Singer/songwriter Melanie Safka was a huge star for around 18 months in 1970/1, a period when she was rarely absent from the US singles chart.
Born on February 3, 1947, in the Queens area of New York, she lived in Long Branch, New Jersey, as a teenager, before attending the American Academy Of Dramatic Arts.
By 1967, she had signed a publishing contract with Peter Schekeryk, who later became her manager and also her husband, but her initial record deal produced little in the way of success. However, she had begun to write excellent songs, and her luck changed dramatically soon after she was signed by Buddah Records in 1969. A song she had written and recorded, "Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma?", became a hit in France, perhaps partly because one of it's verses was written and sung in French - "Ils ont change my chanson, Ma?" - and a cover version by the New Seekers was a hit under the title "What Have They've Done To My Song, Ma?" in both the US, where it reached the Top 20, and in Britain. In 1971, The New Seekers followed up that debut US hit with two more chart entries, both featuring songs written by Melanie, "Beautiful People" and "Nickel Song". By then, Melanie had registered her own US hit single with a song she wrote after appearing at, and being inspired by, the Woodstock Festival: "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)", which made the US Top 10, and later became a notable part of the stage act of British rock band Mott The Hoople. Fronted by the charismatic Ian Hunter. Melanie followed up this breakthrough with another hit, "Peace Will Come", before perhaps her most memorable single of that early era, her unforgettable cover version of "Ruby Tuesday", the Rolling Stones hit, which became her UK Top 10 debut as well as reaching the US chart.
At that point, Melanie was extremely popular all over the world, and was regarded by millions as the finest female-singer/songwriter of the era - her concerts, attended by adoring audiences whom she would invite to sit on the stage while she performed, became internationally famous. She was still sharing the stage with dozens of members of her audience when she performed at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1975, and there might have been a hundred or more of her disciples sitting at her feet as she sang her songs with a child-like innocence which many still find irresistible. This innocence, combined with her passionate vocal style, made Melanie a role model for many young women in the early 1970s; her essentially gentle approach, which seemed to be tinged with an inner strength, captivated the hearts of her many female fans, as well as those of their escorts, who tended to be rather gentle themselves.
Sadly, this substantial commercial success inevitably had to come to an end, although Melanie's unique talents were still obvious to anyone who heard her records or saw her concerts. She and Schekeryk formed their own record company, Neighbourhood Records, and while her first single on her own label, "Brand New Key", was a huge international hit, topping the US chart and selling over a million copies, she was never again able to equal its success. Not that she had completely stopped having hits, as "Ring The Living Bell" proved in 1972, but inevitably , fashions in popular music tend to change as frequently as the wind, and in that year, the tide turned for Melanie, and her popularity with record buyers, which had previously made her a million-selling performer, suddenly declined as her audience discovered new stars like Rod Stewart.
Melanie Safka is still a star, but these days her domain is the concert hall rather than the recording studio. Many of her original fans still go to see her perform at venues around the world, knowing they will feel uplifted by the tragic "Ruby Tuesday", the triumphant "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)" and the wistful "Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma?", as well as her excellent versions of contemporary classics like the Bob Dylan songs, "Lay Lady Lay" and "Mr. Tambourine Man". Melanie remains one of the great live performers, her passion and emotions having no room for misunderstanding, yet at other times her seemingly naïve innocence breaking the spell. Nobody has ever been quite like Melanie, so it is very fortunate that she recorded a solid body of music in her purple period from 1969 to 1974, before she apparently abandoned the idea of recording for major labels. This album contains her biggest hits from her golden era, as well as a choice selection of favourite tracks from such classic early 1970s albums as "Candles In The Rain" and "Gather Me" (both certified gold) and "Leftover Wine". This was how Melanie's records sounded just over 20 years ago, and it remains unequalled.
Note: This CD has 20 tracks crammed on it, which reduces the quality by a substantial degree - Don't buy it!
I don't know who John Tobler is, but he sounds like a waffling die-hard Buddah man .
BoBo's Party was the first hit in France.
Royal Albert Hall was Oct 1972 as part of the UNICEF World Tour..
There was a cancelled concert there later - Melanie still turned up and performed outside!
Rod Stewart was doing rather well, way before Melanie!
"Brand New Key" sold over two and a half million copies!
I don't think Melanie performs "Lay Lady Lay" on stage.