American Female Singer / Song Writers
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Libby Titus: Libby Titus (Released in 1968,Rating 3+)
2. The Fool On The Hill
3.Fancy Dancing Man
5b.Baby Close Its Eyes
B1..Michael From Mountains
2.Here, There, And Everywhere
3.You Didn't Have To Be So Nice
5.Strawberry Fields Forever
6.It'll Never Happen Again
Produced by Gary Klein
Another my favorite female singer...
This is her first debut album. This would not be important record, if there were no her second debut album in 1977. This album is simple pop vocal album with a lot of famous songs. you can easily find the songs of Lennon/McCartney, Paul Simon, Joni Mithchell etc.
Still, this is attractive record because of very cute voice. So young.
Libby Titus: Libby Titus (Released in 1977,Rating 4+)
A1. Fool That I Am
2. Kansas City
3. Can This Be My Love Affair
4. The Night You Took Me To Barbados In My Dreams5.Love Has No Pride B
1. Yellow Beach Umbrella
2. Can't Believe You're Mine
3.Miss Otis Regrets
4.Wish I Could
5.Darkness 'Til Dawn Produced by Phil Romone with Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Robbie Robertson Cover photography Norman Seef
This is Libby Titus's second debut album... Not a typical debut really. While her first debut does not include original songs, here are 4 Titus co-written songs included. (A-1,3,4,5) "Love has No Pride" is very famous song, sung by many artists like Bonny Rait, Rita Coolidge and Linda Ronstadt etc. Yes, she became famous as a song-writer since her first record in 1968. There are famous people appear as producers.
This album's mood is very intimate and personal. It is like remembering the first love. Thinking about the lover who doesn't stay with you, imagining what she/he is doing or thinking now. etc. etc. Very pure feeling. And also very mature. This might be contradictory. But if you hear this record, it sounds very natural. I cannot explain well.
You should hear this! There was a Japanese CD edition, but out of print now. But the LP version is rather easy to get at the eBay auction.
One more information about Libby. She was a long-time girlfriend of Levon Helm, and is a wife of Donald Fagen. She co-wrote "Florida Room" in Fagen's "Kamakiriad"(1993).
Judee Sill: Judee Sill (Release in 1971, Rating 5)
4.Lamb Ran Way With the Crown
6.Jesus Was a Cross Maker
8.My Man of Love
9.Lopin' Along Thru the Cosmos
10.Enchanted Sky Machines
11.Abracadabra Produced by Henry Lewy, John Beck and Jim Pons
Hermine, Cristina, and Libby Titus. So, my next imagination slips into Judee Sill. What do they have in common? Not a musical style definitely. They only issued two albums. And I have the strongest desire to hear more of Judee Sill music. Only two... There is a rumor of third album called "Tulips from Amsterdam"(1979). It is also listed on Judee Sill's page in AMG. But there seems to be no person who ever saw/heard this third album. The consensus among Sill's fans is that the 3rd album is a phantom which was made by the collective strong desire to hear more of Judee Sill music. So, this is one of the precious two.
There is also a consensus among Sill's fans that we do not have to know about her life. It doesn't help to enjoy more of her music. Music itself is a matter. I agree with this opinion. If you like to know her biography, see AMG page. Her music is absolutely beautiful, unique, and comforting. It soothes your soul, I say.
What does this sound like? This is hard question because it is a unique music. But this should be called, contemporary folk/singer-song-writer music. The closest musician might be Joni Mitchell.
Every song is a classic. I wonder why she is so little known. There is a Japanese CD edition. And I heard the CD will be released in the US in the future.
Judee Sill: Heart food (Released in 1974, Rating 5)
1.There's a Rugged Road
4.Down Where the Valleys Are Low
6.Soldier of the Heart
8.When the Bridegroom Comes
Produced by Henry Lewy and Judee Sill
This is the second album of precious two Sill albums. The first one was great. But this is absolutely great. No word to say more.Buy this. As for the availability of this record is same as the first one.
If you hear two of her records, you surely start wondering if there is a 3rd album. Sorry, as I said above, it does not exist. But, there is a site which collects her unreleased tracks and live recording in MP3. Visit here.
Ronee Blakley: S.T. (Released in 1972, Rating 4)
2.Sleepin' Sickness Blues
4.Down to the River
5.Gabriel B1.I Lied
2.Along the Shore
4.Cock O' the Walk
6.Graduation Tune Produced by Robert W. Zachary, Jr.
Another two album singer, Ronee Blakley.
I first knew her name on the credits of Bob Dylan's Desire (1976). Then, I was very much impressed by the duet with Leonard Cohen in Death of a Ladies' Man (1977). And I also found her in Dylan's movie Renaldo and Clara (1978). She was playing the role of Mrs. Dylan in the movie!
She was a favorite of Dylan and Cohen in the 70's. She was a talented singer/songwriter. She wrote all songs in her two albums. And she could sing very impressively. But she could not get the appreciation that her talent deserved. I don't know why. It is another mystery why she released only two albums, and she almost finished her musical career. If she had kept making records, she could have been Emmylou Harris or Jennifer Warns, though I think Blakley was more talented than them.
It is hard to describe Ronee Blakley's music. It surely is a country music. And it is also a singer/songwriter music. It is not ordinary that the country singer sings her original songs. So, this mixture of country music and singer/songwriter music may bring something new and unique. But I feel more than it from her music. It is a deep feeling of nostalgia and longing. In this debut album, we can hear these essence of Blakley in simple musical style.
Ronee Blakley: Welcome (Released in 1975, Rating 5)
2.I Was Born to Love You
6.She Lays It on the Line
2.If I Saw You in the Morning
4.Need a New Sun Rising
5.Locked Behind My True Love's Door
6.Welcome Produced by Jerry Wexler
The second and last album of Ronee Blakley, three years after her debut album.
The second album was produced by Jerry Wexler at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. So, naturally, musicians such as Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett, David Hood etc appeared. So, the album sounds more delicious. Also, her song writing got more matured in this album. One of the perfect "American" album for me.
In the same year of the release of this album, she appeared on the Robert Altman's Nashville (1975). She played the part of the famous country singer. We can see Blakley singing some of her songs in the movie. This movie appearance seemed to catch the attention of people, particularly movie making people. So, she became a movie star not a music star.
She had been married with Wem Wender since 1979 to 1981! (Blakley appeared in Wenders' Lightning Over Water (1980).) Wenders loved American movies very much, and he, himself, tried to make the American movies such as Paris, Texas (1984), Hammet (1982) or The End of Violence (1997) etc. They are very American movies that few American director make nowadays, and they are also very European movies at the same time.
Something difficult to describe in Blakley's music may be similar to the American movies made by Wim Wenders. Blakley, born in Idaho, was playing very American country music. It was so pure and natural that it gave another impression of something far away from ordinary American music. This complexity made her music difficult to get wider audiences. Her music was too American to be understood by Americans.
Michelle Phillips: Victim of Romance (Released in 1977, Rating 4)
A1.Aching Kind2.Let The music Begin3.Victim of Romance4.Trashy rumor5.There she GoesB1.Paid The Price2.Baby As You Turn Away3.Lady Of Fantasy4.Just One Look5.Where's Mine Produced by Jack Nitzsche
So, you began to know my taste. You know why I pick up this record. Yes, I like this record because of the cover art. (Some might think I am sexist orientated. But it is not my crime to make all these lovely covers. I only love them...) Moreover, I like the inside too.
Michelle Pillips was a member of the Mamas & the Papas. She was a symbolic figure of the group, but not a musical leader. She is famous as an actress after the disband of the group. (I don't know how famous she is as an actress. Is she famous as a TV star in the US?) See this page for her biography . (This is a good analysis of her image in social context.)
This is her only one solo album. For me this is the "California Dreaming" album. I was dreaming about beautiful California girls, hearing this record. I knew it was only a fantasy. The sound is seemingly "typical" West Coast, but it is imaginary West Coast sound. I have been searching for the records with same kind of taste, but I couldn't.
In short, this record sounds like its cover art!
Genevieve Waite: Romance Is On The Rise (Released in 1974, Rating 3+)
1.Love Is Coming Back2. Transient Friends3. Times of Love4. Trashy Rumors5. Slumming on Park Avenue6. Biting My Nails7. Danny8. White Cadellac9. American Man on The Moon10. Girls(Bonus Tracks)11. Mr. Blue12. Pink Gin and Lime13. Femme Fatals14. Saying Goodbye Produced by John Phillips
Genevieve Waite was born in South Africa, and had worked as a model and an actress in the movies, and married John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas in 1972, and released this album. This is the typical career of my favorite singing-actress! But it is not the main reason of picking up this album. This is the must-have album because this makes the perfect pair of my favorite album, Victim of Romance (1977) by Michelle Phillips. ( I have 2 LPs and 1 CD of this album, wondering why there is no other album of Michelle Phillips.)
John Phillips married Genevieve Waite after having divorced Michelle Phillips. According to the liner note of the CD edition, the wedding party was held at a Chinese restaurant in L.A., and Michelle Phillips was invited to the party. (Michelle and John seem to have kept their friendships after their divorce.) While Romance is on the rise between Genevieve Waite and John Phillips, Michelle Phillips was the victim of romance! And Trashy Rumors, composed by John Phillips, is featured in both albums. Both albums feature the sexy photos of singers, hand-colored monochrome photos.
For these gossipy interests, I've been interested in this album, but couldn't get this because this has long been out of the print. Now, it is finally available on CD! (By the way, Michelle Phillips' Victim of Romance is available on CD in Japan, but never released on CD in the U.S..) At the first hearing, the singing of Waite sounds too sweet and sexy; it reminds me of Marilyn Monroe.
I don't mean that I don't like Marilyn Monroe's singing. On the contrary, I love it. She is my ideal singing-actress. My first impression of Waite was the easy copy of Monroe. But, after hearing some more tracks and hearing the album all over again, the impression improved a lot; Waite has her own charm. Her seemingly artificially-girish-singing is actually not so artificial, but it is rather natural. Her singing and the music in the album is nostalgic good-old-American music, some taste of early jazz music. (As a bonus track, Femme Fatale of the Velvet Underground is picked up, but it is not a very exciting cover.)
Yes, music sounds just like an album cover, a nostalgic pin-up girl photo. (At first looking, the cover art is somehow embarrassing, but the impression improves after hearing music.)
Carole King: The Carnegie Hall Concert - June 18 1971 (Released in 1996, Rating 4)
1.I Feel the Earth Move
3.After All This Time
4.Child of Mine
5.Carry Your Load
6.No Easy Way Down
7.Song of Long Ago
10.So Far Away
11.It's Too Late
13.Way over Yonder
15.You've Got a FriendÝ performed by King / James Taylor
16.Will You Love Me Tomorrow [medley]Ý performed by King / James Taylor
17.(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman Produced by Lou Adler
You might think I am mainly picking up the minor artists. So, you might wonder why I pick up Carole King. I'm just picking up my favorite records, but I don't tend to focus on the big stars. (There are already many information on them.) So, why Carole King? Because she might be too famous and too popular to be taken seriously.
This record exactly captures the moment King suddenly became the representative figure of the early 70's. This is the recoding of the concert just after Tapestry (1972) was released . And it was the homecoming concert for this New York born singer-song-writer. Apparently, King was a little nervous at the beginning of the show. She was not accustomed to play in front of the big audience. She had long been a song-writer, not a singer. She played 6 songs just by herself with her piano. Then, the bassist, Charles Larky and the guitarist, Danny Kortchmar, joined. The atmosphere gradually got relaxed. There are many friendly musical conversation between them.
The highlights for me are 3 tracks with strings quartet. Eventually, Way Over Yonder, Beautiful. When I first heard the strings came in on Eventually, I was very much moved and almost dropped tears. After this highlights, there comes James Taylor. King and Taylor sing together You've Got a Friend and Will You Love Me Tomorrow (medley).
It is easier to get the essence of King in this album because this may be the first unplugged record. King's singing is very much influenced by R&B, though sometimes her singing gets unstable. She is sometime thought not as a good singer, but I think her singing is just delicate; I think she is a good singer. Very soulful in her own way.
So, why rating 4, instead of 5? It is mainly because of the sound quality. It is not bad quality, but there is a slight distortion in the middle high range. It is better hear this with not expensive audio system.
BTW, did you hear King's recent album, Love Makes the World (2001) ? This is also a good album. Wonderful to find her great talent in song-writing and in singing again.
Laura Nyro: Live The Loom's Desire (Released in May 2002, Rating 4+)
Disc 1 (1993 concert)1.Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby
2.Dedicated to the One I Love
4.Lite a Flame
5.Walk the Dog and Light the Light
6.To a Child
7.And When I Die
8.Japanese Restaurant Song
10.Wedding Bell Blues
11.Art of Love
13.Let It Be Me Disc2 (1994 Concert)
1.Angel in the Dark
3.Save the Country
6.A Woman of the World
7.The Decent of Luna Ros
9.Blowin' Away/Wedding Bell Blues
10.Trees of the Ages/Emmie
11.Ooh Baby, Baby Produced by Laura Nyro, Executive Producer; Eileen Silver-Lilywhite
This is one of the last works of Laura Nyro (1947-1997). Live at the Bottom Line in New York on Christmas Eve of 1993 and 1994. There is only Laura Nyro on vocal and piano, accompanied with female harmony group. This format reminds me of Gonna Take a Miracle (1971), which is my most favorite Nyro's album.
Performing on Christmas Eve in New York, her hometown, was a tradition for Laura Nyro. And the performance on Christmas Eve in 1994 was her last performance in New York. (The ovarian cancer took her life away in 1997.) If you are a fan of Nyro, you need to hear this, just knowing this information.
Actually, for me, this live album is one of the best Nyro's albums. So, pure, intimate, soulful and powerful. Unbelievable, is this really the last concert? (The cover photos of Nyro looks very young, maybe 20 years younger than the age. There is little difference between the photo of Gonna Take a Miracle (1971). )
Gillian Welch: Revival (Released in 1996, Rating 4+)
3.Pass You By
5.One More Dollar
6.By the Mark
8.Tear My Stillhouse Down
10.Only One and Only
Produced by T-Bone Burnet
"Alternative country" is the best words to describe the music of Gillian Welch. You might imagine what her music is like, just by reading this, and just by seeing her album covers. Her music is based on the old time American country, folk, blues music, and her composition has a sense of modernity. It is like female-REM singing acoustic folk song. Or, her music might be like Bob Dylan's The Times They are a-Changin' (1964) . It describes the lonely life in small town, maybe in the north.
This record seems to be located on the edge of so-called country music. But "lonely" is often the keyword in conventional country music. If loneliness, isolation, nostalgia, and some small hope are the essence of country music, this record stays in the center of the country music. Here is America, not very cheerful or joyous, not talkative or brave, but individual and reflective. It might be a continuation of the lonely individuals still searching for America, sung in America by Simon and Garfunkel. (But, Welch's lyric is descriptive about people in poverty and loneliness. It is not the loneliness of poetic, well-educated young person sung in S & G song.) It might be a continuation of the musical journey searching for America made by the Band.
I came to know her name by her song Orphan Girl, which appeared on Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball (1985). I was attracted by her songwriting, and I bought this record as soon as it was released. Her version of Orphan Girl was more impressive than Harris' version. And I also love Paper Moon. Pedal steel and electric guitar and simple drum is very impressive after hearing simple guitar/vocal songs in this record.
This record is most played by simple acoustic guitars and voice, but sometimes backed up with electric guitars and national guitar etc. Her following albums, Hell Among the Yearlings (1998) and Time (The Revelator) (2001), are more simple and stoic guitar/vocal album. If you like Revival, you surely like them, too.
Tish Hinohosa: Homeland (Released in 1989, Rating 4)
2.West Side of Town
3.Donde Voy (Where I Go)
4.In the Night
5.Love Is on Our Side
6All My Love
7.Till You Love Me Again
8.Voice of the Big Guitar
10.Who Showed You the Way to My Heart
11.Let Me Remember
Produced by Steve Berlin
Going to Mexico. It is a theme often sung in American music. Some examples:
Way down here you need a reason to move / Feel a fool running your stateside games / Lose our load leave your mind behind / Baby James/ Oh, Mexico / Sounds so simple / I just got to go (Jamese Taylor; Mexico)
Mexico City is like another world / Nice this year they say / You'll be my senorita / In jeans and pearls / But first let's get off this highway (Donald Fagen; Maxine)
She said why? / Why don't we drive through the night / And we wake up down in Mexico / Oh - I don't know nothing about - nothing about - Mexico / And tell me why / Why won't you love me - For who I am - Where I am / He said: Cause that's not the the way the world is baby / This is how I love you, baby (Paul Simon; Hearts and Bones)
Mexico is the close foreign country you can go there by driving through night, you can be free there.
Tish Hinohosa, born in Mexican family in San Atonio, sings songs of America/Mexican border, often America watched from Mexican side. Her major debut album, homeland, starts with Joaquin. It is a song of Mexican boy who tries to cross the border, dreaming about the good life in America:
Joaquin shed a tear for the treason / But who'd hear his desperate cry? / He learned to speak English from tourists / And reading by kerosene light / He couldn't afford education / But something burning inside / He heard things were good in America / And that's what he had been on his mind /.../ Joaquin loves his homeland / But it can't give him enough / He wants a good life, a job, and a wife/ And some children with dreams that come true
She sings this in a "Joan Baez" like beautiful voice in a mellow melody with Mexican taste. (Bob Dylan once said to Joan Baez,"I don't like your voice." I am using "Joan Baez" in this sense. It is beautiful and moving, but sometimes monotonous.) Homeland is full of stories of Mexican people who crossed the border and simple straight love songs. They are well mixed with Mexican music taste. Mexican music sounds joyous but there is a sentimental feeling inside. The mandolin sound of Joaquin really sounds nostalgic and sentimental.
Joni Mitchell: Travelogue (Released in 2002, Rating 4+)
Disc11.Otis and Marlena
3.You Dream Flat Tires
6.Slouching Towards Bethlehem
7.Judgement of the Moon and Stars
8.The Sire of Sorrow (Job's Sad Song)
9..For the Roses
11.God Must Be a Boogie Man
2.Just Like This Train
4.Refuge of the Roads
6.Chinese Caf/Unchained Melody
9.The Last Time I Saw Richard
11.The Circle Game Produced by Larry Klein and Joni MitchellThen your life becomes a travelogue / Full of picture-post-card-charms / Amelia, it was just a false alarm ("Amelia", joni Mitchell)
The orchestra backed self-cover album of Joni Mitchell. The last album of Mitchell, Both Sides Now (2000), was also Orchestra backed standard songs, including two self-covered songs. Though it was a nice album, I wanted to hear more of her self-covered songs. So, this album satisfies my want a lot. And this is so great album. (I can almost rate this 5. But there are much greater albums that Mitchell made, I leave 5 for the other albums. ) I just can say that this is a great album, and that you should buy and hear this. This is all I want to say. But, I write some more about song selection of this album.
This album starts with Otis and Marlena. This is rather modest starter. At first looking at the song selection, I thought this was not "best-of" selection. There seem to be more hidden-treasure songs than hit songs. So, I start wondering what are so-called "best-of" songs of Mitchell. First, I gathered the track list of her seemingly "best of" albums, Hits (1996) & Misses (1996). And I found out these albums are not well balanced selection of her famous songs. Then, I looked at her live albums and video, Miles of Ailes (1974) , Shadows and Lights (1980) & Painting with Words and Music (1998). These live albums seem to be with better balanced song selection. Then, I compared songs in Travelogue (2002) with these lists, and found that 12 songs are not from "best-of" or live albums. (They are colored in red in the list below. The blue ones are the tracks which appeared in each column. For my surprise, Woodstock appears in every live albums. And I found out the song titles are sometimes changed.)
Another interesting point about the song selection is that there are many songs from Wild Things Run Fast (1982). I'd been thinking that this was not a great album for a long time. For me, Joni Mitchell had been one of the front runners of creative musicians. When the musical world was covered with New Wave in the late 70s, she was one of few "Old Wave"musicians who kept receiving the respects from New Wave listeners. When I first heard Wild Things Run Fast (1982), I got the impression that this was rather conservative pop music. She seemed to be retired from the frontline. But when I heard it recently, I found this was very good album, full of beautiful songs. I realized that I was not listening to the music itself in 1982, I was listening to the meaning of music.
So, let's hear this without any prejudgment. You'll see how great her songs are. And you will re-discover the greatness of her lyrics. (You can read her lyrics in a CD extra file with music. You can also see her paitings there.)
Original Studio Album Songs in Hits (1996) & Misses(1996) Songs in Miles of Ailes (1974) , Sadows and Lights (1980), & Painting with Words and Music (1998) Songs in Both Sides Now (2000) & Travelogue (2002) 1968 Joni Mitchell (Song to a Seagul) Cactus Tree (Mi) The Dawntreader 1969 Clouds Chelsea Morning (H)Both Sides Now (H) Both Sides Now (Mi) Both Sides Now (B) 1970 Ladies of the Canyon Big Yellow Taxi (H)
Woodstock (H)The Circle Game (H)The Arrangement (M)
Real Good for Free(I)Big Yellow Taxi (Mi,P)Rainy Night House(Mi)
Woodstock (Mi,S,P)Circle Game(Mi)
Woodstock The Circle Game 1971 Blue Carey(H)
California(H)A Case of You (M)River (H)
A Case of You(Mi)Blue (Mi)All I Want (Mi)Carey(Mi)
The Last Time I Saw Richard(Mi)
A Case of You (B)The Last Time I Saw Richard 1972 For the Roses You Turn Me on I'm a Radio(H)For the Roses (M) You Turn Me on I'm a Radio (Mi)Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire (Mi)Woman of Heart and Mind (Mi) For the Roses.Judgement of the Moon and Stars 1974 Court and Spark Raised on Robbery (H)
Free Man in Paris (H)
Free Man in Paris (S)
Just Like This Train (P)
Just Like This TrainTrouble Child 1975 The Hissing of the Summer Lawn Harry's House /Centerpiece (M)
In France They Kiss on Main Street (S)Edith and the Kingpin(S)Shadows and Light (S)Haryy's Home(P) 1976 Hejira Hejira (M) Coyote(S)Amelia (S,P)
Hejira (S,P)Black Crow (S,P)Furry Sings the Blues (S)Song for Sharon (P)
AmeliaRefuge of the Roads
1977 Don Juan's Reckless Daughter Dreamland (S,P) Otis and Marlena
1979 Mingus The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey(M) Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (S)The Dry Cleaner from des Moines (S)God Must Be a Boogie Man (S) God Must Be a Boogie Man 1982 Wild Things Run Fast Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody (H) Moon at the Window(P) Chinese Cafe /Unchained MelodyYou Dream Flat TiresLoveBe Cool 1985 Dog Eat Dog Dog Eat Dog (M)Impossible Dreamer (M) 1988 Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm The Beat of Black Wings (M)The Reocurring Dream (M) 1991 Night Ride Home Passion Play (When All the Slaves Are Free) (M)Nothing Can Be Done (M)Come in from the Cold (H)
Night Ride Home (P) Slouching Towards BethlehemCherokee Louise 1994 Turbulent Blue Sex Kills (M)The Magdalene Laundries (M)
Sex Kills (P)The Magdelene Laundries (P) Sex KillsBorderlineThe Sire of Sorrow (Job's Sad Song) 1998 Taming the Tiger Crazy Cries of Love (P)Face lift (P)
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