How many Melanie albums do I have that I have not listened to before?
Feel free to groan if you don't like Melanie.
This is not a Melanie blog but I find myself playing a lot of her music because I know what I'm going to get, more or less.
That is not criticism – that applies to most acts whether it be the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed or U2.
That is what they do and there is comfort in that.
By 1983 Melanie was well and truly no longer a chart force despite having some pleasing and powerful singer songwriter albums.
The 80s did not lend themselves to singer songwriters in the charts – unless they were overwrought, narcissist and only inward looking. The decade, in the mainstream, was about flash and cash. Emotions were superficial and worn on the sleeve. It was the first decade where mainstream music was infinitely less interesting than the music from the alternative, indie or non mainstream charts.
But if you were a charting act there is an expectation to remain in the charts. Chart success means more records, more touring, more shows and maintaining your family in a certain lifestyle. Many an "older" act ruined themselves (or a t least sullied their image by jumping on the "now" sounds without really understanding or knowing what the "now" sounds are.
Mainstream record labels run by old farts still hoping for the Beatles to reform or the next Pink Floyd opus certainly didn't.
But sometimes you don't see what is staring you in the face.
Much, well a bit, of the underground 80s was dedicated to a revival of sounds from the 50s or 60s. The "Paisley Underground" bands in California mined 60s trippy sounds. The Jam and other in England exploited R&B and soul. For a while it seemed that everything indie was influenced by The Doors and The Velvet Underground. ^0s and 50s sounds kept bubbling through in indie acts who "made it" as well as those who didn't: think The Romantics, The Knack, Robert Gordon, Dwight Twilley, Green on Red, The Long Ryders, The DBs, Nick Lowe …
You would think that an actual artist from that era, like Melanie, could capitalise.
But, perhaps, in the days pre the internet with an industry run by old farts it's sometimes difficult to see what's happening.
The mainstream dictated that the sound should be clean, big, bland, and up-tempo.
And, that is perfect for the 80s …. clean, big, bland, and up-tempo….even though the world is collapsing under the weight of Reaganism, Thatcherism an imploding totalitarian states.
Melanie jumps on board for some Bonnie Tyler, Jefferson Starship type action.
But it is testament to Melanie (at least on this album) that she doesn't seem totally convinced of her new direction.
She keeps elements of her signature 70s sound and when the album sticks to that it succeeds.
See my other comments for biographical detail.
All songs Melanie-Peter Schekeryk unless noted.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Didn't You Ever Love Somebody – This is very familiar mid 70s Melanie and it's not too bad.
- Every Breath Of The Way – This is an up-tempo song but with a pleasingly, for me at least, sound that could have come from 1974 given it is driven by a rocking acoustic guitar. It is quite infectious and anticipates The Proclaimers and other acoustic rock songsters.
- Lay Down Sally – (Eric Clapton) – very catchy cover of a song off Clapton's "Slowhand" (1977) album. Who would have thought that Melanie has made Clapton palatable to me.
- Lonesome Eyes – (Peppi Castro) – wtf? – screechy electric guitars. Melanie tries to go "contemporary" here. By that I mean mainstream "contemporary" from a older established act. This doesn't sound like anything new coming out in 1983 but it does sound like a 70s act desperately trying to sound relevant. There were many of them and unfortunately Melanie has bought into it. Lame
- Dance To The Music – not likely. Rubbish.
- Apathy – yehhhhh, contemporary. It's not to bad but ultimately, blah.
- If You Go Your Way – very catchy
- Lovers Lullaby – the old school Melanie sound …but not overly memorable.
- Nickel Song – (refrain from "Music Music Music" by Bernie Baum and Stephen Weiss) – I believe this is the same version of the song from Melanie's "Photograph" (1976) album. Was she really short on songs? In my comment on that album I said "Melanie is in her familiar cutesy voice though, lyrically, the song is not cute at all. An excellent bouncy jaunt which is more than a little cynical"…and that remains the case.
- Lovin' The Boy Next Door – Melanie's pre-adolescent daughters (Leilah and Jeordie) do backing vocals and give the song a Melanie, circa 1969, feel.
Not great but when Melanie sticks to what she knows it's pretty good …. I'm keeping it.
1983 Every Breath Of The Way #70
Every Breath Of The Way
- This album was, apparently, a European only release ( on Neighbourhood Records). The version I have here is Australian and on RCA's Powderworks label and has a shuffled track listing. The sleeve also different to the English (both versions) and German releases.
- "Lovin The Boy Next Door" appeared on "Cowabonga" (1989) and "Precious Cargo" (1991).
- "Every Breath Of The Way" and "Didn't You Ever Love Somebody" were later re-recorded for Melanie's next release, "Am I Real Or What" (1985), and a live version of "Apathy" was included on the "On Air" (1997) album.