Thursday, 3 January 2013

Top 102 Albums. No. 72 Nancy & Lee

Top 102 Albums. No. 72 
Nancy & Lee - Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood

Some velvet morning when I'm straight
I'm gonna open up your gate

Lee Hazlewood has one of the most recognisable voices in popular music. We enter this album, with Lee singing You've Lost That Loving Feeling from somewhere lower than the Mariana Trench. He also has one of the most skewed visions. On this album his deep baritone is perfectly counterpointed by Nancy Sinatra's breathy, innocent yet knowing voice.

The best duetting couples tend to have some duelling at the heart of the songs and there is plenty of that here, flavoured with humour, particularly on Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman and Jackson. Indeed the presence of Jackson is also likely to be noted on another album of duets later in this list. (Can you guess which one?)

I met him in a Greenwich village coffee nook 
He was selling folk songs and little dirty books
The place was full of happy hop'd up hippies at the time
All mornin' long he hadn't made a dime

However it is the ineffable strangeness of some of Lee Hazlewood's songs that really lifts this album. Just listen to Summer WineSundownSundownSome Velvet Morning and Sand. They sound like the soundtrack to some strange existential western, with Lee and Nancy a pair of mysterious nomads crossing a land of sand and sunsets and strange velvet mornings, drunk on tequila and chewing peyote. Some of the other songs sound like they are there to convince the record company executives that they are not mad to release this record.

Even the less strange Ladybird is odd by the standards of mere mortals. And as for I've Been Down So Long (It Looks Like Up To Me) you don't really need to do anything else other than intone the title, do you?

(Nancy) I put my finger in his mind's eye
And I've given him a reason now to cry
I put his song of life in the wrong key
(Lee) I've been down so long it looks like up to me

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