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Patty Waters - You Thrill Me

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Artist: Patty Waters

Album: You Thrill Me

Label: Water

Review date: Oct. 5, 2004

Never mind that 10 of this CD’s 15 tracks were recorded in 1970 or later, after Patty Waters had left New York City; You Thrill Me is really a prequel to the singer’s epochal mid-'60s recordings for ESP. Waters (along with Byron Coley and Ghost’s Masaki Batoh) has contributed liner notes that date the origin of the brief, jewel-like originals that make up most of the record to an early-'60s sojourn in Southern California, and while she may have recorded them after she left New York, they show no trace of the hair-raising free vocalizing showcased on Patty Waters Sings and College Tour.

The biggest influence on display here is Billie Holiday, whose phrasing Waters mimics on “Fine and Mellow.” Like her heroine, Waters refrains from scatting or otherwise stretching out the songs. She also projects a romantically hungry and sexually knowing persona, leavened on “Spring Is Here” and “Please Make Love To Me” with adolescent innocence.

Time has taken its toll on these performances, which were culled from Waters’ personal archive of tapes and acetates. Several enjoy the campfire crackle of surface noise, one 1970 session is marred by an out-of-tune piano, and one tune sounds like it’s been slightly sped up.

One of the gems here is Waters’ turn on a commercial for Jax beer; given what would come, it’s truly bizarre to hear her extolling the beverage’s mellowness. Then there are three demos recorded with the legendary producer Tom Wilson, who comes across like an over-baked boor on the preserved studio dialogue.

“Touched By Rodin In A Paris Museum” wears out its welcome a bit. Alone at the piano, Waters sounds like she’s playing to herself as she picks out impressionistic melodies. It’s nice, but at 14:37, way too long. Of course, if you're already under Patty Waters’ spell, you might also be charmed by this quieter foray into excess.

By Bill Meyer

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