Dana Valery - Phantom BPL1-1124
This 1975 album by Female Vocalist DANA VALERY is a very underrated, must be heard classic. Italian-born Dana had been singing for well over a decade , cutting her first records in , of all places, South Africa. There she recorded for Columbia, and had several 45's released in the US also, including her soulful version of Paul Simon's YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOUR INTEREST LIES. She also had played on the stage, made TV appearances and cut other singles as well. She also is the sister to the late singer SERGIO FRANCHI. Her first US album was in 1972 with the Soul label, Brunswick, NOT THE FLOWER BUT THE ROOT. In 1975, she worked with ex-Mountain guitarist/vocalist/songwriter LESLIE WEST on his album, THE GREAT FATSBY, and also on this, her self-titled 2nd album. Both Dana's and West's albums may have been been recorded simaltaneously, as both came out in 1975, have the same musicians playing on both albums and were released on PHANTOM RECORDS.
DANA VALERY is a great album of both rock, and some rock ballads. She's got an excellent voice that can sing out with power, or softer with restraint. Her version of the LOBO hit I'D LOVE YOU TO WANT ME is a perfect song for her, with acoustic guitars that build up as her voice carries the song to new heights. Neil Sedaka's SOLITAIRE is also in the same vein, another great take that stands apart from other versions. Biggest surprise is her version of The Rolling Stones' PLAY WITH FIRE. The production is a mix of powerful lead & background vocals, guitars and an atmospheric production. Sort of conjures up mysticism, and expands the short Stones version into a longer rock jam. LESLIE WEST surrounds Dana with production and playing that does not get in the way of the main attraction, her voice.
A mix of rock with some noteworthy ballads make this album a consistent listening experience. Other rockers include POWER TO ALL OUR FRIENDS, TO BE ALIVE, and MUSIC AND MY MAN , the latter 2 songs of which Dana co-wrote with Leslie and others . The more acoustic ballad oriented songs include the exquisite Paul Williams-Roger Nichols penned I NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD and Jimmy Cliff's MANY RIVERS TO CROSS. The Beatles' OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA is a fun version that opens up Side 2. Musicians include LESLIE WEST, CORKY LAING, HOWIE WYETH, DON KRETMAR, FRANK VICARI, TIM SAUNDERS, and SREDNI VOLLMER. Produced by LESLIE WEST at the renowned ELECTRIC LADY STUDIOS in New York.
This is a great, initially overlooked album that is being listened to today more than when it was released. Coupled with West's THE GREAT FATSBY, on which Dana contributed many lead & background vocals, this has some excellent music that stands the test of time.