Friday, December 11, 2009

This week I have been mostly listening to….

.... Marlena Shaw.

I should have been doing this thirty odd years ago. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know of her. Robbie Vincent used to play “Yu Ma/Go Away Little Boy” back in the day (well, my day at least) – I loved that – and I had a 45 of hers, “Love Has Gone Away”*, which I adored, and still do. So, the clues were there, so to speak. I think at the time there was something about her jazz inflected vocals that left me not totally convinced I could listen to a lot of her. Maybe my tastes have matured over the years and suddenly I have moved from a stance of "Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?" because listening to her again recently it finally sunk in that her music has hidden depths, and she has a gorgeous voice. It was "Just A Matter Of Time".

I picked up her Anthology CD in a charity shop for a £1 earlier this year, and have also recently found three of her albums out there in blogland, which have resulted in my wants list growing even longer. Listening to these I think the telling thing is that even though some of her material may not be instantly accessible, and in some cases possibly even appear slight or average in composition, Marlena’s voice and her interpretations really make me listen and grow into the songs.

Her albums are like a luxury box of chocolates – on first look you think maybe not all will be to your taste, but no matter which one you select they all melt in the mouth (or, in Marlena’s case, the ears) and demand to be consumed slowly and savoured.

Marlena Shaw - Loving You Was Like A Party (mp3) 1974
from Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?

Marlena Shaw - You And Me (mp3) 1976
from Just A Matter Of Time

Marlena Shaw - Look At Me, Look At You (We're Flying) (mp3) 1977
from Sweet Beginnings

* "Love Has Gone Away" came from the LP "Just A Matter Of Time" as did "Think About Me". To think at the time I passed up on a chance to have that track in my life. It's a stone cold classic and should have been a massive hit (too good to be a hit). Possibly the best use ever in a song of a pause (just before the chorus comes in). Thanks to Sounds Of The Seventies for finally alerting me to this track.

And, sorry, the following may seem totally incongruous in a post devoted to Marlena Shaw, but it has to be done (especially for UK readers). Christmas is just around the corner, so imagine it's Christmas Day and you’ve had the box of chocolates and this is a little stocking filler:

Quite probably the first and only time that Marlena Shaw and the Fast Show's Jesse will appear on the same page!


Ravel said...

Thanks for these very enjoyable tunes.

el said...

Marlena is great !.
I don't understand the "Jesse"-tape. Is that the commercial where "California Soul" is used for ?
Greetz, El (The Netherlands)

Darcy said...

Hi El.

There is no connection between Marlena and the clip. Although I can see where you are coming from
about the commercial where I think you mean Kentucky Fried Chicken.

You probably have to have lived in the UK to appreciate that the Fast Show (from which Jesse’s Diets comes) was one of the greatest comedy programmes ever (in my opinion) and gave us lots of catchphrases. One of them being “This week I have been mostly…..”. So the blog title “this week I have been mostly listening to…” was inspired by Jesse and I just had to include a clip.