Editor’s note: In this recurring column, music writer Chris Duncan suggests two albums to listen to this week. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @chr_dunc, and your pick might appear in next week’s article.
Candles in the Rain — Melanie
Melanie Safka’s first two records were intriguing but unsuccessful. Her attempts to combine all of her influences and thoughts into one work often resulted in clutter and confusion.
It wasn’t until Safka’s performance at Woodstock that her music began to gain national attention. The festival provided a spark that inspired Safka to record her third album, Candles in the Rain.
Candles in the Rain features some powerful tracks, including “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).” The track, which features backing from the Edwin Hawkins Singers, is an artistic expression of Safka’s emotional performance on stage at Woodstock.
While Safka is thought to be a singer-songwriter, her interpretations of other songs are some of the best moments on this record. Her recreation of The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” is completely separate from the original. The entire album continues with this trend of a newly confident Safka, making it her most successful release in her 48-year career.
Tracks to listen to: “What Have They Done To My Song Ma,” “Alexander Beetle,” “Ruby Tuesday”
Fear of Music — Talking Heads
New wave music has never been a financially prolific endeavour, but that never deterred the Talking Heads from exploring the genre. Their previous two albums saw critical success and would later be recognized as some of the best alternative albums of all time. Most bands would attempt to capitalize on their success with another record of a similar style, but the Talking Heads chose to start from scratch with Fear of Music.
The opening track, “I Zimbra,” an African-influenced experiment, sets Fear of Music’s tone and, in terms of style, proves it’s far from previous Talking Heads releases. An eerie feeling looms over each track as an ominous sound persists throughout the entire record. Lead singer David Byrne’s humor is practically non-existent, with his lyrics taking a darker tone while he rambles.
Overall, the entire record feels uneven and rough, but perfectly befitting of the style of the Talking Heads, making this a must-listen for alternative and indie fans.
Tracks to listen to: “Cities,” “Life During Wartime,” “Drugs”