Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Song A Day: Michaelangelo, "Son (We've Kept the Room Just the Way You Left It)"



JUNE 20, 2017

“SON (WE’VE KEPT THE ROOM JUST THE WAY YOU LEFT IT)” (WRITER: ANGEL PETERSON)

ARTIST: MICHAELANGELO

RELEASED 1971 ON ONE VOICE MANY LP

Here’s one of the more obscure major label records you’ll find. Columbia issued this, the only album by Michaelangelo, with little fanfare. And little fanfare it received in turn from the world. But despite its lack of success, One Voice Many was remarkable in several ways.

First off, this four-piece New York group was headed by a lithe brunette named Angel Peterson who played electric autoharp, wrote songs, and sang them. Guitarist/singer Steve Bohn, bassist Robert Gorman, and drummer Michael Hackett provided sensitive support for the softer songs and could rock the house too. And had major league hair.

The group’s material tended toward folk-rock and pop-rock. At its best it sounded like nothing else, held together by the open, jangling, baroque-via-NYC sound of the autoharp. Both singers were talented, and the whole band was tight.

Another interesting thing about One Voice Many is that it was among the first, if not the first, major label rock album to be produced by a woman.

Rachel Elkind-Tourre, an electronic composer and instrumentalist, had produced Wendy (nee Walter) Carlos’ hit Switched-on Bach, and in fact had conceived the phenomenally successful project. She also later co-wrote incidental music for The Shining. Ms. Elkind-Tourre met the band in New York City, got the gig, and did a wonderful job on One Voice Many.

Sadly, despite a strong visual image, good playing, and fine songs, Michaelangelo was doomed by things it couldn’t control—a typical story for bands that never quite "make it." Years later, Elkind-Tourre stated that some kind of feud between her and Columbia Records boss Clive Davis meant that the company refused to provide promotional muscle to the Michaelangelo album. The dispirited band soon broke up.

My favorite track on the album is “Son,” a rocker that pretty much sums up the unbridgeable problems between some parents and some kids during the late 60s and early 70s. I won’t tell you more; Peterson’s perceptive, heartbreaking lyrics and Bohn's desperate vocal pretty much cover it.



2 comments:

  1. Hey there,

    This is quite nice, and interesting, too - yet another group I've never heard of. The breadth of your musical knowledge is wondrous to me. The title of this song led me to believe there would be a dialogue between parent and son (as in the Cat Stevens song), and as I kept waiting for that to happen, it got a bit distracting. A case (for me, anyway) of being too clever with the title. Quite an interesting sound and good song!

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    1. Ah, Bob, thank you for that compliment...but your depth and breadth in these matters is as big if not bigger than mine. I assume the title of the song was the mother's attempt to communicate, and the fact that there was no conversation is in itself indicative...

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