Another Melanie album?
Actually there hasn't been one for a while.
Where is the rock n roll I can hear some one say. Where is the garage? Where is the in your face music? Fuck it, at the very least where is the hard edged pop?
Behind me in a box.
The truth is I get into these Melanie moods which is good 'cause, short on time today , I need to pump out a comment pretty quickly.
And I've done some Melanie comments before so I don't have to dwell on backgraound.
After a day mowing, pruning, digging and generally getting dirty Melanie's rustic folk singer songwriter tunes are just what are needed to unwind. Well, her and a glass of red (a "Montepulciano" from Abruzzo, Italy – good work Lorenzo). This rustic red really lends itself to Melanie's music.
Melanie and a glass of red …I like that idea.
This music is sipping music and I quite like that – I don't think you can do shots to Melanie though I know some punters who would try.
Melanie here sticks to the same sounds she had been putting out for the previous five or more years … the semi urban hippie chick, guitar in hand, observing and singing about the world. The problem is that, despite some master strokes, the world was changing and she was not getting the same returns (chart wise or audience wise).
She would broaden her sound over her next two albums, "Photograph" (1976) and "Phonogenic – Not Just Another Pretty Face" (1978) which are great (see comments on this blog) but commercial success would not return.
This album then, is the last of "old Melanie", and it's not without it's joys (those songs that point towards the "new Melanie") but it's getting a little tired.
All songs written by Melanie Safka, except where noted.
Again it was Produced and Directed (Directed?) by Peter Schekeryk (Melanie's husband).
Tracks (best in italics)
- Yankee Man – (Jesse Winchester) – Yankee Man" by Melanie is a cover of Jesse Winchester's "Yankee Lady" from 1970 and the gender switch does not effect the song. Winchester was still a US exile in Canada (having avoided the Vietnam draft in 1967)but was quite popular with his country-ish, sensitive singer songwriter songs. He gained amnesty in the U.S. in 1977 (along with many others) and returned there in 2002. As it turns out he died on the morning of April 11, 2014, at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- You're Not a Bad Ghost, Just an Old Song – standard Melanie – never bad actually quite good but it has something missing.
- Record Machine – Melanie always recognised her position in the record business as this song demonstrates. It's quite melancholy and though short on words quite perceptive.
- Eyes of Man – all Melanie's stylistic preferences are here.
- Stars up There – the child like, wide eyed innocence persona here …and it is persuasive.
- Don't Think Twice, It's All Right – (Bob Dylan) – The magnificent Bob Dylan song which has been done by everyone. I prefer it as a "I don't give a fuck" jaunt but the purity of Melanie's voice and precise diction lends emphasis to Dylan's perceptive words.
- Sweet Misery – nice but hardly distinctive.
- Monongahela River – ditto
- Yes Sir, That's My Baby – (Gus Kahn) – Melanie like covers out of left field but Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn song from 1925 which was a hit from Eddie Cantor is certainly unusual in this company. Perhaps she was taking a page out of the Jim Kweskin or Leon Redbone songbook.
- Autumn Lady -Any song with "Autumn" in the title is going to be melancholy and this one is. But it works.
- Chart Song – Beautiful …well sung and quite moving. Recorded live (apparently – you can't tell) at the Theatre Royale in London, England.
- As I See It Now – Ethereal romance with a choir of backing vocalists almost trips into silliness but is redeemed by Melanie's perceptive lyrics.
It's not atrocious but it's not great. Still, any Melanie is better than no Melanie. I'm keeping it.
Nothing no where
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
a crazy interview (the interviewer is actually a Dutch actress pretending to be Japanese). Melanie is in the dark but at least she goes along with it in good humour.
- Backing musicians Mike Heron and Robin Williamson were members of The Incredible String Band.
RIP: Jesse Winchester