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Shivaree


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Country-rock, traces of electronica

Status:

Most recent release, Tainted Love: Mating Calls and Fight Songs (covers, 2007); most recent release of original material, Who's Got Trouble (2005)

See also:

Wikipedia's entry on Shivaree

Comparisons:

Mazzy Star, Garbage, Julie Miller, Lisa Cerbone, Sheryl Crow

Covers/own material:

Most songs written by Ambrosia Parsley

General comments:

I've heard Shivaree described as "Southern Gothic" which somehow sounds appropriate, even though I don't really know what it means. The band is VERY eclectic, stylistically. And Ambrosia Parsley's voice is so versatile: sometimes childish, at other times, beguiling and sexy. Apparently the title of their debut comes from an episode of Green Acres. Overall, it's a pretty dark album. Dark as in melancholy, a lovely, mysterious, alluring melancholy. With a twisted sense of humor. (JoAnn Whetsell)

The lead singer, Ambrosia Parsley, grew up singing standards and it comes across in the music. I have no idea how to describe the group, though. They've got a little slink to them, a little twang, a little pop, a little indie, a little rock, and a little jazz. My favorite Shivaree track is "You Daring Lousy Guy". Subtitles from a Kungfu movie put to a strange, slinky pop tune. (1/00, paul2k@aol.com)

I have their album (I Oughtta Give You A Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in This Dump) and really like a few of the songs—particularly "Goodnight Moon". It's pretty varied stylistically and I've found them hard to pin down. Vocally the lead singer reminds me a little of Julie Miller, a little of Lisa Cerbone. I think they're worth checking out, but certainly wouldn't call them an ecto must-have. (jjhanson@att.net)

Comments about live performance:

I actually did get to see them live in concert a while back because i know the drummer in the band and I just went on his say. I had no idea who they were but if they go to a town near you definitely check them out. they put on a really great show. I won't lie, the lead singer is okay—voice wise, nothing spectacular—but overall the show is worth going to. (8/00, mystic18@earthlink.net)

I saw them open for the Beautiful South last fall and was unimpressed (partly because the sound was terrible, partly because they just didn't seem to be playing together). I had hoped for better after reading the review in billboard last winter. (1/01, paul2k@aol.com)

Recommended first album:

I Oughtta Give You A Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in This Dump

Recordings:


I Oughtta Give You A Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in This Dump

Release info:

1999—Capitol/Odeon—CDP 7243 8 38246 2 5

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Ambrosia Parsley—vocals, backing vocals, guitar
Danny McGough—knife, synthesizer, guitar, organs, keyboards, Lowrey organ, bass pedals, electric piano, backing vocals
Duke McVinnie—guitars, bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, backing vocals

Guest artists:

Tony Mangurian—drums
Phil Hernandez—drums
Jim Keltner—drums, percussion
Danny Frankel—percussion
Mickey Petralia—drum loops
Greg Leisz—pedal steel, lap steel
Joey Waronker—drums
Sarah P. Smith—trombone
Gia Giambotti, Sharon Celani—backing vocals

Produced by:

Danny McGough, Joe Henry, Tony Mangurian, Mickey Petralia, Tom Rothrock, Rob Schnapf

Comments:

On one of my regular trawls through the bargain bins of Soho, I reeled in the debut by Shivaree, called I Oughtta Give You A Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in This Dump.
     I've listened to it once, and am instantly captured. Although it came out late last year, it's already up there as my first big album of this year (so, sue me) and I highly recommend it. I can't really describe it—funky/country/trippy/soulful/all of the above. Please, someone, everyone, buy this album and I'm sure you'll find better comparisons than I can come up with. It's distinctive, skewed and lovely, and gave me that same instant thrill that I got when I first encountered Tom McRae and Witness. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

i'll have to find the Shivaree disc and give it another go. i remember liking it, but not being knocked out by it. (dmw@mwmw.com,)

same here. after one listen, i thought it was interesting but it never made it back into the cd player since. (woj@smoe.org)

I've listened to the Shivaree album a few times, and felt it a little too scattered—the only song on it that I think demands to be listened to is "Goodnight Moon"—definitely one of the best songs of the past year. (jjhanson@att.net)

I listened to Jeff's copy of the Shivaree disc several times last year, and was instantly entranced. It's a very intriguing album. I'm surprised it didn't show up on more year-end picks. The scatteredness that others see in it probably explains my interest in it. I have a long history of being enamoured with "scattered" albums. One man's scattered is another's diverse/eclectic/interesting, I guess. (neal)

I was just listening to the Shivaree album, I Oughtta Give You a Shot in the Head.... It's eerie and melancholic, haunting, and languid, wonderful vocals, dark like navy blue skies on rainy summer nights. "Daring Lousy Guy," "Goodnight Moon," and "Arlington Girl" (which reminds me of Sheryl Crow's best songs from her first album) are all great songs. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I thought the Shivaree record was lovely. Also I liked the spooky nature of some songs. I like scary stuff with class. And their singer has an ace name. The album is a late nite thing with lots of mood. The Cowboy Junkies produced by Angelo Badalamenti. Parsley's voice is delightfully soft and sinister by turns. "Goodnight Moon" is a hit in any fair universe, one of last year's best songs. "Arlington Girl" makes me weep. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

i love this album. it makes me happy and smiley. by the second half, i'm a little distracted, but it is still a strong album and i can't wait to hear what they do next time out. 'goodnight moon' is the stand out track for me, others being 'lunch' and #2, i'm blanking on the name and i don't have the cd in front of me. it's actually one of the first cds i've bought all year that really stuck with me. (been kind of a pathetic year thus far...) (sketches@earthlink.net)


Rough Dreams

Release info:

2002—Capitol Records—7243 5 31337 2 6

Availability:

Wide, but only as an import in the US

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Ambrosia Parsley—vocals
Danny McGough—lowrey organ, bass kalimba, drum accordion, keyboards, bass, harmonica, vox organ, mellotron, bosch modulator, chamberlin, glass synthesizer, piano, hammond organ, firebird, vocals, backing vocals
Duke McVinnie—bantar, guitars, bass, 6-string bass, ashtray, vocals

Guest artists:

Phil Hernandez—digital crowbar, duct tape, drums, programming, drum programming
Chris Maxwell—guitars, fuzz bass, keyboards, invisible bells, bass, surf style
Jane Scarpantoni—cello, string arrangements
Joan Wasser—violin
Steven Bernstein—trumpet
Joey Waronker—drums
Don Byron—clarinet
Duke Hernandez—solo kaoss
Stephen Hodges—metals, kevlar box, clicker, shards, drums
Pablo Aslan—contrabass
Hector Del Curto—bandonion
Leonardo Suarez Paz—violin
Joe Cripps—bongos
Michael Blake—saxophone
Doug Scott—guitars
James Cruz—drums
Scott Minor—programming
Davey Faragher, Jenny Muldaur, Amy Helm—backing vocals

Produced by:

Elegant Too, Danny McGough, Micky P., Shivaree, Victor Van Vugt, Paul Dugre

Comments:

Shivaree is back with another group of songs with eclectic influences—all the same ones from their first album, more electric, and some electronica too. Unfortunately, the album doesn't really gel for me until track 8, the wonderful first single, "John 2" which reminds me of "Goodnight, Moon." The rest of the album is fantastic. One of the early exceptions is track 3, "After the Prince and the Showgirl" which has these tinkling bells that make it sound like it came from the '60s. And there's another track that sounds like '70s soundtrack music (which sounds bad, but I don't mean it too; I really like it). Maybe it's an uneven album or the first songs might just need to grow on me more. Probably both.
     It still hasn't been released in the US, and I had to order it from ABSound. All in all, I'd say if you really loved the first album, go ahead and track this down. If you weren't that high on the first album, I'd wait for a US release. Of course, if you live outside the US, that's not a problem, and I'd recommend it either way. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Breach

Release info:

2004—Zoë Records—01143-2006-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Duke McVinnie
Danny McGough
Ambrosia Parsley

Guest artists:

George Javori
Michael Duclos
Chris Maxwell
Phil Hernandez
Ed Harcourt
Scott Bondy
Don Heffington
Doug Weiselman
Bertrand Burgalat
Amy Helm
Matt Cartsonis

Produced by:

Victor Van Vugt, Brandon Mason, Shivaree, Danny McGough, Martin Brumbach

Comments:

Shivaree's Breach ep is both a mini-preview of the band's forthcoming album, Who's Got Trouble? and a solid ep in its own right. The new style is a combination of the best elements of their two previous releases, a return to the eclectic can't-quite-pin-it-down bluesy country-rock of I Oughtta Give You a Shot in the Head... and some of the electronica of Rough Dreams, most prominent on their cover of Brian Eno's "The Fat Lady of Limbourg." The second song, an original from the new album, "I Close My Eyes" is catchy classic Shivaree.
     The 3 ep-only tracks are all good too; my favorite of them is "Strange Boat," the duet with Ed Harcourt. They end with a new original, "657 Bed B," a twangy country song that might sound out of place on someone else's album but here only highlights the band's range. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Who's Got Trouble?

Release info:

2005—Zoë Records—01143-1045-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Ambrosia Parsley
Duke McVinnie
Danny McGough

Guest artists:

Mike Duclos—bass
Fred Cash—bass
George Javori—drums & percussion
Phil Hernandez—drums & percussion
Chris Maxwell—guitar
Doug Weiselman—guitar
Jane Scarpantoni—cello, string arrangements
Maxim Mosten—violin
Joan Wasser—violin
Amy Helm—backing vocals
Bertrand Burgalat—rhodes
Matthias Froidefond—eggman
Dave Ayers—private eye
Paul Cantelon—played Satie (5)
Steven Bernstein (Sex Mob)—valve & slide trumpets (4), horn arrangements
Briggan Kraus (Sex Mob)—saxophone (4)
Tony Scherr (Sex Mob)—bass (4)
Kenny Wolleson (Sex Mob)—drums (4)

Produced by:

Victor Van Vugt, Brandon Mason, Elegant Too

Comments:

After the wonderful Breach ep, I was really looking forward to Who's Got Trouble? The album's sound veers in a different direction than the ep, sort of into a dark universe all its own with lighter touches that remind me of a music box or a merry-go-round ride and lots of electronic noises for good measure. There are lots of influences here, but I can't quite grasp them. Cabaret? Somewhat. Blues? A bit. Something slightly ethnic—gypsy perhaps? Maybe it's not what it's made of but what it makes me feel. That would be a smoky, seedy bar on a dark night, with light rain outside, and something vaguely dangerous going on. It's a strange and eclectic mix, and I admire Shivaree for their ability to pull it off, which mostly they do. It's not my usual cup of tea, but its growing on me with every listen. Highlights are "Little Black Mess" with its intro of Satie!, "It Got All Black," and "I Will Go Quietly." (JoAnn Whetsell)

Tainted Love: Mating Calls and Fight Songs

Release info:

2007—Zoë Records—01143-1092-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Ambrosia Parsley—vocals
Danny McGough—keys, bass, guitars, vocals
Duke McVinnie—guitar, bass

Guest artists:

Chris Maxwell—guitar, bass, keys, backing vocals
Phil Hernandez—drums, programming, bass, guitar, keys, backing vocals
Benjamin Biolay—guitar, keys, brass, violin, backing vocals
Matthew Cullen—programming
Doug Weiselman—reeds, guitar, programming
Scott Bondy—guitar, bass, keys, vocals
Kevin Salem—backing vocals (1, 7)
Joe Majistro—drums (7)

Produced by:

Benjamin Biolay (1, 7); Chris Maxwell and Phil Hernandez (2, 8, 9, 11); Mickey Petralia (3); Doug Weiselman (4); Duke McVinnie and Matthew Cullen (5); Danny McGough (6, 10)

Comments:

I've now listened to it several times. The list of covers is a wild group that holds fantastic promise, as does the apparent "concept" behind the album: a bunch of musicians in trouble with the law. It's full of possibilities, or so I thought. Unfortunately, Ambrosia Parsley's voice is the only difference between some of the originals and the covers, and it comes down in some cases to a bad cover of a bad song. After getting the CD, I listened to it, but only to "hear" it, and I've not pulled it out since. I doubt I will. The CD starts off with the Phil Spector spectacle, "Paradise." It's nice (in the most generic sense of that word). Shivaree has the distinction of never living up to what I imagine they might do (even with their own music.) R. Kelly's "Half on a Baby" is a disaster of epic proportions. Chuck Berry's "I Want to Be Your Driver" is ruined by the sound. (It may have seemed like a good idea, but it doesn't carry for me.) I'm sure it was intentional, but it sounds like Berry-era own noisy recordings before any clean-up. Staying very true to Spade Cooley's "Shame on You" works, and Nikki Sixx's "Looks That Kill" seems to fit the best with what I think of as the Shivaree sound and is listenable, just listenable, as this whole CD seems to be. "Hello Hello I'm Back Again" (Gary Glitter & Mike Leander) is pretty darn catchy. After all that other crap, it made me smile. Rick James would be proud of "Cold Blooded"—take that as you will. The "biggie" here, Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," was the only one with which they took some liberties. It's still not enough in many ways. Unfortunately, it seems more of a purposeful aural spectacle (or public masturbation) than a good cover.
     It feels like they didn't even bother to re-arrange anything given their particular sound or influences or anything. They just took the original songs and played them like your local garage band when they get a gig at the local bar. (c.f. the Leadbelly version of "Goodnight Irene" compared to this cover.) To my thinking a cover should add something, and certainly not take something away. This interesting concept stays just that—a concept. The promise isn't fulfilled, and the album ends up sounding like a tribute to staying pure to the music. It's a shame that the sardonic side of this concept album is missing, and that Ambrosia Parsley's voice is put to absolutely no purpose. I want to say "Shame on You" to them. They just didn't run with the idea or the music or anything.
     Overall, I think they stayed WAY too true to the original tunes of these songs, and in doing so, they fall quite short of making them their own or making their "concept" hold up. Instead they end up just making a mess. (ellamcc@thehiss.net)

Shivaree begins the liner notes to Tainted Love by saying "One of the many universal truths about love is, of course, that it's strange." Which is an accurate description of the album as well. The original songs are of widely different styles and have wildly different conceptions of love (or somewhat related emotions like lust). The success of the covers differs widely too, and I suspect the album is more enjoyable to people like me who aren't familiar with most of the originals. Like most Shivaree albums, this one is uneven. I really like the chilled-down, sexed-up "Half on a Baby" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." "Looks That Kill" is another good track. "Paradise" is nice in a forgettable way, and "Would You Lay With Me" is forgettable in a not-so-nice way (the vocals are okay, but there are some strange sounds going on underneath). "My Heart Belongs to You" with its horns and slightly circus-y feel doesn't entirely work but has the most typical Shivaree sound, along with the slightly honky-tonk "Shame On You." Overall, there's probably enough worthwhile material for long-time fans, but the band would probably have been better off making an EP. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2015-05-25 01:36:54.
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