Melanie – Born To Be (1968)

FrontCover1.jpgBorn to Be is the singer Melanie’s debut album, released on Buddah Records in 1968.

Following Melanie’s success at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 Buddha repackaged and reissued the album as My First Album.

Born to Be, Melanie Safka’s 1969 debut, is an intriguing curate’s egg. Neither Melanie, nor her producer-husband Peter Schekeryk, seem sure exactly where her strengths lie, so she is cast in a number of roles: Piaf-imitating chanteuse (“In the Hour”), soul-searching, angst-heavy troubadour (“Momma Momma”), giggling novelty figure (“Animal Crackers”) and children’s entertainer (“Christopher Robin Is Saying His Prayers”). Stranger still, half the time the experiment works; the small ensemble, led by her own enthusiastic (if thoroughly inexpert) guitar playing creates an arty, coffeehouse ambience in which Melanie’s idiot-savant act flourishes. But the less said about her attack at “Merry Christmas” the better. (by Charles Donovan)

It’s hard to believe this album was released almost 37 years ago. Listening to it on today, I was struck by how fresh and challenging the performances are: “Born To Be” is really an inspired debut album. Those unfamiliar with Melanie’s work except for her hits are in for a real surprise with this album. Most of the arrangements are orchestral, and her youthful sounding voice paints a stark contrast with the complexity of her songwriting (as in “I Really Loved Harold,” “Momma Momma,” and “I’m Back In Town”).


Significantly, Melanie delivers a definitive cover version of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Dylan wrote in the first installment of his autobiography, “Chronicles,” that seeing the Brecht/Weill show “The Threepenny Opera” (as presented by the Theatre de Lys in New York City) helped to bring about the expanded vision needed to write “Mr. Tambourine Man,” as well as other songs. Hearing Melanie’s rendition, I think that she unconsciously tapped into that same thought process that produced such a striking performance, which sounds as if it came out of “The Threepenny Opera.” For those of you who are lucky enough to find this disc, it is well worth buying. You get a glimpse of an artist introducing herself and her work to the world: “Born to Be…Melanie.” (by Charles)

AlternateFrontCoversAlternate frontcovers

Melanie (guitar, vocals)
a bunch of unknown studio musicians


01. In the Hour (Safka) 3.12
02. I’m Back in Town (Safka) 2.23
03. Bobo’s Party (Safka) 3.52
04. Mr. Tambourine Man (Dylan) 4.28
05. Momma, Momma (Safka) 3.48
06. I Really Loved Harold (Safka) 4.14
07. Animal Crackers (Safka) 2.17
08. Christopher Robin Is Saying His Prayers (Fraser/Milne/Safka) 2.37
09. Close To It All (Safka) 3.24
10. Merry Christmas (Traditional/Safka) 2.49




More Melanie:


Melanie – Arabesque (1982)

FrontCover1A very pleasant guitar driven album. “Detroit or Buffalo” sounds as beautiful with her as it does with writer Barbara Keith. There’s an odd reggae number in “When you’re dead and gone”. I hate reggae but I love Melanie, so, after ten spins, let’s say I accepted the song. Country music is represented by “It don’t matter now”. Chip Taylor (yes, he of “Angel of the morning” – made famous by Merrillee Rush – and “Wild thing” – eternized by The Troggs and Jimi Hendrix) nods his way in with “Any way that you want me”. “Roadburn” is rock; “Fooling yourself” is pop with a nice gospel-like choir. “Chances” closes the album in chord progression grandeur. It was 1982 and Melanie made a varied, but synergic album. Lovely. (by S. V. Gomeson)

“Arabesque” (1982) is, hands-down, one of Melanie’s best albums. That she could consistently put out such great, commercial product and get overlooked is one of the saddest unsolved mysteries of modern music. When it was originally released in the U.S, it was on a small, independent label called Blanche Records. In the U.K. and Europe it was on RCA Records. Great combination of original songs mixed with excellent cover material. Fine musicianship and, of course, Melanie’s wonderful vocals in an understated production (by Charles)

Alternate frontcover:


Melanie Safka (voclas, guitar)
a bunch of unknown studio musisicians


01. Detroit Or BuffaloA1 Detroit Or Buffalo (Keith) 3.48
02. It Don’t Matter Now (McDonald) 3.12
03. Any Way That You Want Me (Taylor) 4.32
04 .Roadburn (Safka) 3.15
05 .Fooling Yourself (DeVitto) 3.46
06. Too Late (Safka) 4.21
07. Standing On The Other Side (Of Your Love) (Safka) 4.13
08. Love You To Loath Me (Safka) 3.20
09. When You’re Dead And Gone (Safka) 3.05
10. Imaginary Heroes (Evans) 4.36
11. Chances (Russell) 3.33


The singles from this album:


Melanie – Ballroom Streets (1978)

FrontCover1Ballroom Streets is a 1978 double album released by Melanie. The album is essentially a live album but recorded in the studio with a small audience. It mixed new recordings of old songs with some new songs.

Melanie (born Melanie Safka) has recorded 19 LPs and has sold 22 million records. She has written innumerable songs, including universally recognized hits like “Nickel Song”, “Beautiful People”, “Look What They’ve Done To My Song”, “Brand New Key” and “Candles In The Rain.” And she has been the only female singer in the last 20 years to have three singles on the top forty at the same time. In 1975 Melanie recorded “Photograph” (Atlantic) which enjoyed a modest commercial success and introduced a new Melanie whose “far more assertive style” contained “her slightly guttural tones quiver, trill, blast and whisper, yet her originality is in these variant, imperfect timbres that startle and surprise” which combined to portray Melanie, at long last, as an adult, singing adult songs for an adult audience.

Her further growth was evidenced on her 1977 release for Midsong International, “Phonogenic: Not Just Another Pretty Face”. This LP included ten songs (four Melanie originals and six interpretations of tunes by other writers) that demonstrated Melanie’s extraordinary abilities as a musical and emotive interpreter.
Melanie’s first album for Tomato Records “Ballroom Streets” takes that potential of maturation and goes one giant step further, smack into the heart and soul of rock & roll. “Ballroom Streets”, a double LP was recorded live in the studio before an audience of thirty people. The LP contains all the spontaneity, exchange between performer and audience, and a band of impeccable rock musicians, to give “Ballroom Streets” a big joyful sound.

Melanie01With the release “Ballroom Streets” along with Melanie’s triumphant return to the concert stage last June at Carnegie Hall, a major phase has begun in her career.
Melanie notes: “I really am a survivor, too. I’m glad in a way that I’ve had time off. It’s given me the chance to think about a lot of things.”

Even now, some reviewers or critics still are unsure when you mention the name Melanie, they’re still thinking in terms of Earth Mother/Granola/Whole Wheat Dumplin’, well, hold on to your hats folks, Melanie’s not only found a “brand new key” but it’s a brand-new ballgame and this is one lady that’s not about to be eclipsed by any other woman on the rock scene today. She’s a killer, and one listen to “Ballroom Streets” will forever dispel any ‘bliss-ninny’ pictures anyone may still have about this fantastically talented lady.
Melanie is the kind of person one can instantly relate to, open and always in high humor, her life force shining through.
Her hair’s frosted with gray now but her eyes still twinkling with a mischievous glow. “Ballroom Streets” is the evidence that Melanie is a contender to be reckoned with and I reckon that the airplay, out of the box will finally and firmly establish Melanie as the bright alternative to the female singers on the charts today.

Personnel in the band include Sal DeTroia, Melanie’s long- time acoustic guitar sideman, Bob Leone on bass guitar and Robbie Georgia on lead and rhythm guitars who joined up with Melanie for the June Carnegie Hall concert (1978) and as Melanie puts it, “stood by for better or worse.” Louis Cabaza on keyboards came in from Los Angeles for this album and Stan Kipper on drums “found the pulse” and Tony Battaglia on lead, rhythm and bass guitars “quickened it.”


Both Tony and Stan, masterful musicians and rock and rollers to the core injected an enthusiasm and energy that is clearly evident on the LP. This is particularly true on a cut entitled “Cyclone/Candles In The Rain”. Melanie delivers a powerful vocal on “Cyclone” which is inter-mingled with synthesizer producing vocals that are out of this world and the band goes into overdrive concluding with a perfect segue into an acapella version of “Candles In The Rain,” powerful rock & roll with drama and vivacity.

Melanie02“Running After Love” the first single from the album has all the urgency rock with the added dimension of a mature viewpoint.
The lyrics are true, spare, evocative and right on target. This is a woman who has loved, suffered and survived right along with the rest of us. Listeners will connect immediately, she’s coming from an honest place and has the grit to put it out there.
Welcome back Melanie, welcome to “Ballroom Streets” America: rock and roll needed a punch in the arm and this lady’s the one to deliver just that! — November 1978 (taken from the Tomato Records press release)
A thoughtful and ambitious collection of popular standards. (by Bruce Eder)

One ofm the finest Melanie live recordings ever includig hightlight like “Save Me” or a brand new Version of “Ruby Tuesday” … Melanie goes hard rock … listen … what a killer Version of this Stones classic.

And her backing band was really strong ! What a great album !

Tony Battaglia (guitar, slide guitar, bass)
Luis Cabaza (keyboards)
Robbie Georgia (dobro, guitar, background vocals)
Stan Kipper (drums, background vocals)
Bob Leone (bass)
Mary McCaffrey (vocals)
Melanie (guitar, vocals)
John Tegthoff (organ, background vocals)
T.C. (background vocals)
The Persuasions (background vocals)


01. Running After Love (Safka) 4.22
02. Holdin’ Out (Safka) 3.08
03. Cyclone / Candles In The Rain (Safka) 7.15
04. Beautiful Sadness (Safka) 5.37
05. Do You Believe (Safka) 3.46
06. Nickel Song (Safka) 3.03
07. Any Guy (Safka) 3.06
08. Look What They Done To My Song (Safka) 4.17
09. I Believe (Safka) 3.47
10. Poet (Safka) 3.44
11. Save Me (Safka) 6.51
12. Together Alone (Safka) 3.16
13. Ruby Tuesday (Jagger/Richards) 6.32
14. Buckle Down (Safka) 3.08
15. Miranda (Ochs) 3.42
16. Brand New Key (Safka) 3.35
17. Groundhog Day (Safka) 3.55
18. Friends And Company (Safka) 6.43

Melanie Safka – BBC On Air (1997)

FrontCover1Ten of the 18 songs on this CD were recorded live in 1975, another four date from 1969, and the last four are from 1989. Thus, we get a glimpse of Melanie in performance across a period of 20 years, doing a variety of material ranging from her own originals (including familiar songs such as “Beautiful People” and “Baby Guitar”) to covers of Phil Ochs’s “Chords of Fame,” Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “Almost Like Being in Love” (from Brigadoon), and the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday.” Her rendition of “Almost Like Being in Love” is a folk-blues style interpretation, and one of the most downbeat and interesting (if not necessarily successful) takes on the song ever done. There is a certain sameness to much of the rest of the material that works against too many people other than hardcore fans appreciating this disc, although some numbers, such as “The Nickel Song” and “Beautiful People,” always work. The version of “Ruby Tuesday,” like the other three 1989 vintage songs here, features a full band with synthesizers and drum machines, and is a bit jarring, though Melanie still throws herself impressively into the classic Rolling Stones song. (by Bruce Eder)


Featuring a series of live recordings covering a period of 20 years this CD provides excellent sound and a unique record of Melanie’s live and session work for the BBC. The first 10 tracks feature a concert recorded for the BBC Radio One In Concert series in 1975. Track 5 is incorrectly listed and is actually a song called Here We Go Again. During this concert Melanie is accompanied by Barry Lee Harwood on guitar and mandolin. Barry played on Sunsets and Other Beginnings and As I See It Now but fails to be credited on the cover of the CD.

Tracks 11 to 14 are rare session recordings from 1969, just Melanie and her guitar. Visit My Dreams is perhaps better known as Deep Down Low from Melanie’s second album.
While all tracks have so far featured acoustic versions of songs, the last four feature Melanie with a full band. The tracks where recorded during a visit to the UK to promote Cowabonga. The musicians that accompany Melanie also accompanied her during two concerts at the Shaw Theatre in London in 1989. (by

And I confess … I´m a real fan of Melanie Safka … what  wonderful voice, what sensitive music and lyrics …

But … her 1989 recordings were not really good (especially tzhe Version of “Goodybye Ruby Tuesday is more than lousy …) … but …

… don’t miss “Rock An’ Roll Heart” — a song every baby boomer can relate to.

BBC Radio One In Concert, November 1975:
Barry Lee Hardwood (guitar, mandolin)
Melanie (vocals, guitar)

BBC Session, September 1969:
Melanie Safka (vocals, guitar)

BBC Session, September 89:
Kay Langford (vocals)
Justin Myers (bass)
Neil Palmer (keyboards)
Alan Ross (guitar, background vocals)
Melanie Safka (vocals, guitar)
Chris Staines (background vocals)
Pete Thompson (drums)



BBC Radio One In Concert, November 1975:

01. Autumn Lady (Safka) 4.13
02. Chords Of Fame (Ochs) 5.14
03. Almost Like Being In Love (Lerner/Loewe) 5.09
04. Stoneground Words (Safka) 5.09
05. Here I Am (Safka) 2.37
06. Any Guy (Safka) 2.560
07. Do You Believe (Safka) 6.08
08. Leftover Wine (Safka) 5.44
09. The Nickel Song (Safka) 4.03
10. Beautiful People (Safka) 5.31

BBC Session, September 1969:
11. Visit My Dreams (Deep Down Low) (Safka) 3.51
12. Up Town And Down (Safka) 2.51
13. Baby Guitar (Safka) 2.49
14. Tuning My Guitar (Safka) 4.16

BBC Session, September 89:
15. Ruby Tuesday (Jagger/Richards) 3.50
16. Rock ‘n’ Roll Heart (Safka) 5.17
17. Racing Heart (Safka) 5.17
18. Apathy (Safka/Schekeryk) 3.50


Melanie – Old Bitch Warrior (1995)

FrontCover1Excellent title, substandard album. Melanie’s voice had slid from a vibrant, intense instrument to a thick, bellowing growl, and Old Bitch Warrior’s songs are dull, droning creatures, wrapped in plodding production that sorely lacks any lightness of touch. Some of her lyrics are affecting — “No Time to Smell the Flowers” mourns the passing of time with precision and clarity — but “Summer of Love” deals with matters she’d already handled more effectively on “Candles in the Rain.” And the re-recording of two songs from Freedom Knows My Name, as well as her standard “Beautiful People” (this time with an absurd drum loop), merely highlights the lack of fresh ideas. (by Charles Donovan)

And I can´t agree with this review … this is one of the finest Melanie albums ever recorded …  with a great depth and excellent music … And her voice is in a very good condition …

Listen to songs like “Rock In The Road”, “Beautiful People” or “I Will Survive”. And we will hear great versions of old hits like “Candles In The Rain” and “Ruby Tuesday”.

What a great album !


Gary Burke (percussion)
Paul Harris (keyboards, clavinet)
Mindy Jostyn (violin)
Rob Leon (guitar, bass)
Melanie Safka Schekeryk (vocals, guitar)
Jonathan Edwards (guitar, vocals on 07.)
Manray (vocals on 13.)
Meredith (Pop In Wonderland) (percussion on 08.)
background vocals:
Beau Jarred Schekeryk – Jeordie Schekeryk – Leilah Schekeryk – Mindy Jostyn


01. Rock In The Road (Bruen) 3.45
02. No Time To Smell The Flowers (Safka) 4.11
03. Something Warm (Leary/Safka) 6.31
04. Old Bitch Warrior (Safka) 5.19
05. These Nights (Buskin/Batteau) 4.48
06. You Don’t Know Me (Safka) 3.52
07. I Don’t Know What Love Is (Edwards) 4.25
08. Beautiful People (Safka) 5.41
09. Any Time At All (Lennon/McCartney) 3.32
10. Freedom Knows My Name (Safka Schekeryk) 5.35
11. Summer Of Love (Safka) 4.44
12. Ballerina (Safka) 2.50
13. I Will Survive (Fekaris/Perren) 5.07
14. Candles In The Rain (Safka) 5.18
15. Ruby Tuesday (Jagger/Richards) 5.23
16. Look What They Done To My Song (Safka) 5.16



Melanie – Madrugada (1974)

FrontCover1Madrugada is a 1974 album released by Melanie featuring the singles “Lover’s Cross” and “Love To Lose Again”. In November 1973, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” became a Top 40 hit in the United Kingdom and was subsequently added to the British release of the album.

As with Gather Me the album featured arrangements and conduction by Roger Kellaway.

The word madrugada is Portuguese for “daybreak”. (by wikipedia)

This is an interesting album in the evolution of Melanie in that it lays (with the album previous, “Stoneground Words” from 1972) the direction of Melanie’s musical future.

The album(s) is more “mature”, less twee, less “hippie”. I like the urban and pastoral wide eyed innocence of  Melanie’s earlier work but as she grew older her music became even more personal.

It also became slicker.

There were less of the rustic tones , the shaggy edges which made Melanie’s early music so appealing.

This matters not as long as the song’s are up to scratch.


On first glance the amount of covers would indicate Melanie was running out of ideas but the truth was this was her 13th album in six years. OK, there were a couple of soundtrack albums and live albums in there but still that’s a lot of work. Melanie, also, wasn’t adverse to a cover if it fit it into the album. And this all here hangs together quite well.

This album is slicker than her earlier work but the emotional content and Melanie’s point of view as narrator hasn’t changed that much.

And that is a joy.

This was the last Melanie album to chart in the US (and it barely charted). I’m not sure why here commercial popularity came to an end. There were many other vocalists who weren’t as good as this who were having successful careers.

The only explanation, and one the pundits raise often, may be, ultimately, right and that is her audience identified her as the  flower child vocalist (whether she was one or not) and when she outgrew that they refused to go along for the ride.

A pity there is much too  like here.(by


George Devens (percussion)
Sal DiTroia (guitar)
Ron Frangipane (keyboards)
Hugh McCracken (guitar, steel-guitar)
Don Payne (bass)
Melanie Safka (vocals, guitar)
Alan Schwartzberg (drums)
Chuck Di Monaco (bass on 09.)
Roger Kellaway (keyboards on 03., 04., 06. + 09.)
Joe Macho (on 02., 03. + 07.)
Rick Marotta (percussion on 01.)
Denny Seiwell (drums on 05.)


01. Love To Lose Again (Safka) 4.35
02. Lover’s Cross (Croce) 4.54
03. Pretty Boy Floyd (Guthrie) 3.41
04. Wild Horses (Jagge/Richards) 6.41
05. I Think It’s Going To Rain Today (Newman) 2.54
06. Will You Love Me Tomorrow (Goffin/King) 2.46
07. Maybe Not For A Lifetime (Safka) 4.42
08. Holding Out (Safka) 3.15
09. The Actress (Safka) 6.03
10. Pine And Feather (Safka) 2.15




Melanie – An Evening At The Paris Theatre (1975)

FrontCover1It’s always a pleasure to welcome a guest from abroad to this concert series but a special pleasure when the guest is as attractive, engaging and talented as Miss Melanie Safka. Melanie was born in New York City and started her career there playing in clubs and bars, accompanying herself on guitar. She’s very much a product of her time – the ‘flower power’ era, the Greenwich Village folk scene – a unique transatlantic period which brought forward such fine female singer-songwriters as Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Buffy Saint Marie and Joan Baez.

BBCTranscriptionDiscMelanie first came to prominence in Britain on the release of a single, “Look What They Done To My Song, Ma”, which, though popular, actually provided a Number One hit for the New Seekers, who put out a cover version. She then countered that by reaching the Top Ten with a unique rendering of the Rolling Stones “Ruby Tuesday” and another winner of her own “Brand New Key”. It’s albums, however, which demonstrate the true value of Melanie and the great depth of talent that has made her a star. She had five best selling LPs up to 1973 when she was forced into temporary retirement to have her two baby daughters. “It’s uncomfortable holding a guitar when you’re pregnant”, she says.

MelanieHer 1975 English tour was a triumphant come-back with capacity audiences at every venue and with it came the release of a new album, “Sunset and Other Beginnings”. Music from that, along with some of her favourite songs from her early days can be heard – introduced, played and sung by Melanie – in this IN CONCERT performance.

Transcription discs were produced in very limited numbers (less than 100) by the BBC for use by radio stations.

The concert was later used as the basis for the CD “On Air”

Recorded live  at The Paris Theatre
Lower Regent Street, London, England – November 6, 1975

Barry Lee Harwood (guitar, mandolin)
Melanie (vocals, guitar)

Alternate frontcover

01. Autumn Lady (Safka) 3.54
02. Chords Of Fame (Safka) 6.01
03. Almost Like Being In Love (Safka) 5.50
04. Stoneground Words (Safka) 4.56
05. Here We Go Again (Safka) 2.35
06. Any Guy (Safka) 3.49
07. I Do Believe (Safka)  5.53
08. Leftover Wine (Safka) 5.44
09. The Nickel song (Safka) 3.57
10. (I Hope You) Remember Me Good (Safka) 4.03
11. Beautiful People (Safka) 5.05
12. Virgin Mary (Safka) 2.59
13. The Hallelujah Chorus (from ‘Messiah’) (Händel) 2.45