Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Speaking of the Kinks, here's Ray Davies being overly optimistic about his starmaking abilities.

I know Claire Hamill only because of my rule about interesting looking records from the late 60's/early 70's, as mentioned a few posts back.

She was originally known as the English Joni Mitchell, and her first record is pretty much a Joni copy only not as good. The best song is her cover of (Joni's) Urge For Going which she does in a sparse, eerie style. There's also a strange song about an old woman who gets eaten by her plants...

Second record, October, is a totally different story. I kind of wonder if Linda Perhacs fans might like it, though it isn't particularly psych-y. Anyway, it's a lovely little folk-with-a-touch-of-rock album with assistance from some talented people (including Alan White). Here's the very pretty opener (btw, the US album seems to have a different cover/track order than the UK version) Island. Hmm, that actually sounds a little bit like Yes for the first few seconds.

Honestly, this is probably my favorite album of its type, so it's hard to pick songs to post here. I guess that Crying Under The Bedclothes is up there though (I'm not bothered by the somewhat, um, ambitious lyrics...a friend of mine made a face when she sings "Leaping thrice around the cosmos" but he also likes the song, so there you go). Elsewhere, Claire goes uptempo one time with Baby What's Wrong which includes some fairly sexy moaning...I should probably mention that at this point she was young and kind of a looker, which probably helps to explain the next stage of her career...

After October, Claire hooked up with Ray Davies and put out her next two albums on his Konk label. Neither is as good as October, though the first one Stage Door Johnnies is pretty decent. I'm kind of fond of this cover of We've Got To Get Out Of This Place, especially the "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" part. Somehow, I have the feeling that Ray Davies was behind Oh Daddy. It's just a hunch...I could be wrong. Ok, actually if you listen to the Kinks' Demolition and Holiday, you'll pretty much see what's going on. Too bad Claire didn't meet Ray a few (Kinks) albums earlier.

The next record, Abracadabra moves even closer to adult-oriented mush. It includes a fairly unexciting cover version of Celluloid Heroes and not much else to recommend it.

In the end Claire Hamill kind of made herself a star with a new-age album called Voices, but it's a totally different thing than what she'd done before.

Most of her records were reissued in somewhat bare-bones CD versions by Blueprint a few years ago. I highly recommend October, I recommend Stage Door Johnnies if you want more like October but not quite as good, and I don't recommend the first or fourth albums unless you're really obsessed.

Her website is here.

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