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Cyclone - Melanie

"Cyclone" was the opening track from Melanie's 1976 album "Photograph". Normally the rule for Uncle Stylus is that I can, with the very occasional exception, only use tracks that have appeared on vinyl. A loophole is that I can include tracks that first came out on vinyl but were later rerecorded elementally on another format and this, thank goodness, is one of those.

An interesting thing about Melanie is that, although she may have sometimes seemed a liberal lovey-dovey, she was in fact a tough cookie, always strong, unswerving and passionate about her beliefs. She was also never frightened of pronouncing a past recording as work that could be improved on, something which she did in spades when she produced her "Silver Anniversary" cd in 1993, an album of re-recordings from her oeuvre, which, curiously, was only issued in Germany.

And she was right. The double disc, recorded with only acoustic guitars and vocals, with very occasional percussion and banjo, is a triumph, and most of the cuts are superior to the originals. One of the magical facets of Melanie's music is her ear for backing vocals, whether with her own voice double tracked, or by other singers. In "Silver Anniversary", with only an acoustic backdrop, these come to the fore triumphantly, not least in Cyclone, itself an uptempo rumination on the act of making and performing music, and how the process relates to the artist, reverberating backwards and forwards against her life.

"Hold tight cyclone -

found love in the music but lost in the overtones,

sweat on the brow, blood on the lips, love for the money

and gold at the fingertips, at the fingertips."

The tumultuous and windy backing vocals reflect the tension between the singer/songwriter's inspiration and pain, both of which are never far from the surface of Melanie's music, the glorious rising crescendo affirming that it's ultimately fulfilling and worthwhile. For us as well as Melanie.


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