May 1971

The Good Book

unknown sources

On this record Melanie sings on-key more than she ever has. The songs are all about the same……..

It annoyed me to some extent to see an excellent rock 'n' roll magazine dismiss this new Melanie album with one piffling, cynical little paragraph.

Okay, so it's hip to ignore this little lady, and like most hip things, that train of thoughts strikes me as childish and pseud to a sickening extent.

Well, now that's over with, I'll go out and say what another delightful album this is. I can understand to a certain extent why Melanie is stripped bare for criticism - maybe it's because of the sentimentality, the pretty song, or the imagery that could easily be conjured up by the eyes of a child.

Melanie's songs contain all these things - plus a diary of what is happening to her now. To all extents and purposes they are honest, and at a time like this, it seems stupid to rap honesty.

I find "The Good Book" the most soul searching of her collections yet. She becomes a little depressing at times, but it's the sort of depression I can associate with. Then there's things like "Babe Rainbow" - the most beautiful song on the album, and one of her most thoughtful compositions to date. "Birthday Of The Sun" is another warm, cuddly song, and "Nickel Song" is really what it's all about.

Melanie may still be a flower child, and maybe a symbol of charismic youth - yet I dig her songs - and what on earth's wrong with sun and flowers anyway?……

MELANIE: "Babe Rainbow," from the album "The Good Book" (Buddah).

Oy, Oy, those Peruvian pipes again. God, I know who this, but I'm not sure. Is it Melanie? Oh yes, she's grown up. It was difficult to recognise the voice; 'cause she sounds a lot more mature. You know I had a strange thing about Melanie. I heard her first album, and really totally flipped over her. I thought she was the answer to Nina Simone

But then I played it almost non-stop for about two weeks, ant it fell down an awful lot. The way she sang " Tambourine Man " didn't come over. It's just that little girl voice I can't stand it gives me a twitch. She can sing some beautiful songs though. This is nice She can put over things well at times, and I absolutely adore the arrangements on her albums, really nice lyrics as well. I've never seen her live and she's probably very good, but on record her emotion and feeling to me lacks truthfulness. It's sometimes too full of instant emotion, and I tend to question that. I always get the feeling that basically she's very lonely, I mean she's always singing about the boys going out, without her.

As I thought would happen, Melanie Safka-a disarmingly autobiographical Singer-Composer-has greatly expanded her audience in the past year. If you 'listen to Leftover Wine (Buddah), recorded at a Carnegie Hall concert, you arc quite likely to be drawn into her singular microcosm in which passion and rueful wit arc combined with a tenderness and candor that make you want to know her, and through these songs, you do. Melanie, as predicted here some time ago, is on her way up, high up. But, in The Good Book (Buddah), she remains her contrary, candid, sweet-and-sour self-a young, very American Edith Piaf.

The Good Book is her prayer: "Write us a book of instruction or signs and if it's been written then give us some time. Recite a poem or sing us a song, and tell us you love us so we don't feel alone." She goes on, "Poor little fairy kids out on their own, they run to the festival to show that they were one. They've fallen in love with all human kind, so tell them you love them . . .


Of Pain


THE GOOD BOOK: Melanie (Buddah BDS 95000). Is she complex or just erratic. She contradicts herself all the time, turning from cynic to paranoiac to starry-eyed sentimentalist, each time passionately sincere. And then, once in a while, she says something actually wise, and you wonder whether all this other stuff has been a put-on, which it hasn't.
    It doesn't matter. That there should be someone who sings like that and that there is music for her to sing is all that counts. Lots of people find Melanie's voice is irritating. They are unlucky. They will never know that so many unlovely elements-the raspy voice of a French chanteuse, a pure Bronx accent, a plunky, elemental, nylon string guitar-could merge into something unique and intriguing. Her singing is broad and dramatic, pure theater. She sings of pain and partings in glides and gasps and wonderful eccentric phrasing. Melanie makes it so real. Could anybody lie to you in that accent?
    And then the occasional trace of universal tragedy. "The saddest thing under the sun above is to say goodbye to the ones you love." Sentimentalism or simple, honest truth? Blessed is the listener who doesn't identify. Sometimes Melanie is an observer. "Poor little hairy kids," she writes.

They've fallen in love with
all humankind,
So tell them you love them
so they don't change
their mind.

    And there, in essence, is our revolution: masses of kids who only want to be loved. It's all food for thought and songs, as are all Melanie's experiences with audiences, with the music business, with living. She incorporates them and packages them forcefully into songs which turn into albums.

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