"This album is for Jeordie and Leilah¾my career for the last two years

when I wasn't really away. Your mommy is the kind of woman who never gets to bed on time.

This morning started off with last night's moon, and the sun gets a rise from the lady

with a tune on the dawn and a baby on her mind."


In her own words, Melanie's music has "grown" in the two years since she last entered a recording studio. With a new record company, new songs, a new band, and most importantly, a new confidence, the Melanie who has "come back" in late-1976 is a mature singer composer of major proportions. Her debut album for Atlantic Records, "PHOTOGRAPH;' released in November, is bound not only to please (and genuinely surprise) her multitude of fans worldwide, but to win over crops of new believers.


Melanie's success in the late-60's/early 70's is hardly a secret, with ten albums and numerous singles to her credit-including three gold records (and even more chart-toppers), plus numerous world tours (including a little-publicized 1971 ten-nation benefit trek for UNICEF which netted several hundred thousand dollars). Less well known are the human desires and frustrations, which have marked her career, especially over the past several years.

The "slowing down" period of the past few years was precipitated by several factors. As Melanie explains, "I wanted to have a family-I really missed not having anybody who cared a lot about me besides Peter (her husband). I kind of started doing less and then I got pregnant and had a baby, and then I didn't really get into making records ...I never really said, `I'm gonna take a break: In fact, it was probably a mistake-if I had said I'm gonna take a break and I'm gonna retire, it would have been more acceptable that I should 'come back; but what I did was I kind of slithered out:' At present, Melanie is the proud mother of two children, aged three and aged 20 months.     

But something else was also happening to Melanie, something that had to do with a frustration-with image, with categorization. Perhaps unexpectedly, Melanie is the first to acknowledge that, as one of the images which blossomed with the "Woodstock Generation,' she had been forced to deal with certain fixed notions about what she is/does. As she describes it, "People like to align themselves with a particular style of music for other reasons than because of their musical taste-it's for the image that music projects, and it's what they want to have as tin image for themselves. People buy certain kinds of cars, certain kinds of shoes, certain kinds of jackets-they want to align themselves with a tweed or with a velvet, a scotch or a beer. It's all what you want to project. And so music is another one of those things. You say which records

you like and that makes you a certain kind of person. I've suffered in the categorization that I fell in ...Yummy yummy, goody goody, Melanie Melanie... So it was very difficult because of that categorizing of a person and freezing you in a moment of time that publicity has a tendency of doing-giving you a phrase and a sentence and a photograph and that's supposed to represent what you are. A person who writes and creates all the time needs more..:' However, Melanie also knew that an artist can't really do anything in a verbal way to change a strong image-'jrou look as ridiculous as the thing they said about you ...So I kind of frustrated myself out of communication for a while:'

Preceding her hiatus, Melanie also found herself being pressured by certain musical associates (long since gone) to do something that works:' "When you've got people around you going, 'well, that doesn't work!: so out of fear (you try) to do something that 'works' their way, that's a killer, that's the end, that would have been the end. Even if I had become successful doing it, I would have been so unhappy doing something I didn't want to do-because it's dishonest ...I'll never again sing anything I don't love ...Nobody creative needs someone who's going to squelch their creativity"

So, for a period, Melanie withdrew until she could present herself in her time„in her own unique way. "The great thing about having gone through this slowing down period, and beginning all over again is knowing that not making it is not the most terrible thing that can happen to a person-you're still alive. There's this thought that had always been in my head before, that not making it was synonymous with dying,. but it didn't work that way-I was still there ...And having gone through that, I'm much less fearful about anything I do ...I don't have any fear about what I say anymore ...I'm up for total experimentation now. It has reinforced my integrity, this whole experimentation:'


Having had the necessary time with her family, Melanie and producer/ husband Peter Schekeryk had entered Artie Ripp's (now her manager) studio in Los Angeles in early '76 to cut some tracks with old friend Roger Kellaway, to have something to show people what she was doing. In February, Atlantic Records Chairman Ahmet Ertegun came down to the studio and heard her sing several songs, including Billie Holiday's "Sweet, Embraceable You" and her own "IF I NEEDED YOU" (which is on the album). It was,



you might say, love at first listen. Melanie: "He was very excited that I wasn't signed to anybody, and he and Artie (Ripp) left the studio and took a ride. Within an hour, they had shaken hands on the deal ...I felt like I was finally in good hands ...I had to have a human being involved. I really needed human encouragement. I didn't just need a record company." After the signing, Melanie did a short tour of Australia/New Zealand. "So I had all this time to think about what I was going to do. Peter came back first, to gather up some arrangers and different things. When I came back from New Zealand, we started work on the album."

"PHOTOGRAPH" was a true evolving process, extending over a six month period. "I decided-I know what integrity is, and I'm gonna have it this time. Nothing happened on this album that I didn't love." Ahmet Ertegun, credited with "Creative Direction" on the album (with production by Peter), took a full, very personal involvement with the album, giving Melanie and Peter total support-with no limits, only goals. He was present at nearly all vocal sessions and most mixes, and also met often with those involved to go over any new or changed arrangements for the music.

While Melanie had continued to write during her "time off," her songwriting increased dramatically after the initial signing decision had been made. "It's much nicer to write when you know people are going to be listening to it. It's very difficult to write when you feel that you're just writing for you and your kids:' As the sessions progressed, Melanie kept on writing new songs which everyone felt had to be included. The LP's surprising up tempo rocker "CYCLONE," for example, was written half way through the process, as was "PHOTOGRAPH," which Ertegun told her to finish for the album. "PHOTOGRAPH" (the LP) also involved the collective efforts of numerous people, from the twenty plus musicians to David Campbell's and Marty Paich's string arrangements to several studios and engineers to Marty and David Paich's co-production assistance.

In the album's extensive notes, Melanie has provided comments, poetry and thank-yous for each track ("I really wanted to tell big stories about everything," she notes, "but that would have gotten kind of crazy."), lending insight into the history and/or thoughts behind each tune. With one exception, all of the album's eleven songs are Melanie originals-the exception being her great version of "THE LETTER" (and also an interpolation of "MUSIC! MUSIC! MUSIC! into the newly-reworked "NICKEL SONG"),

From the LP's opening rocker, "CYCLONE," it is clear that a new-found maturity infuses Melanie's work. The introspective aspect of her

writing has deepened into the ballads of the album, notably "IF I NEEDED YOU," "PHOTOGRAPH" and the striking "SAVE ME." The latter is a story unto itself, as it was completely recorded and- mixed in one day. Having finished the song at six o'clock one morning, Melanie played the sections to husband Peter, who immediately called string arranger David Campbell (whom Melanie calls an "inspired genius"). With the album essentially finished, this was "a one shot thing." They were in the studio by two in the afternoon with 12 string players, another guitarist, and a woodwind player, and the song was arranged by 3:30. When Melanie returned at seven that evening ("I got dressed up that night because I knew something special was going to happen."), the parts were finished and she heard them then for the first time. "We did the whole thing in two takes ... Anybody who was at the sessions will be talking about it for a long time ...It was magical:"

"I'M SO BLUE," dedicated to Melanie's mother, a jazz singer, was actually started 13 years ago. ("I wanted to write a song she could sing."), and it is highlighted by Art Pepper's tasty sax soloing. The uptempo intensity of "RAINDANCE," with its fullbodied chorus and imagery, plus mandolin solo by Robin Williamson, sets a balance for the LP, along with "SECRET OF THE DARKNESS (I BELIEVE)" (dedicated to Bob Cato, who named the song, and who also provided the photographs and design of the album). "GROUNDHOG DAY" is "exactly autobiographical:'

The LP's powerful closing track, "FRIENDS & CO.," sums up the new nature of Melanie-"Do a song for friends and company/Too much is the matter with giving on spite/ Here's one for the giving and the other for free." As she says, with this album Melanie has tried to tear away the old fixed images, the frozen phrases and photographs-"This is it, this is a whole picture, not just one picture:'

Coinciding with the release of "PHOTOGRAPH," Melanie is returning to the concert stage, but with a new twist. For the first time, she is being accompanied by her own band. Composed of musicians mostly from L.A. by way of Nashville, the "Hand-Made Band" is: Dave Doran on all manner of guitars; Jim Drennan on multiple keyboards (piano, synthesizer, orchestron, clavinet, etc.); Jay Wolfe on bass; and Angelo Mauceri on extensive percussion (Angelo is a classically trained orchestra leader, who has also taught at UCLA). Live, Melanie notes that "There's this human thing that I do that gets to people ...It transcends the style of music," as audiences all over the world can testify. And with the release of "PHOTOGRAPH;" Melanie and her audience can only grow in leaps and bounds.






"Are you living here and now

Or in the moments past

Is now tomorrow's memory and will the memory last

How much of this will pass..."

                                                                                      -Melanie, "PHOTOGRAPH"




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