Nov/Dec 1972 - Jan 1973


Album Reviews

by Andrew Means. Melody Maker 4th Nov 1972

The precocious little girl image that Melanie so often integrates into her live performance rarely finds its way onto records. In fact that part of her character appears to be fading slowly in all aspects of her work.

The change finds a counterpart in her music. The new album is perhaps the most sophisticated she's made. The essence remains, the emphasis on communal relationships is still quite evident. But the way she expresses her feelings has grown.

The naiveté of "Beautiful People" and the streaks of self pity have been replaced by deeper, more comprehensive methods of expression.

Fatalistic songs like "Together Alone" and "Summer Weaving", not to mention her thoughtful version of Pete Seeger's "Rainbow Race", have a touch of philosopher poet in them. The songs are combined with fine, sympathetically moulded arrangements, and the excellent visual presentation of the album makes it a very satisfying launching for her new label.

There's a magnificent daub of self glorification involved. Six beautiful queensize colour shots of Melanie, printed lyrics and a very attractive label design

Neighborhood Logo

by Rob Mackie. Record Mirror 11th Nov 1972

This is the album Melanie had the time and freedom to make as she, and her husband/producer Peter Schekeryk would have wanted. The difference is considerable, from earlier Melanie records - far more time has been taken in both songwriting and the recording. It shows, particularly on the single "Together Alone", with a very good girls' chorus, showing the possibilities of Melanie's other voices, as hinted at her collaboration with the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Not all of the songs are as good by any means, but it is well worth listening to, and ought to do extremely well in view of the gap in releases….

By Charles Shaar Murray. New Musical Express 16th Dec 1972

What's your official position on Melanie these days?

Do you find her wimpoid, sloppy, outrageously childish and an asinine waste of time?

Or alternatively, is she the last repository of the virtues of good ol' flowerpower, love, trust, purity, belief?

Well, when you've got the 'flu, Melanie IS a lot easier to take than when you're at the height of your powers and praying for some good old pile driving crazedness.

This album is …. Well, it's kind of nice, you know? Ten songs, nine by the Safka herself, and one by Pete Seeger. A trifle over-arranged, and more than a little corny, but very soothing. All in all, possibly the most enjoyable Melanie I've heard, far more mature and purged of many of the more cloying qualities of her earlier stuff. That incurably earnest squawk has become far more varied, though her voice still affects me like fingernails on a blackboard. But songs like "Together Alone", "Summer Weaving", "Do You Believe" and "Song of the South" are genuinely affecting. Nobody has ever doubted Melanie's sincerity, or questioned the depth of her feelings, but now at last she seems to have surmounted the problem of communicating that sincerity and those feelings. I doubt that "Stoneground Words" is going to form a large part of my musical life, but just the same I'm glad I heard it.

People who like Melanie will have no problems with "Stoneground Words", but people who don't dig her may well find that the rift between them and Miss Safka ain't as wide as they think. Ain't 'flu a wonderful thing?….

by Rosalind Russel. DISC Jan 1973

Melanie's first two albums contained really nice material, but of late the lady appears to have floundered in a quagmire of self pity, soul searching and downright agony.

She doesn't even match up to a previous description of a female Leonard Cohen impersonator, because Cohen's revelations are at least more subtle and he sings marginally better than Melanie.

A couple of her songs lift themselves from the tedium to a state dangerously near happiness - "Do You Believe" and "My Rainbow Race" - but in the same way as her light-hearted ditties of yesteryear.

Perhaps the innocence in her appeal is growing a little thin, or my ears more sensitive, but her voice seems to be getting harsher and it's made worse by the repetition of some of the lines in her songs.

She bases most of her numbers on this formula, but repeating a line that's not musically strong anyway isn't going to do the song much good.

Her live performances, I feel, are more convincing than her records, as she has a kind of stage presence that can make itself felt to an audience, but I can't see any of the tracks on this album matching up to her other successes. ** (Fair)

Writer Unknown. Melody Maker Jan 1973

Lonely Lady

This is a sad album. If you stripped away the music, and hid all the instruments, then the words alone would reek of pretty lonely misery.

Due to Melanie's habit of 'bouncing' songs out you can be fooled into thinking they're happy rainbow and honey items - I mean that's what snides think Melanie's all about.

There's nothing wrong with rainbows and honey - they make a tidy breakfast. But that WAS Melanie, and now people have got to accept that the little lady suffers many moods - no, make that mood, singular, and make that mood loneliness.

Sure, there's a couple of singalong ditties, but they're smothered with a blanket of songs that hit you as being stark, raving lonely.

With these songs she struggles in a musical sense - her words ain't written to be sung in rhythm, neither are they written as being 'instant' entertainment.

For the first time she's come up with verse that needs thinking about - and to be quite honest, THIS Melanie is, on face value, somewhat boring.

Singer-songwriters are allowed to be 'most personal' these days - so are album reviewers, and I've got a hangover. What I mean to say is that a songwriter is now allowed to really spill it all out. Melanie does, and as I say, on first hearing, it's boring. Play it again mind, and it's lovely.

Do we really want to know just how lonely Melanie feels? That's the testing question. My answer now is Yes, we do. Why? Well, because she's talented, and because she's interesting, and because for me - and many others - she has a habit of moving you.

This album is now moving me, and I feel, will move me even more.

Many weaving songs, and I feel they are weeping songs too. "Between The Road Signs" is the 'straight' Melanie, joggy, and fun, and instant - but that's the only one. The rest - well, something to think about….and enjoy.

Unknown source US
Melanie keeps developing, her songs still mainly autobiographical but more complexly reflective of her persistently questioning life and ambivalent times. Stoneground Words (Neighborhood Records) is a new stage for this woman with the wit and experience to say, "I don't want much, but I need an awful lot."

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