Totally Biased Fan Review: Melinda Does Doris….Again – The Movie Songs – Melinda Schneider

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This is not a country music album…though Calamity Jane may argue that point. However, it is an album by one of the very finest Australian Country Music artists in our music history. As a fan, I have been very lucky to be accepted into the country music family in Australia. I have some very close connections in the industry, purely because of their generosity. My country music friendship with Melinda Schneider is one that I am very proud of. Absolutely chuffed, in fact, and I will support her and cheer her to the ends of the earth. She has even recorded my favourite Australian Country Music Album ever, “Family Tree”.

What I love most about Mel’s music is that she has such a great range. She can sing anything. Country, Jazz, Blues, Rock, even a disco yodel! Not many folks have her range. A couple of years ago I gave her the Kazzie award for Entertainer of the year. In that year, she recorded and toured with Beccy Cole with the Women in Country, wrote and performed her own life story on stage and did the now infamous Doris Day shows. Um, I think that says it all.

Melinda recorded the Melinda does Doris album in 2010 (which I reviewed previously) – it is hard to believe that it was 6 years ago. She has sinced toured the show, which is a beautiful tribute to Doris Day. I have seen the show 4 times in several versions. I loved David Campbell’s quote about threatening to hit her over the head if she didn’t record the songs. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that.

When one of my favourite Aussie singer/songwriters decided to do a show about one of my fave performers of all time, it was just heaven for me. I could see the show a thousand times and it wouldn’t be enough. I was so thrilled when she said that she was releasing a second album. The first one topped the Jazz charts.

One of the hardest things to do would have had to be to choose the songs. I own every Doris movie, apart from a couple that are hard to get on dvd. I have enough material to suggest to Melinda for a third and fourth album. Doris made lots of movies that weren’t musicals, but of course, she sang the theme song to many of those.

 

The songs:

Overture: The Deadwood Stage, Sentimental Journey, Everybody Loves A Lover, Que Sera Sera, Secret Love (Instrumentals)

 

Shaking the Blues Away (Love Me or Leave Me): The movie which features probably Doris’s finest dramatic performance. This song is surprising uplifting in a movie which is quite deep and meaningful. Melinda explodes on to this album with a powerful and happy song.

The Very Thought Of You (feat. James Morrison) (Young Man with a Horn) – One of my favourite songs of all time. It never fails to make me cry. Melinda does Doris proud on this song. It features the wonderful James Morrison who is one of our finest musicians of any genre.

Young At Heart (feat. Tom Burlinson) (Young At Heart) – I fell in love with Tom Burlinson many years ago when he rode a horse down a mountainside in The Man From Snowy River. He is one of my favourite Aussie actors and I am so proud to be an Aussie when I know that he is one too. He can sing the roof off any theatre. Teaming him with Melinda is gold. Awesome song and awesome duet.

Just Blew in From The Windy City (Calamity Jane) – Melinda has not been shy about the fact that Calamity Jane is her favourite Doris movie and it is a favourite of many. She sang a few on the previous album and here she goes for the more upbeat song about Calamity’s adventures in the big city.

Moonlight Medley (From On Moonlight Bay and By the Light of the Silvery Moon) – I have these two movies on video. Yes, video. I have actually taped one of them several times as they are worn out. They are unusual movies in some respects, quite different to some of Doris’s other ones, full of nostalgia (even when they were made). Doris’s co-star in the movies, Gordon MacRae, starred with her in many films. Sometimes it is hard to know where Doris finishes and Melinda starts…probably the best compliment that I could give Ms Schneider.

Pillow Talk (From Pillow talk) – the boppy theme song from one of Doris’s most famous movies with one of her most famous co-stars and good buddy, Rock Hudson. Always catchy.

Hey There (Pajama Game) – I was in the chorus of this production in 1979 at Tamworth High School, which in the history of things was very apt. I know the movie and stage musical off by heart. This is usually a duet, (performed in the movie by Doris in a reprise mode and John Raitt who sings to a playback of his own voice.) Amazing song. I have always loved it.

King Chanticleer (By the Light of the Silvery Moon) – Interesting choice by Melinda. It does have a country flavour and when she sounds most like Doris. Upbeat and fun. Love the notes in the credits that Mel does all of the animal calls.

Love Me or Leave Me Medley (Love Me or Leave Me) – Back to Love Me or Leave Me. If you have never seen this movie, do yourself a favour. It is one of the most incredible performances by Doris and a movie which is not always easy to watch because of its tough content, but it is an incredible movie and it has some great songs, done to perfection here by Melinda.

With a song in my heart (Young Man With A Horn) – On the first album, Melinda did some slightly different arrangements of Doris songs. This album has some different ones too. This is one of them, with a slightly different, more jazzy/bluesy feel and slightly more up tempo than the original. The orchestral arrangement is fabulous and Melinda sings her lungs out.

There Once Was A Man ( with Rohan Browne) (Pajama Game) – another PJ special. One of the most difficult songs to sing in the history of musicals. Both Melinda and Rohan do some incredible vocal gymnastics on this song. It is a fun song, one of the great musical duets.

Tea For Two (with Mary Schneider) (Tea for Two) – A classic song sung more times than most musical classics. Lovely to hear Melinda’s famous yodelling Mum, legendary Mary Schneider, sing on this track. I think that it was a perfect vehicle for these two. I did a tap dance as I listened. Some very traditional sounding backing vocals as well which makes it an undeniable treat.

Just one of those things (Lullaby of Broadway) – Melinda is a big fan of scat, and I have heard her do some in her shows (not Doris ones). Like her Mum, she is incredibly versatile.

Bonus Track:

I’ll be home for Christmas – Interesting choice for bonus track, and Melinda does a lovely rendition.

I am not going to mince words here, or say anything that you wouldn’t expect one of Melinda Schneider’s greatest fans to say. This woman is incredible in many ways. Her versatility, style, grace, respect for one of the world’s finest ever entertainers and her incredible talent are factors that make her one of our most legendary artists in her own right, let alone in the way that she honours Doris.

Melinda produced this album of much loved Doris songs with some wonderful help from some amazing artists and music geniuses like Jeff McCormack, and MD Michael Harding.

I hope that Melinda keeps writing and performing her own songs, something which she does so well but I also hope that she keeps producing quality tributes like this one. We are blessed to have her. If you get a chance to see and hear Melinda in any genre, then you are a lucky person.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Warnings & Wisdom – Jen Mize

 

I first heard Jen as a support to one of my heroes, Iris DeMent. I had been informed by one of my best muso friends that she was worth a listen. Hell yeah. Sadly, I didn’t get to her launch on Thursday. I am sure that it was a great gig. These songs certainly suit the Django Bar. Shane Nicholson is all over this album. He has been a busy boy of late. A large serving of Americana here. On Itunes it says – Blues, but that is too limiting. Every song is different, a loyal servant to the beautiful voice of Jen Mize. This is lazy Sunday music, late night with a Merlot. A sensual, soulful album with the right ingredients. Moody and meaningful.

The Americana/Alt. Country scene continues to grow in Australia, this time with a little help from someone who should take to it like a duck to water.jenmize

The Songs:

Deepwater: Take me down to the Bayou. Holy Cow. No transportation needed. I am there.

Neon Graveyard: If the last one was soulful and moody and down in the swamp, this one gets you out of the dark waters and on the road and into the big city. Foot stomping, catchy song.

Cuervo: Bluesy, twangy. I can see Jen singing this in one of those dark, smoke filled bars with people dancing slow and sexy. Peggy Lee would be impressed if she was watching from above.

Warnings and Wisdom: One of the best songs on the album. Bluesy, Soulful and easy on the ear. Thoughtful words and great guitar work. Love it.

Forget Her (Featuring Duncan Toombs) – This one has Golden Guitar nomination written all over it. Our Duncan helps out here in a rare frontline appearance. A beautiful duet. My favourite on here.

Over the mountain – This sounds very Appalachian to me from the opening bars. Instrumentally and vocally pretty darn near perfect.

A little green – A little “Big Easy”, a little get up and dance and very cool.

Slow dance – Probably the most “country” song on this album. A very waltzy, smooth tune. Jen can torch and twang with the best of them.

Up in the Holler – or down in the well. Shoulders shifted early. Bluesy and catchy….maybe more of a song to sing in the bath rather than a shower. I could listen to this song all day.

Viper – Shine the light on the siren. Awesome song.

Ships – I am getting a bit lost in the songs here and it is difficult to write. This is a good thing. Lots of cool metaphors here.

There he goes – A very hummable tune to finish with. A few vocal aerobics in this one.

If you can catch Jen somewhere, do it. Do your ears the best favour.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Mo Pitney – Behind This Guitar

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Oh Lordy. Rusty and those two Ians said to me….listen Kaz. Everyone was raving. I had to listen, as these three gentlemen never lead me astray. No relative of Gene, but way awesome. I am knocked onto my feet. A definite cross between two of my favourites, John Michael Montgomery and Joe Nichols with a touch of Alan Jackson and possibly one of the saviours of modern American Country Music.

This is probably amongst the best American Country Music Album that I have heard in the last few years, which is a big call, but it is just awesome.

While I had faith in several of the new gals on the block: Ashley Monroe, Kacey Musgraves and the  continuing excellence of female legends, the boys were making me ponder.

I didn’t know whether to cry at half of the songs or to dance around in triumph. This boy got it. He got us fans. I was wondering what all of the fuss was about, now I understand.

 

The Songs:

Country: (Bill Anderson, Bobby Tomberlin, Mo Pitney) The test of a good country song…or any good song….is to be able to imagine the words of the song come to life, like a little video in your mind. The images of this song are so strong. Every word is true. It helps if you are a country person, but it is spot on.

Clean up on Aisle Five: ( Mo Pitney, Will Nance) Like most of the songs on this album, this is a simple story of stuff that happens every day. In this case, it is about bumping into a girl that had broken his heart.

Come do a little life: ( Byron Hill, Mo Pitney, Will Nance) A little more up tempo and happier than the last song. It definitely has that Jackson/Nichols feel to it.

It’s just a dog: ( Dave Turnbull, Jimmy Melton, Mo Pitney)  Anyone who has owned and loved a dog will relate to this song. Don’t be put off by the title, there is a twist or two.

Everywhere: ( Dean Dillon, Mo Pitney, Phil O’Donnell) Not the Tim McGraw song, though a punchy, catchy song that may be a future shower song. A good song for a drive in the country. Toe tapping stuff.

Boy and a girl thing: (Don Sampson, Mo Pitney) From little things, big things grow. Some nice twanging here too.

I met Merle Haggard Today: (Don Sampson, Mo Pitney) I wonder if Merle got to hear this song. I think that he would be pretty pleased that country music is in such good hands before he left the building.

Take the chance: (Dean Dillon, Mo Pitney) Pretty little song, nice harmonies, simple message.

When I’m with you: (David Lee Murphy, Mo Pitney) A toe tapper from the start, it would be easy to dance to. The keys and the fiddle are pretty cool in this one too.

Love her like I lost her: (Dennis Duff, Mo Pitney) A country tear jerker with a difference. Tighten up those heart strings.

Behind this guitar: ( Casey Beathard, Phil O’Donnell, Don Sampson) One of only two songs that Mo hasn’t had a hand in, yet it is the title of the album! Apt name for the album, though. Says it all really.

Give me Jesus: ( Fernando Ortega) A nice, mellow way to finish off the album.

It gives this old country girl a shining light when you hear an album like this. There is nothing poppy or crossover about this album. It is pure country. To look at Mo (Morgan) Pitney, you would not think automatically that he was a country singer. When he opens up his mouth….you sure do know.

More please.