Saturday, 2 June 2018

Ellen Foley - Night Out (1979); Spirit Of St. Louis (1980)

Ellen Foley was born in the USA in 1951 and, apart from her brief solo career, is bst known for her vocals on “Paradise By The Dashboard LIght” on Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell album from 1977. He also had a brief relationship with MIck Jones of The Clash in 1981-82.

NIGHTOUT (1979)



Produced by Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson. This is a Springsteenesque New York City rock album of the highest order. The opener, the Spectoresque majesty that is "We Belong To The Night" is superb and Ellen's voice is powerful, just as we knew her from the vocal duet on "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" on Meat Loaf's iconic "Bat Out Of Hell". "What's A Matter Baby" is like a 60s Phil Spector girl group song, and then there is a rocking cover of The Stones' "Stupid Girl" which vastly improves on the original.

In late 1979, Philip Rambow was said to be one of the most promising new singer-songwriters. What happened to him I wonder? The track here. "Night Out" is just great, such an NYC rock song. His other track "Young Lust" is excellent too. Ellen's voice and approach making me feel all, shall we say, distracted. Graham Parker's "Thunder And Rain" is another punchy rocker, as is the frenetic "Hideaway". "Sad Songs" is appealing and Ian Hunter's "Don't Let Go" is a heartbreaking closer to a very impressive album, albeit on of its time.

I caught her live in 1980 at the old "Venue" in London's Victoria, touring this album. Excellent show too.

THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS (1981)



An utterly different album. Ellen was carrying on with Mick Jones of The Clash at the time and on this bizarre album, she enlisted Jones' help. He and Joe Strummer contributed several "Sandinista!" style compositions and members of The Clash and Ian Dury's Blockheads played the music which was anything but rock. It is virtually impossible to categorise, just as "Sandinista!" was. All that said, I found it strangely appealing at the time and still do. 

"The Shuttered Palace" is marvellously evocative and "Torchlight" sees Ellen duetting with Jones, somewhat clumsily. "Beautiful Waste Of Time" is a jazzy pleasure and "The Death Of The Psychoanalyst Of Salvador Dali" is frankly bonkers. "M.P.H." is as close to punky rock as it gets. "My Legionnaire" is another atmospheric Edith Piaf cover. "Theatre Of Cruelty" continues the floaty, jazzy feel and "How Glad I Am" is a slice of sixties soul. "Phases Of Travel", the intoxicating "Game Of A Man", the soulful "Indestructible" and the anthemic "In The Killing Hour" end this interesting little curio.

Ellen Foley did little else after this. One more ordinary album in 1983 before a comeback in 2013. I haven't checked that out yet. Maybe I should.


B+/C+


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