On Monday, 16th October in a Fulham Hotel an interview was held in the evening.
It started an hour late and lasted for about two hours.
"I think up until now I've always been this little kid next door - all sugar and spice. I mean I never have been, but I can see that's the way it came out."
It may sound pretty condescending to say Melanie's grown up. I
mean she's 23 years old now and she's been married a couple of
years and all those trips out into the desert didn't just give
her a whole new batch of songs each time
But when it comes
to her new album "Stoneground Words",
her new expansion as an artist through it, the new status it's
going to give her as well, it's almost as though she gained maturity
The outward image hasn't changed much since last time she was
here - before the spring. She's still the owner of a soft face
and a melting pair of brown eyes, she still looks vulnerable even
though she probably has more resilience than a lot of us. No,
it's through her work the change has become most noticeable -
her recorded work in particular (her appearances on stage still
hold that peculiar and often mystifying magic, that lure to an
audience of enormous fragility and reverent adoration).
Melanie's in town this week for two concerts as part of her UNICEF world tour and to preview much of the material on the new album. She's very buoyant on Monday night. Peculiarly so since London normally has a very bad effect on her. Normally she feels beaten up when she's here, weighed down and exhausted by what the city does to her.
On Monday she's flown straight in from Copenhagen and although she's obviously tired from the protracted business and effort of a world tour she's unusually sparkling and buoyant. Last time she was here she seemed rather concerned and certainly aware of her image and the way people outside of her normal following viewed her. It's been a struggle she's been involved in for many years. She feels now that although it was no deliberate move on her part -- "Stoneground Words" has done a lot to shake that image up a bit.
"It took all of Spring and Summer to get it organised
and I really didn't consider it was a very different style of
work to anything I'd done in the past. It just so happens - probably
because of Roger's (Kellaway)
arrangements - that the end product make me sound as though I've
come to a different bend in my career."
"I was only worried about my image in the light of turning people off. Look I really like the Carpenters but I can see that if I was a kid on the street I'd never own up to that. What that lovely warm wonderful family! -- no way."
It seems more likely that it was the combination of Melanie - her husband and Roger Kellaway - who saw a new maturity to her work and voice and worked on it to knock down all the existing barriers. Certainly after the songs were written there were weeks of talks and counter suggestions, with Kellaway moving in and working at the sound he wanted to give her:
"Peter and I and Roger had real weekend frights. I originally wanted "Together Alone as a 20 minute song to take up the whole of the first side. Peter tended to be the stabiliser. I think if there is a difference to my work now then it's that my background is coming out more, the kind of music I was brought up with. I don't think the actual songs are that different, though I could be too close."
At this stage in the proceedings a sudden halt is called in the conversation. Melanie --- pink fur jacket flying - has seen a stray black cat. With a saucer of sardines and another of milk supplied, the cat remains close to her skirt and refuses to budge.
Consequently, it's decided that orphaned and hungry he will be
transported back to America with her. After the initial flurry
we get on to her UNICEF tour. Melanie's
the first non-establishment artist to ever do this kind of stint
for UNICEF - all the money from her concerts
going to the charity to help children all over the world.
"I always felt UNICEF was one of the few charities that didn't rip people off. It's very idealistic and I can't help thinking how many people would like it dissolved, especially the UN because it takes up so much money. When they asked me to do the tour the first time, about nine months ago, I felt I was in need of something to donate my time to. I suppose it's made me feel that what I was doing as an artist had some meaning.
I'm not making any great stand on stage during this tour. I think it's a small help that by coming they are giving their money to UNICEF and I'm reaching people that maybe haven't given any thought to the charity before."
"You know," she says suddenly before being dragged off to have her photo session,
"this thing about growing up It's funny but belonging to the public is very strange. You do respond to them exactly as you do as a kid to your parents. Without meaning to, you want to please them and go their way . Maybe that's why I did the music I did in the past - and maybe in a strange way that's why I did this new album the way I did it."-----
Note: Melanie was 25 years old and married 4 years I believe.
The cat decided not to emigrate -DJB