Because somehow you can't really feel sorry for Melanie. She arouses pity; but the damn posturing of her situation (she's 22, not 15) gets in the way of honest reaction.… Read More
When she's not busy being Streisand, Temple, Garland and Buffy St. Marie with a little Gracie Allen thrown in on the side, and when she concentrates on being Melanie, she can really get to you. Like on "Momma, Momma," for instance, or "Bo Bo's Party." Her voice, her lyrics, her guitar all work for her to produce a tight unit of action and reaction.
The entourage of imitations present on so many other cuts, however, is a royal pain the catch in her throat, purposely ungrammatical phrasings, childish Brook-lynesque drawl. You can catch her, sometimes, enjoying herself for real, minus the sticky Christopher Robin pose (midway into "Animal Crackers" for example), but it's almost as if she catches herself at the same moment you do and slips back into Kiddieland before you can be sure she's left it.
How refreshing then, you feel, it will be to turn to Nico, whom you presume has been everywhere, seen it all, and is not about to react with grief-stricken pleas for help with any part of it. As a matter of fact, she doesn't react with anything. To anything.
The Marble Index is hardly rock, though it exhibits sound trips that have found their way onto many a rock record electronic chamber music, various sound effects, instrumental Gregorian chant. It's mood music, with an obscure and elusive text recited over it.
Along about the next to the last song on the first side ("Ari's Song"), you begin to develop a faint suspicion that perhaps the words are not what's important after all. The harder you try to hold them (like the natural state of affairs with things in conflict in the universe), the more easily they escape. Once you're on to this, you're home free, and side two is a really worthwhile venture into musical infinity (or at least a try at it). It's mood, escape, consciousness, unconsciousness, vacuity, yes, Wonderland.
Man is, after all, highly susceptible to moods, as anyone who's ever fingered a few elementary chords on piano or guitar can attest. What remains to be seen is whether both. Nico and Melanie can get beyond the fingering stage to a valid (for Melanie), consistent and believable (for Nico) realization of the moods that they've established. Nico seems to be running far ahead ... unless, of course, you're one of those Who Think Young. (RS 29)
ANNE MARIE MICKLO