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Gather Me

Neighbor 47001
Released: October 1971
Chart Peak: #15
Weeks Charted: 27
Certified Gold: 6/13/72

MelanieThe Melanie cult is a relatively new phenomenon on the music scene that I had not fully understood until I heard this disc. She always seemed like a noisy, tiresome voice coming from a car radio that was tuned to a bad rock station. But I made a promise to sit down and pay close attention to Melanie on this recording, to try to understand the reasons behind the sudden stardom of this bruised young starling with the ramshackle voice.

I did listen, and there is no cause for alarm. Melanie does seem to me, under perfect recording conditions and excellent playback equipment, to be one of the more interesting girl singers around now. She doesn't have much of a voice -- rather like a singing Brenda Vaccaro. In fact, sometimes it breaks down completely and with such cracked exhaustion no recording engineer can bring it back to life. But there is a delicacy and humor behind those hoarse tones, and wisdom, too. Roger Kellaway has done such an excellent job of arranging the mixed bag of material Melanie has written for herself here that every deficiency is beautifully masked by his charts. On the "Living Bell/Light" medley, the voices chant at just the places where Melanie seems to be running out of gas. It is the perfect blend of star and supporting cast. On the wistful "Little Bit of Me," the voice softens to a hoarse whisper that is cradled by a tiny cluster of strings at those moments when Melanie seems to be on the verge of impatience. And on the delightful "Some Day I'll Be a Farmer," the music is a lilting Maypole for Melanie's voice to dance around. There's good hard work on this recording, and the result is polished, professional, and joyous.

Melanie - Gather Me
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
Joy, in fact, might be the key to Melanie. Like the girl in the "Red Shoes" ballet who couldn't stop dancing even when her feet gave out, it might not be possible for Melanie to stop singing even if her voice did collapse. There is such a vital warmth and such aggressiveness to her singing that, even though she's not in the same league with either Laura Nyro or Carole King as a songwriter, there is a joyous response in the ears of her listeners. Melanie is fun to have around, and this new album is her best to date.

- Rex Reed, Stereo Review, 3/72.

Bonus Reviews!

Further reading on
Super Seventies RockSite!:

Single Review:
"Brand New Key"

Single Review: "Lay Down
(Candles In The Rain)"

Melanie Lyrics

Melanie Videos

If you're a Melanie devotee, you've probably grabbed yourself a copy of this album by now. If you're one of those people who summarily rejected Melanie back around "Beautiful People," maybe it's time you had another listen. What she's doing now really deserves your attention. She has developed into one of our premier songwriters, and her voice has filled out to become remarkably assured. Gather Me is an album of surprises. Melanie skips around from introspective "price of fame" songs to happy vocal riffs to unabashed camp, and just when you think you've got her drift, she takes you off in another direction. With some artists this could make for a pretty distracting record, but Melanie has just what it takes to pull it off. "Ring The Living Bell," one of those incredibly vibrant and distinctly Melanie songs, is magic. "Steppin'," about recovering from a lost love affair, is sophisticated and wise; it's easily among Melanie's strongest lyrical achievements. "Brand New Key" stays just this side of being precious, so it's fun. "Some Day I'll Be a Farmer" is a "let's get back to nature" song that really works -- chiefly because Melanie is sincere in her intentions. Remember the old barber shop favorite "Tell My Why"? Melanie drops it in just at the end of side two and leaves you with "Because God made you -- that's why I love you." Melanie's best album since Candles In the Rain.

- Circus, 1/72.

This beautiful package is Melanie's first for the new label. Still produced by Peter Schekeryk, she is at her plaintive best with "Little Bit of Me." The imagery of "Baby Day" explores new depths of awareness. Also incorporated is her latest single, "Brand New Key." Both Top 40 and FM programmers have much from which to choose.

- Billboard, 1972.

Unlike my straightlaced friends, I've always dug the idea of Melanie -- Edith Piaf as Brooklyn waif, preaching the hippie gospel in that absurdly flexible and resonant alto. But I've found the reality cloying. Here she grows up just enough. "Brand New Key" is one of those impossible celebrations of teen libido that renew one's faith in AM radio. "Steppin'" is the best breakup song since "It's Too Late," and though side two slips badly toward the end, she's rarely a simp this time out. B+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Gather Me, the first release on the label founded by Melanie and husband Schekeryk, was a winning effort that housed "Brand New Key" and the equally wonderful "Ring the Living Bell." * * * *

- Christopher Scapelliti, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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