthusiastic ham-fisted strings, flat, off-key vocals and saxophone playing that sounds like somebody raping a goose turn this song into an unintentional howl. With all the subtlety of a Category 3 hurricane, “Oh Babe What Would You Say?” stormed up the Hot 100 and into our unwilling heads, peaking at Number 3 on the Billboard charts and making Hurricane Smith a one-hit wonder and proving that the pop chart can be one of the goofiest places on the planet along with Area 51 and Washington, DC.

Listen: Hear more of the worst one-hit wonders ever

Smith never again reached the Billboard Top 40. But he continued recording and in 2004 released a new CD titled From Me To You that featured updated recordings of his biggest hits including “Don’t Let It Die” and “Oh Babe, What Would You Say?” Remarkably, members of Pink Floyd and Sir Paul McCartney all penned messages within the liner notes.

Hurricane Smith died in 2008 in East Sussex, England. He was 85 years old.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go crank up some vintage Black Sabbath and get this silly Hurricane Smith song out of my head.

Buy Oh Babe What Would You Say by Hurricane Smith

Lost Hits of the 70's - Various Artists

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I'm a long-time student of the history of rock music and its performers, and my favorite branch of the rock music tree is heavy metal.

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13 Responses to "Oh Babe What Would You Say – Hurricane Smith"

  1. Ken Morgan says:

    Yeah, a real guilty pleasure for me. I know it is hard to point out the redeeming qualities the song has but I really like it anyway!

  2. Jose says:

    I thought your article and opinion was something you should keep to yourself, you do not like anything about it ?
    who cares it climbed up the charts for a reason and people still remember it some fondly

  3. Michael Waterman says:

    Thanks for the comment, Jose. The article was written by a Top One-Hit Wonders contributor, Jim Barton, who finds the song charmingly obnoxious. Glad you enjoy it and thanks for visiting the site.

  4. Carol says:

    Pithy review. That fellow should stay in his little box.

  5. William Di Pinto says:

    If you ever played saxophone you would know this a great catching tune. Don’t forget Hurricane Smith also worked with Pink Floyd’s early albums and there is a classic rock song Us and Them with one of the best saxophone solos in a song. Maybe you should listen to the music more clearly before writing a worthless article and opinion.

  6. M. VanVolkenburgh says:

    Norman Hurricane Smith is one of the greatest unrecognized talents of the 70’s and his music endures. A songwriter and singer whose music should be played today. The world needs to hear him sing his songs. They are about life and love and they can be a lifeline to many people. No there is no foul language or negative message in his songs so one could argue that they are not “modern” in that sense but they are just wonderful timeless songs that speak to the heart and the soul and his voice is a perfect blend of soft deep sounds and gravelly sexy tones. I wish I could find the lyrics to some of his music. I personally have managed to purchase online his albums From Me To You and the Dont Let It Die album. The songs I could not find in I-Tunes for my playlist I downloaded 11 from YouTube. I have some great songs of his to play and enjoy over and over.

  7. Michael Waterman says:

    Thanks for sharing your tribute to Norman Smith.

  8. John says:

    A few months ago, I heard “Oh Babe..” for the first time in at least twenty years, and I immediately started singing along. Such a great, catchy tune! Corny/cheesy? Well, yes, but still a great tune! It’s a throwback song that has a 1920’s stomp groove overlayed with mid century strings, Boots Randolph-style sax, and a raggety vocal that fits perfectly with everything else! My favorite hobby is playing keyboards in a good quality cover band, and now that “Oh Babe” is back on my radar, we’re going to perform it at a big event we’re playing next month…looking forward to it!

  9. Michael Waterman says:

    Glad to hear you love the song. Wishing you big success at your gigs!

  10. Jay Bedford says:

    I’m curious! I’ve looked through many references to this song always hoping to find a reference to the sax player. The sound is similar to that of Jimmy Dorsey on the mid 50’s recording of So Rare. But Britain was well regarded for being the home of great big band and jazz musicians. Ted Heath’s band was proof of that with a great sax section and a trumpet choir that could soar! But I wander. Does anyone know who played sax on that single? JB

  11. Michael Waterman says:

    The answer is Frank Hardcastle. Here is a link with more information:

  12. Michael Waterman says:

    Jay Bedford, here is a clip of Frank Hardcastle playing with Hurricane Smith on the Tonight Show:

    Mystery solved!

  13. Jay Bedford says:

    Thanks Michael… JB

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