My Record Collection 101

Melissa Etheridge – well, I have always been very partial to girl-singers, or to be correct female vocalists.  And I have always been on the lookout for a new woman’s voice.  And sometimes you find a gem, and sometimes they just don’t really succeed.  Melissa falls into a half-way category.  Her first album blew me away but it has been a case of diminishing returns and I stopped after about 4 studio albums.  That is not to say she wasn’t a great singer – but somehow the magic mantle slipped and I lost interest.  Her debut album 1988’s self-titled Melissa Etheridge had all the best songs and a raspy voice and intensity which seemed so new and vibrant, and a reminder of a recent past which was being overwhelmed by synth driven soft rock.  But this record was indeed superb; one of the best debut albums in my collection – and I became a convert.  Best songs ‘Similar Features’, ‘Chrome plated Heart’ and ‘Late September Dogs’.  The great batch of songs were most probably the result of years of trying to break through, and she obviously brought her best songs to this record.  It often seems to happen, and then when the record company want an album a year you have to write new ones which is far more difficult.  Next up is a live promotional EP, Melissa Etheridge Live, which is now a real rarity.  Superb vibrant versions of songs form her first album.  Loved it.   

I did buy her next album on vinyl but it failed to impress me as much although still a very good record Brave and Crazy., best tracks ‘No Souvenirs’, ‘You Can Sleep While I Drive’ and ‘Royal Station’.    I have only bought her records now and then when I see them in charity shops or very cheap,  Yes I Am (1992) was her breakthrough record and sold well, especially in her native America.   Well, the record is okay – but somehow it doesn’t have the magic of her first record.  Why is that?  I mean, why do we love a certain record and yet another, possibly equally as good doesn’t hit the spot.  I think that familiarity is the answer.  The first record we buy of an artist is usually played to death and you know every song inside out, but the next ones are played and filed away and only listened to occasionally – but that first tone, the time you fell in love with that artist just stay sacred.  It doesn’t always happen though; I have with certain artists liked them more with every new release.  Anyway this record seems just a bit too shouty for my liking, as if she is trying that bit too hard.  Not  bad record at all though – best songs ‘Come to my Window’ and ‘I’m The Only One’.  Only one other studi0 album 2001’s Skin, which I found more to my taste – a gentler sound, slightly deeper voice and not so strident.  Best tracks – ‘It’s Only Me’, and ‘Please Forgive Me’.  Ah, how often do I discover, in this archiving exercise that a record I had sort of rejected, put to one side and moved on to others – is a real gem.  So, I will now keep at least one eye open for anything else from Melissa Etheridge, a real genuine artist of deep integrity – and not a bad singer either.

I also, of course have her Greatest Hits; which is a good place to start.  One thing I am not sure I should mention – but Melissa has campaigned for years for gay rights – and like Joan Armatrading, her songs are always about you, gender unspecified.  Still works brilliantly for me.  And I quite like the songs I hadn’t had already…