Bette Davis is a legend of the cinema, the ultimate classic Hollywood star. Her style and attitude have had a cultural impact that goes far beyond the screen. And now, finally, her impact on musical inspiration will go far beyond “Bette Davis Eyes.”
THREE ON A MATCH is a new songwriting project from songwriters Neil Carlill (Lodger, Delicatessen), Jeff Mellin (The Eddies, Miss Mary) & King Toad (Furious Skinny, The Michael Tabors). Inspired by the films of the great Bette Davis, their songs draw on plot elements, characters, actors, biographic details, or, in some cases, the film titles alone.
Carlill (fresh from his collaboration with Duran Duran’s Warren Cuccurullo) and Mellin (fresh from his own recordings with the Velvet Underground’s Doug Yule) had been looking to collaborate for years, and decided the best place to start would be their shared love of old movies. And of course, the films of Ms. Davis were at the top of their list.
“Each Bette Davis film resonates with me in its own way,” says Carlill. At times he finds inspiration in of the back story, rumor mill and pop-culture trivia because “the surrounding mythology yields too much comedy, irony and tragedy to go un-eulogized.” He conceived abstract character sketches and highlighted iconic lines to evoke the films’ atmosphere and to produce a musical structure “that sets the listener quite literally off-balance.”
Mellin says that Bette Davis movies are "perfect seeds for songs." His approach was to focus on the titles alone: "I wanted to let the raw sound and rhythm of the words shape the songs’ creation, knowing there’d be no escaping the inherent aesthetics and my own subconscious associations." He says the titles’ infuse the songs with a “vintage mystique” and “cinematic narrative” that results in the “sort of memory dream you might’ have falling asleep to Turner Classic Movies.”
To fill out the trio, Carlill brought in King Toad, who found inspiration characters, dialog and even historical context. “My approach was different for each track,” says Toad. He comes at the material from perspectives inside an out of the film, and deals with plot elements, controversies surrounding the films, the overall sense and feel of the films, as well as their unifying roots. “Both "Of Human Bondage" & "The Letter" are based on the works of W. Somerset Maugham,” he notes. “I was happy to be able to write songs for the pair.”
These three varied approaches yield an album that is complex, witty, dark and even romantic -- not unlike Ms. Davis herself. Sticking to minimal, mostly acoustic arrangements, the three artists create a mood that evokes the playfulness of a Saturday matinee, the nostalgia of an old movie house and the solitude of private screening.The thirteen songs span Davis' entire career, from early pre-code romps like “Cabin In The Cotton” and “Parachute Jumper” through her artistic heights of "Dark Victory" and “All About Eve” and and up to the high camp of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and “Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”
To celebrate Bette Davis' 103rd birthday, the album will be pre-released as a name-your-own-price download on April 5. Stereorrific Recordings will officially release the album on matchbook (yes, real matchbooks) as high-quality download and then as a limited edition CD package, complete with film canister, imagined movie still, and a 28-page book on May 26.
released 26 May 2011
NEIL CARLILL was a founding member of DELICATESSEN (Rough Trade/Big Life), who recorded three albums on the 90s alternative/experimental scene. He later was part of Lodger (Island Records), who landed the track ‘I’m Leaving’ in the UK Top 40. Neil is also currently one half of CHICANERY with Duran Duran's Warren Cuccurullo. Neil has also worked on other projects including ME ME THE MOTH with Marcelo Radulovich, VEDETTE with Manuel Stagars and Jayrope, 5 LITTLE ELEPHANTS with Charles-Eric Charrier and SHOOSH with Craig Murphy and Ed Drury.
JEFF MELLIN is a multi-disciplinary artist, singer, guitarist and songwriter whose jangling melodies and crafted lyrics blend Americana with Mersey Beat and sun-shower pop. The former front man for the 90s Boston-based twangle-pop group THE EDDIES has released a series of classic pop and melancholic swamp-folk recordings including Jeff Mell!n Saves The World, Parts 1ne & 2we (Stereorrific) and Good For A Gander (Stereorrific). His most recent solo CD, Love Is Made Of Sky (Stereorrific/dPulse) features the Velvet Underground's Doug Yule, members of SHRAG, & "Orange" Nichole Clarke. His lyrics have been anthologized in "Skin & Bones" (Kolourmeim Press) and his songs have been covered by indie artists including Miss Mary, Death by Chocolate, Superdrive and Slide.
KING TOAD (Jamal River) was born & raised in Iowa City, IA. He's been self-releasing music for the past 15 years since the age of 17, first on the independent Iowa City label Bla/NK, later on his own. He has released seven official albums under the name King Toad, the most recent being 2008's "Why Am I So Romantic?" His music explores various styles & instrumentation, but generally leans toward keeping things fast, catchy & short. Lyrically the tone is often darker, frequently touching on themes of death, depression & mental illness. He was a songwriter & multi-instrumentalist for THE MICHAEL TABORS in '04 & '05, and has produced one album and several live recordings for monster-rock group FURIOUS SKINNY. He has written songs & soundtracks for various projects, from film & video to live theater.
JOEL MELLIN - drums on "Dark Victory"
Mastered by PETE WEISS at Verdant Studios, Athens VT (www.weissy.com
Some rights reserved. Please refer to individual track pages for license info.
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