Sydney Sun-Herald, 1982.

 

MELANIE BRINGS BACK FLOWER CHILDREN

 

If nothing else, Melanie Safka's latest album has the effect of bringing back memories of the flower children of the late 60's.

The message of the period was soft, full of love for mankind and hope for the future. If any voice summarised the flower child feeling it was that of Melanie - haunting at times, sometimes saccharine and usually romantic.

Her biggest hit on these shores was Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) written in 1970.

It referred to Woodstock, that musical gathering of the flower-peace movement which suprised everyone with its success and which, despite many attempts to rekindle the flame, has never been equalled.

Lay Down was - and I suspect will remain - Melanie's best effort, despite some stellar moments on her last major release Photograph, and earlier commercial success with Jagger and Richards' Ruby Tuesday, and her own  What Have They Done To My Song Ma, Leftover Wine and Brand New Key.

 

Certainly there is nothing on her new album Arabesque (Mercury ----) to match the success of those just mentioned.

Suprisingly, Melanie's voice has changed little in the decade since we first heard work from her ; maybe that will be sufficient for the nostalgia market.

No, the voice has no shortcomings. It's just that this colection of 11 tracks contains nothing to challenge her extensive vocal range. Possibly the power of the  flower movement has faded, too.

 

At least on Arabesque Melanie offers a range of styles - ballads, a bit of country, gentle rock and rockabilly and one track with a little reggae thrown in. Certainly this illustrates the lady's musical adaptability, but to this reviewer it seems a little bit like a dabble here and a dabble there, with nothing that really hits the spot.

 

Best track for me is one penned by Barbara Keith titled Detroit or Buffalo. It's the one that is more like the Melanie we once knew than any of the others.

Two other tracks Melanie has written, When You're Dead and Gone and Too Late, are my choice of best of the rest.

But, overall, Arabesque is a dissapointment. That voice can do much better than this. 


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