viernes, 10 de julio de 2009

Laurie Styvers - Spilt Milk


Laurie Styvers (Spilt Milk) LP Chrysalis 63 07 506 - 1972

La joven americana Laurette Stivers aterrizó en el multicolor Londres de finales de los 60 y, a través de un anuncio en la prensa musical, se unió a Keith Trowsdale y John McBurnie, un par de músicos que andaban buscando una voz femenina para su proyecto. El trio graba una maqueta que pronto les consigue un contrato discográfico y en 1969 editan su primer single con el nombre de Justine. El disco es la primera referencia de la rama inglesa del sello americano Dot y cuenta ya con la producción de un hombre que en los próximos años será fundamental para Laurie: Hugh Murphy.

Justine amplian su plantilla y graban un LP que se mueve por terrenos de folk rock inglés y sonidos de la costa oeste americana. De cualquier modo, Laurie Styvers no tenía un papel destacado en el grupo, siendo tan sólo una de varias voces y co-escribiendo únicamente una de las canciones. De nuevo producido por Hugh Murphy, el album es editado en Enero de 1970, esta vez por UNI, otro sello americano operando en Inglaterra. Aunque Laurie sigue haciendo algún directo ocasional con el grupo, abandona Justine antes de la publicación del LP y junto con Hugh, para entonces ya su novio, prepara sus propias canciones para seguir en solitario.

La carrera de Laurie Styvers, no obstante, será demasiado corta. En 1972 se edita su primer LP, "Spilt Milk", y al año siguiente ve la luz su segundo y último album, "Colorado Kid". Es todo. Los dos discos en cuestión presentan una cierta continuidad de estilo e intención y podrían incluso formar un doble LP, si bien el segundo es un tanto más elaborado y serio. Ambos discos tienen la cuidada producción de Hugh Murphy, que también co-escribe alguna de las canciones junto con Laurie. También los dos albumes cuentan con los sobrios y elegantes arreglos orquestales de Tom Parker, y con algunos músicos de sesión de renombre, sobre todo en "Colorado Kid", como Gary Taylor y Andrew Steele (The Herd), Adrian Legg (sus guitarras), Henry Spinetti (batería de medio mundo), Chris Stewart y Mick Cox (Eire Apparent), Jerry Donahue (Fotheringay y Fairport Convention), o Mal Luker (The Smoke).

Son dos LPs muy personales y tal vez demasiado introspectivos y melancólicos para pertenecer a la típica cantautora americana de los 70. Cuentan con un gran sentido de la melodía y con un pausado apasionamiento y las orquestaciones de Tom Parker les dan una especial calidez. En "Spilt Milk" podemos encontrar la inmediatez de "Beat The Reaper", la amplitud de "Five Leaves Left" (nada que ver con la Nick Drake), el vaudeville de la encantadora "Pigeons", o el color de "Inside You". En "Colorado Kid" está "You Are My Inspiration", la canción que Carole King nunca escribió, y también allí viven la magnitud de "Heavenly Band", la intimidad de "You Can Fly Me To The Moon" (ecos de Laura Nyro en ese estribillo...), o la grandeza de "You Be The Tide, I'll Be The Bay" (con el impagable sitar sicodélico del Smoke Mal Luker).

Y entonces la vieja historia. Los discos recibieron muy buenas críticas... pero ventas muy pobres. Durante un tiempo se pudieron ver ambos LPs, sobre todo el primero, en las gavetas de rebajas y saldos de muchas tiendas. Hasta su desaparición total. También Laurie desapareció. Vistos los resultados en el mundo del disco y también en el mundo sentimental tras su separación de Mr. Murphy, regresó a Estados Unidos y poco o nada se ha vuelto a saber de ella desde entonces. Tan sólo que murió hace unos diez años. Nunca se han reeditado sus dos albumes y nunca se ha hablado de ella en las revistas del ramo. Nuestro humilde homenaje para Laurie.

A Hugh Murphy, alumno de Shel Talmy, las cosas le fueron mejor. Tras sus producciones de grupos más o menos subterráneos como Unicorn, Diabolus, String Driven Thing o Gracious, dió en la diana con Gerry Rafferty ("Baker Street") y trabajó con Linda Thompson, Mike Heron, Kursaal Flyers, Kilburn & The High Roads y The Proclaimers, entre otros, además de co-escribir alguna canción que otra con Van Morrison.

Por su parte, el arreglista Tom Parker ha seguido trabajando con muchos artistas, como Gerry Rafferty, Tim Rose, Chris White....o Alaska Y Dinarama (en Deseo Carnal, 1984). La vida es una tómbola.


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The young american Laurette Stivers landed in the multicoloured late 60s London and, through an advert in the press, joined Keith Trowsdale y John McBurnie, two musicians who were looking for a feminine voice for their project. The trio made a demo which soon had them a recording contract and in 1969 they released their first single with the name of Justine. This record was the first issue of the english branch of the american label Dot and was already produced by a man who would be very important for Laurie in the coming years: Hugh Murphy.

Justine expanded their line-up and recorded an album which is moving betweeen british folk rock and american west coast sounds. Anyaway, Laurie Styvers didn't have a capital role in the band, being just one of several voices and co-writing only one song. Again produced by Hugh Murphy, the LP was released in January 1970, this time by UNI, another american label operating in U.K. Though Laurie kept on doing some occasional gigs with the band, she left Justine before the album was released and with Hugh, by then her boyfriend, prepared her own songs for a solo career.

A career that, nevertheless, would be too short. Her first LP, "Spilt Milk", was released in 1972 and her second and last one, "Colorado Kid", saw the light of day the following year. That's all. Both records have a certain continuity in style and intention, and could even form a double album, even though the second one may be a bit more complex and serious. Hugh Murphy was producing both LPs and even co-writing with Laurie some of the songs. Also the two of them have the sober and elegant orchestral arrangements of Tom Parker and, specially "Colorado Kid", also the instrumental contribution of some well respected session players of the moment like Gary Taylor and Andrew Steele (The Herd), Adrian Legg (his guitars), Henry Spinetti (drummer for half of the world), Chris Stewart and Mick Cox (Eire Apparent), Jerry Donahue (Fotheringay and Fairport Convention), or Mal Luker (The Smoke).

They are two very personal LPs and probably too melancholic and introspective for openly belonging to some tipical 70s american singer-songwriter. They have a great sense of melody and some sort of slow passion. Also, Tom Parker's orchestrations give them a special warmth. In "Spilt Milk" we can find de immediate feeling of "Beat The Reaper", the amplitude of "Five Leaves Left" (not the one of Nick Drake), the vaudeville of the charming "Pigeons", or the colour of "Inside You". In "Colorado Kid" we find "You Are My Inspiration", the song Carole King never wrote, and dwelling also there there's the magnitude of "Heavenly Band", the intimacy of "You Can Fly Me To The Moon" (echoes of Laura Nyro on that chorus...), or the greatness of "You Be The Tide, I'll Be The Bay" (with the floating psychedelic sitar of Mal Luker, ex - The Smoke).

And then, same old story. These two albums received very good reviews... but very poor sales. For some time both LPs, specially the first one, could be seen on the bargain bins of many shops. Until they vanished. Laurie also vanished. Seen her results in the record world, and also in the sentimental world after splitting from Mr. Murphy, she went back to USA and little or nothing has been heard from her ever since. Only that she died about ten years ago. Her two albums have never been reissued and no music magazine seems to have ever had any feature about her. Our humble homage to Laurie.

Hugh Murphy, a Shel Talmy pupil, had a better fate. After producing some more or less underground bands like Unicorn, Diabolus, String Driven Thing o Gracious, he had some bingo with Gerry Rafferty ("Baker Street") and worked with, among others, Linda Thompson, Mike Heron, Kursaal Flyers, Kilburn & The High Roads and The Proclaimers, besides co-writing some songs with Van Morrison.

Tom Parker has kept on making arrangements and playing for a lot of artists like Gerry Rafferty, Tim Rose, Chris White and a hundred more. Life is a lottery.



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3 comentarios:

Joselino dijo...

Excelente trabajo desgraciadamente relegado al olvido.
Añadir que el tema "Pigeons" salió (por aquel entonces) en un LP recopilatorio del sello (Chrysalis) incluyendo otros artistas del sello, como Jethro Tull y Procol Harum.

leigh dijo...

I was Laurie's best friend in London and we went to Colorado to University together where she became part of a band called Little Brown. She played in LA and opened for some big groups as well. She so very sadly got ill with hepatitus and moved back to Texas where her parents had retired.
She was a wonderful singer and songwriter - we sat at my piano days, nights, weekends singing and playing. I so wish her songs would be picked up by someone and recorded. Have suggested it to Hugh Murphy a few years ago - not long after she died - but no luck.
I am the Gemini Girl

Sebastián Paredes dijo...

Thanks for your comment, Leigh.

It sure must have been so nice to share all those moments with such a great artist.

We humbly keep here her memory and her music.

Good luck, Gemini Girl!

:-)