Nov 1971

Brand New Key

single reviews

unknown source

Although Melanie is capable of delivering the most potent and intense material with utmost effect, her recent releases have all been light-hearted and flippant. Her last disc "Alexander Beetle" was good fun, but I never expected it to be a hit, as its appeal was directed too narrowly at the very young. This is another novelty song - about a girl who shuns driving a sports car in favour of zooming around on roller skates - but this time it's aimed at a wider market, because there's also a romance angle.

It's jaunty and lively, with a bouncy beat and a catchy hook chorus, and there's a male group singing along in the refrain.

It's the sort of song only Melanie could get away with - and she does it with charm and expertise. An extremely entertaining exercise, particularly suited to the coming season.

unknown source
Galumping Melanie puts on her Wellies and bounces along the street with her dolly. My dad says your dad couldn't hit my dad. Boo boo. I likes Melanie. And when I'm grown up. I'm going to marry her….

unknown source

Lovely line: "Some people say I've done alright for a girl" which should please Germaine Greer and certainly made me smile a bit. In fact this whole track has a lovely tongue in cheek quality to it - right down to the sort of Jordanaires-type back-up male hoop-hoop vocals. From Melanie's new album "Gather Me" and produced by her husband, Peter Schekeryk, it has all the hallmarks of being a monster single, especially as it has the same integral feel, not only of her usual street sparrow tone, but of Joni's "Big Yellow Taxi"….

unknown UK source

From her own US label but still with Buddah here, Melanie's latest little girl voice outing is a port catchy little ditty (with even some subdued Rock 'n' Roll harmony backing) which just might charm its way Chartwards. Good…..

unknown UK source

And for a time anyway, you can still find Melanie on Buddah, despite the apparent upheaval over labels in America. Not that that's got anything to do with the music. This follows really too quickly on that delightful EP of children's songs, including the delectable "Alexander Beetle" and will probably kill the later's chart chances, slim though they were. It's from the new album and actually keeps the kindergarten mood. Here it's roller skating and other junior pastimes, sung happily with occasional snatches of falsetto and a real flashback deep-voice male choir going doo-doo-doowah at appropriate moments. Taken at a jogtrot the melody is easy to remember, the rhythm constant and simple and the whole thing's very effective, but not a hit….

unknown US source (supplied by Kim Gargano)


BRAND NEW KEY Neighborhood [US, 1] [Buddah Britain]. Written by Melanie Safka. Released in the U.S.A. in October 1971 and Britain in December 1971, this went to No 1 for three weeks in thc U.S.A. and No 3 for one week in Britain. It stayed for 18 weeks in the U.S. charts and 10 weeks in Britain.

Melanie Safka, born 3 February 1947 in New York City, is of Ukrainian/Italian parentage. Her mother was a jazz singer, and her father ran a chain of discount stores. Melanie played guitar when quite young. The family moved to New Jersey where Melanie attended high school, but she ran away to Los Angeles for a while until her father took her home. She returned to school and left at the age of 19, with a degree from the American Academy of Dramatic Art, which she attended for two years deciding to sing for a living. Arriving in New York she sang and played guitar in city bars for six months. Offered an audition for a small part in a play, she walked into the wrong office - to find herself facing record producer Peter Schekeryk. He asked her to play and eventually encouraged her to move on to Buddah Records after Columbia would not let her record an album. With Buddah she had all her success.

Schekeryk became her manager and her husband. From 1969 Melanie recorded several albums for Buddah - 'Born to Be' (1969); 'Affectionately Melanie' (1969), 'Candles in the Rain' (1970); 'Leftover Wine' (1970); 'All the Right Noises' (soundtrack) (1971), 'Good Book ' (1971), 'Four Sides of Melanie' (1971 ) 'Garden in the City' (1972). She had singles hits with 'Ruby Tuesday' and 'What Have They Done to My Song, Ma?'. In 1972 she formed her own record label, Neighborhood Records and her 'Gather Me' album was released in October also the single from it, 'Brand New Key'. Both were big successes, both the album and the single receiving R.l.A.A. Gold Disc award for million sale on 16 December 1971. It sold over 250,000 in Britain and 2,500,000 globally by July 1972.

Melanie's other albums for Neighborhood were 'Stoneground Words' (1972), 'At Carnegie Hall' (1973) and 'Madrugada' (1974). Buddah released 'Please Love Me' in 1973. All her albums had good sales on both sides of the Atlantic.

'Brand New Key' is described as 'a highly refreshing and innocently delivered tune with much lyrical meaning, and an engaging ode to the joys of skating and generally riding around'. Melanie actually started writing songs at school when she was 15. Many of her songs are simple, covering a wide range of emotions and situations. They have a constantly recurring themethat cities stifle people and create sadness- and that people should return to the countryside to a simple uncomplicated way of life. She gave annual birthday concerts in N.Y. for her devoted fans. (Like Kim)

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