Picks and Pans Review: Am I Real or What?
In the early 70s flower children used to crawl onstage to lie at Melanie's feet as she epitomized the peace-and-love generation with such songs as "Candles in the Rain" and "The Nickel" Song. Those fans who still have a soft spot in their hearts for Melanie Safka will be happy to hear that she's still singing a familiar tune to somewhat updated arrangements. On her first U.S. album in nine years, Melanie's voice hasn't changed: She shifts from childlike pouting to soulful Edith Piaf chants to a belt-it-out style. Crack Seeks the Edge includes a fun chorus of "Wo oh oh's" and "Do wada wada's" sung by Melanie's children, aged 5, 10 and 12, and Am I Real to You? is one of the sweetest ballads she has ever written. Those who never acquired a taste for Melanie will probably have the same gripes as always. "Maybe I'm Lonely", about the New York City singles scene as viewed through a romantic encounter while riding on a bicycle, suffers from the cuteness that sugarcoated her 1971 hit, "Brand New Key", about sex and roller-skating. Even diehard fans may have some problems with the album. A pounding beat accompanies most of the songs; one tune was even released as a 12-inch dance single ("Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?"). That innovation in her style often drowns out Melanie's most appealing trait: simplicity. Nonetheless Melanie certainly deserves credit for sticking to her trade. At a time when everything from her heyday is suddenly back in style, Melanie may find paisley-clad fans at her feet once again. (Amherst)Micheal Small