Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Short post today. There's a recent CD release (scroll to the bottom of the page) by avant garde jazz singer Patty Waters that seems to have slipped out somewhat under the radar. Called You Thrill Me it doesn't contain any of the screaming that made her famous. It does include a beer commercial, which I'm posting partly because I love the contrast between it ("mellow...") and the kind of singing that she's best known for.

I'm not going to post her take on Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair which is her big hit, so to speak. It's long, and you really want to hear it on CD or LP on a good stereo, in its full sonic glory. Seriously, everyone should hear it at least once. Even if you don't like it, you'll never forget it, and if you do like it, you'll probably love it. (It really is pretty great, but I don't kid myself about how it goes over with a lot of people.) In a similar vein but not quite as unforgettable, here's her version of Wild Is The Wind, a song well known to David Bowie fans.

While roaming around the internet I've found contradictory interviews with singer Diamanda Galas about whether Patty was or wasn't an influence:

"People ask me (about) my influences, I would have to say Patty Waters. They say other people and I say, Nahh, Patty Waters, listen to Patty Waters. I listened to her twice. That's all it took for some grain of inextricable influence." -Diamanda Galas, 1998

"Patty Waters I never really heard until about a year ago and I was so impressed. She was playing with Burton Greene and it was a beautiful version of "Black is The Color." - Diamanda Galas, 1989

I suppose you could interpret the two quotes as meaning that Diamanda hadn't heard Patty when she started out, but was later influenced. It is weird though: search for "Patty Waters" and just about every single result will tell you that she was an influence on Galas and on Yoko Ono (it says that on the back of Patty's ESP CD packaging too) and I'm assuming that the implication is that they heard her before experimenting with the screaming thing (unless the implication is that they were already screaming, but Patty influenced the way they never know). With Galas, based on the above links, that's at least somewhat in doubt. And I still can't track down any primary source that indicates that Yoko had heard and/or was imitating Patty Waters. Maybe she was...I really have no idea, but it would be nice if the internet could supply more than unsourced assertions. If anyone can find something more substantial, I'd really love to be able to post a link.

(I have this "questions about influences" thing on my mind as a result of a post I'm working on dealing with two bands, The Liars and Flux Information Sciences. I should have that up in a week or so.)

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. The one thing worth noting is the obvious: most people buying You Thrill Me will probably be getting it on the basis of the avant garde tracks from Patty's first two albums, and yet nothing on You Thrill Me really sounds like that. It's still a nice album, but it is a weird example of the way commerce and music can interact in strange ways, such that albums can find their ways to unexpected audiences. I actually have to give some kudos to the often evil Other Music for the forthright way they deal with the CD.

It couldn't hurt to mention that according to the ESP Disk site, Patty Waters' albums are slated to be remixed for surround-sound DVD release. Yow!

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