formative years of her career. These
sensitive songs were taken mostly from her
first album and present personal insights
into a complex performer.
Melanie, finding the success she needed to
reach the public in her unique way.
Her hits are here...
and so is; the truth.
personal, interpretations of her favorite
and her favorite songwriters.
This side of Melanie opens even deeper
insights into her emotions...
It shows her whimsical imagination,
yet below the surface they continue to
reflect her serious concern about all forms of
life in her world.
In The Hour
I Really Love Harold
I'm Back in Town
Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)
Peace Will Come (According To Plan)
Carolina On My Mind
Lay Lady Lay
I Don't Eat Animals
As one of the symbols of the flower-power era, Melanie can be
seen in retrospect as reflecting some of the heights of the music
of that period. Who could fail to be impressed, indeed moved,
by the passionate intensity of he inspires revival of the Rolling
Stones' "Ruby Tuesday"? Or her own rueful lament "What
Have They Done To My Song, Ma?" with its nicely understated
sense of menace? With a singularly gutsy-to-tender range and addictively
appealing voice Melanie showed herself capable of imbuing her
own songs, as well as those of others, with a controlled but emotionally
charged power, often effectively edged with a note of shear desperation.
She could make her audience feel that every word was painfully
wrenched from the depths of he being.
Melanie was born in New York on 3rd February 1947 of a Ukrainian father and Italian mother who had been a professional jazz vocalist. Melanie enrolled as a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and, at around the same rime, was writing songs, sometimes performing them in Greenwich village clubs and coffee houses. The story goes that one day in 1966, believing she was about to be auditioned for a bit part in a play, she found herself in the wrong office. There she met recording executive Neil Bogart who offered to hear her sing and play her guitar. He was sufficiently impressed to sign her to Columbia and call in Peter Schekeryk, a budding independent record producer. Her business meeting with Schekeryk led to a rapidly developing personal relationship and then to marriage.
After releasing only singles for Columbia, Melanie signed to the Buddah label in 1968 and in May 1969 her first album 'Born To Be" was released (later that year being repackaged as "My First Album"). It resulted in her being invited to appear at the now legendary Woodstock festival (sub-titled 'Three Days of Peace and Music") in August 1969. The performance given by the diminutive Melanie, with her Edit Piaf style voice and her acoustic guitar, inevitably caught the spirit of the event and endeared her to the crowd, Recording success was now assured. The Woodstock experience inspired what became her first hit single "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)" which, backed with the strong arousing gospel sound of the Edwin Hawkins Singers, reached the No 6 slot in the US charts in April 1970.
Meanwhile, her second album, "Affectionately Yours" had been released as her first LP was quickly re-issued, it was now all happening for Melanie. Her acutely perceptive revival of' "Ruby Tuesday" took No 5 position in the UK, her next album "Candles In The Rain", went into the British charts, stayed there for 27 weeks and peaked at No 5, and her composition "What Have They Done To My Song Ma?" gave the New Seekers a major hit in America.
More success followed and towards the end of 1971, she took the No 1 spot in the US (on the Neighbourhood label newly launched by Melanie and her husband) a novel piece "Brand New Key". It shot up to No 4 in Britain and was, in fact, destined to be revived five years later in the UK when the up-from-Zummerset Wurzels adaptation for EMI, "Combine Harvester" became a number 1 hit. Whilst "Brand New Key" was her most commercially successful song and its parent album "Gather Me" made it into the Top 20 in both Britain and the US, it was released into a world drifting away from the flower-child era, and through the 1970's Melanie's international fame slowly began to fade. Most critics and fans see the late 1960's/early 1970's period represented on this album as her most potently creative period though "Photograph", co produced by Ahmet Ertegun for Atlantic and released in the States as late as 1976 was also well received. There were a few further releases in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s and Melanie has since played at various locations, mostly in benefit concerts, throughout the world.
This present compilation, "The Four Sides Of Melanie", was first released by Buddah as a double-LP in 1972 with the four vinyl sides representing different aspects of Melanie's character and performances, Six of the opening seven tracks originally appeared on one or other of her first two albums. Here you can sample the sensitive heartfelt, writing and performing of her formative years, including the delicately wistful "Beautiful People" which had so readily captivated the Woodstock crowds, The next tracks starting with the deservedly acclaimed "What Have They Done To My Song Ma?", features some of her most significant hits, including 'Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)" which she wrote after witnessing the lighting of candles by thousands at Woodstock in defiance of the drenching rain, the squelching mud and the descending darkness.
Then we have four splendid examples of Melanie's sometimes idiosyncratic interpretations of the work of other major song-writers chosen from five on the original vinyl issue. She brings to Bob Dylan's "Tambourine Man" an appealing evocative and haunting quality, while having a contrasting approach to his "Lat Lady Lay" which realigns, as is it were, with characteristically wilful quirkiness. She gives a comparative straightforward and thoroughly enjoyable rendition of James Taylor's "Carolina on my Mind" and of course, we have her stunning version of "Ruby Tuesday".
The final section of this collection, starting with A A Milne's "Christopher Robin" illustrates her recurring inclination to take capricious excursions into the realms of whimsicality. At such times she seemingly sought to win the hearts of her audience projecting herself as a cute, winsome and essentially innocent little girl. At times this led to rather overindulgent performances as witnessed by "Psychotherapy", one of two tracks from the original album missed off this reissue due to lime constraints. However the last song from this section "Leftover Wine", serves as a well justified reminder that in addition to being a highly accomplished songwriter, Melanie possessed singularly distinctive voice which could be as eloquently gentle and tender as it was passionate, vehement and even strident, all within just one song, That in itself is quite an achievement.