MELANIE – Ballroom Streets – (Tomato records) – 1978

Melanie - Ballroom Streets

Regular readers of this blog would know I have a thing for Melanie. She is one of my favourite chick singers in rock and pop.

For those not up to speed on Melanie, or only know Melanie from her early 70s efforts check out my other blog entries.

This album is relatively obscure and comes at a time when Melanie had lost her earlier "hippie" (for want of a better word) audience.

In the mid 70s Melanie had flirted with some disco soul sounds, soft rock, contemporary rock and some jazzy torch singer sounds and this album was perhaps the culmination of that.

The sound is slick, and tight with a lot of beat and more than a few danceable grooves … and I don't mean the imitating a tree in the wind type dancing that one would have done to Melanie's music five years earlier

Melanie sang her old hits and threw in a few new songs but used jazz, soul, blues, and funky  rock arrangements on all the songs.

What is interesting is she decides to do it in front of an audience.

The albums is essentially a live album though recorded in the studio with only a small audience (an audience of 30 people).

According to the engineer: "I'm so glad to see that people enjoy this record as much as all of us who made it did! My name is Michael Laskow, and I engineered Ballroom Streets. It was extremely unusual in the way we recorded it. It was in fact done live in the studio with an audience of people who won a contest at a local radio station in Miami.

The band played live with the audience members sitting on the floor, often mingled in and around the band members while they played. We rarely overdubbed anything, and virtually all of Melanie's vocal's were done live (which is all but unheard of!).

I had to mix the PA system in the room for the audience, watch the levels going to the 24-track tape machine, do at least two separate mixes for the floor monitors that fed the band members their mixes. I honestly don't think anybody in any era has recorded an album in quite the same manner. Dealing with the sound bleeding from one instrument's microphone to another is something that is normally handled with iso booths, and lots of moving blankets ad gobos (sound iso panels that get rolled around a studio).

For this record, we had VERY limited gear by today's standard, and had to use a lot of physics to calculate musician, microphone, audience, PA monitors, and band monitor placement to get the best possible isolation. Just isolating Melanie's incredible voice from bleeding into her acoustic guitar mic would be more than most engineers would care to deal with …"

http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3A6KYB4K4KUMS/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B000003321#R3A6KYB4K4KUMS

So, Melanie may be playing it safe by redoing her hits, but is taking a bigger chance by redoing arrangements and playing that in front of a live audience.

The only way for her to save the day it to perform the hell out of all the songs.

And, she does.

Melanie's voice and her interpretive skills as a vocalist never let her down.

All songs by Melanie unless noted.

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side A

  • Running After Love  –  Very slick but very catchy.
  • Holdin' Out  –  a slight calypso beat sneaks in but Melanie's voice is perfect.
  • Cyclone / Candles In The Rain  –  an interesting coupling. "Cyclone" is in your face and "Candles" is heavily re-arranged compared to the original and not at all subtle. It all works though as an electric gospel shouter.
  • Beautiful Sadness  –  a new song – bluesy & wonderful

      Side B

  • Do You Believe  –  screeching guitars abound but it somehow doesn't offend here.
  • Nickel Song  –  not as cutesy as the original and the song needs the cute.
  • Any Guy –  Is some cynicism and sadness creeping in or is the voice just older?
  • Look What They Did To My Song  –  A great song. Again she plays with it but it's still great
  • I Believe (Secret of the Darkness) – Backing Vocals by The Persuasions. Another gospel shouter

      Side C

  • Poet  –  a dramatic ballad
  • Save Me  –  a delicate folk number.
  • Together Alone  –  nice but slight …
  • Ruby Tuesday – (Keith Richards – Mick Jagger) – always a crowd favourite. Here it is given the BIG treatment and Melanie always did it big anyway … it works.

      Side D

  • Buckle Down  –  A new song. And a good one.
  • Miranda – (Phil Ochs) – a great Phil Ochs song beautifully done by Melanie.
  • Brand New Key  –  Melanie's other famous "cutesy" song … it doesn't come off here.
  • Groundhog Day – a great song and one that shows of Melanie's voice perfectly.
  • Friends & Company – a show stopper …

And …

No overdubs, done live … this gal can sing. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

Running After Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1isZI0ytcc

Cyclone / Candles In The Rain   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIo2yaZsMHw

Beautiful Sadness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DJzodtGmN4

Look What They Did To My Song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYXUBRqt6yE

I Believe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqqXvx6e6wQ

Ruby Tuesday

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeriaOFX6fA

Buckle Down

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7sZ0hh-xuI

Friends & Company

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlp3wmE4bbI

Miranda

Live – memorial for Phil Ochs 1976

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H3Y0EGgbvE

Johnny Cash and Melanie – Silver Threads & Golden Needles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqDmc1MTBKo

Melanie and Miley Cyrus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX9A5vv-jOM

Review

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballroom_Streets

Bio

http://www.melaniesafka.com/

http://freespace.virgin.net/robert_ian.smith/Melanie.htm

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/melanie-mn0000409670

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanie_Safka

Website

http://www.melaniesafka.com/home

http://melaniemusicsociety.tripod.com/

Trivia

 

          Melanie - Ballroom Streets - back sleeve          Melanie - Ballroom Streets - gatefold           

About Franko

Hi, I'm just a person with a love of music, a lot of records and some spare time. My opinions are comments not reviews and are mine so don't be offended if I have slighted your favourite artist. I have listened to a lot of music and I don't pretend to be impartial. You can contact me on franklycollectible@gmail.com though I would rather you left a comment. I also sell music at http://www.franklycollectible.com Cheers
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