Sunday, February 12, 2012

Last And First.

Chances are you will have heard of the death of Whitney Houston when you read this post.  But you probably haven't heard the following before:

Witney Houston's first professional recording as lead vocalist is supposedly this tune, "Memories," from the 1982 album One Down by Material. Material was a group formed in the late '70s by bassist Bill Laswell, and at the time was known for its experimental rock based music. Given the mainstream commercial course of her career the combination seems odd at first glance.  On top of that the song was written by Hugh Hopper of British prog rock pioneers Soft Machine, and had a saxophone solo by jazz musician Archie Shepp.  On the other hand the arrangement of the song itself isn't too far from what Houston would later do, and One Down seems pretty obviously an attempt at a more mainstream, commercial sound than the group's previous releases. 

Houston was an unknown at the time the album was released so her prescense made no difference to its sales at the time.  Conversely I've never seen any indication any significant number of her fans, once she became famous, knew the song existed at all, so the album didn't have a second life.

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