Macy Gray – Well, almost a one hit wonder. Her debut album sold incredibly well thanks to the hit singles, but since then she has struggled to make an impact. Strange, as On How Life Is – was such a great album. But I, like so many, only ever bought the first record. Saying that this was a really excellent record; a subtle mix of Soul, Blues with a dash of hip-Hop (thankfully only a dash). Best songs – the big hit single ‘I Try’ and ‘ A Moment To Myself’ and ‘Why Didn’tcha Call Me’. Still enjoyed listening to it.
Carol Grimes – well, another in the long list of artists you probably haven’t heard of. Which is a pity as Carol was a vocalist of rare talent. I discovered her, like so many other, by accident. There was a pub in North Finchley, called I believe The Torrington. One evening, after a meal at the local Chinese, Joy and I went for a drink there. I distinctly remember they were playing tracks from Band On The Run, so it must have been 1974 0r 75. Then the live band came on, and it was Carol Grimes with her band. And wow, she blew me away. Now she has never been a ‘hit’ artist but has steadily plodded on through the years, with rock and jazz and bluesy records. I worked back and her first album was Warm Blood (1974). This was a typical early Seventies rock and blues album, quite listenable but not remarkable really. Best songs are ‘You’re the Only One’ and ‘Wait For me Down By The River’. But not a bad solo effort. The following years eponymous album Carol Grimes was much better, always loved the cover with her and her son. This is much better, the songs are more distinctive and better production. Best songs are ‘Brand New Tomorrow’, ‘My Baby Specialises’ and ‘Dynamite’.
She seems to have stopped recording for a few years, maybe bringing up her son, or teaching music. But in 1986 she re-emerged with a new band and a new album Eyes Wide Open, and she had discovered Jazz. This is a great album and definitely not pop or rock. The jazz arrangements allow Carol’s remarkable voice, a slightly softer version of Janis Joplin (see J) to come to the fore. There is space for her to swoop and dive around the melodies. More and more I like this record – some great songs – ‘Your Blues’ (a tribute to jazz and soul musicians and singers) ‘Mau Mau’ a sort of autobiographical song) and ‘Alexandra Dance’. Of course the critics and the public largely ignored this comeback, but luckily she was still able to continue making records. Daydreams and Danger came out in 1988; another very good jazz infused album, some tracks recorded live and some in the studio. Best tracks –‘ Heart to Heart’, the title track and ‘Mental Mood’. I haven’t really had this album so long and am still really appreciating it. I really should listen to it more often – but, you know how it is. Why Don’t They Dance followed a year later; another jazz infused collection of songs, some standards and a few originals. Her voice is quite incredible and she suits the scat-sinigng jazz style. Though in a way it gets a bit repetitive. Still, a competent record – best songs ‘Heart in my Hnads’, ‘Two Step’ and ‘Stay With Me Baby’. 1990 saw a duet album with a jazz-singer Ian Shaw – Lazy Blue Eyes. A sumptuous album with sparse arrangements and a beautiful blend of their two voices. Some great songs too – the title track, ‘Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most’, and ‘The Snake’. This was the album that I spotted and made me realise that Carol was indeed recording again – and I went back and found the previous three records. The last (so far) in my Carol Grimes collection is Live At Ronnie Scotts, a 1996 recording, with a very small band of piano and drums and bass. A very nice record again which allows her voice to fill the sound completely. Fave tracks – ‘Solitude’, ‘Wild Woman’ and ‘Who Do You Want’. She still records and releases the occasional record, but they are rarely available, even on Amazon.