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Dana Gillespie - What Memories We Make, The Complete Mainman Recordings 1971 – 1974 (Cherry Red Records)

3 July 2019

This is by no means a conventional release, what may stir a wonderment on the outside actually contains some killer tracks on the inside. English songstress and actress Dana Gillespie is a deep-rooted folk/blues singer, a talent that conveys a hauntingly soulful voice. What makes this set of recordings standout, is actually given away in the title; The Complete Mainman Recordings. The connection is then made to the late David Bowie. That label Mainman was the rights management company set up by Bowie’s ex-manager Tony DeFries. Apart from David Bowie, Mainman also handled artists, and launched the careers of Iggy Pop, Mott The Hoople and in this instance, Dana Gillespie. Gillespie herself performs backing vocals on the track “It Ain’t Easy”, from Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

The recordings made within that early seventies time period were essential, and inspiring releases, all of which are represented here. This is a treasure trove, even if it seems slightly obscure, the surprise is in the sound. Those involved in the creative process, and the edge that Gillespie sought to become more relevant in the seventies makes What Memories We Make. This is, make no mistake a thoroughly enjoyable listen containing effervescent versions of the Bowie penned “Andy Warhol”. The track which Bowie himself would release on Hunky Dory (1971) makes three appearances. Reason in part is due to the fact that the song was written especially for Gillespie. She recorded it in 1971, but her version of the song was not released until 1973 on her album Weren’t Born a Man. That aforementioned album was produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson, given the same attention that was placed on Lou Reed’s Transformer.

The initial five tracks which kick off the set is the very rare Bowpromo, featuring early and demo workings of “Andy Warhol” along with “Lavender Hill”, whilst good it is the music that follows where things get interesting. The swinging Weren’t Born A Man album, along with alternate takes completes the first disc. A sparkling, positive based affair that hovers somewhere between Janis Joplin and Marianne Faithful. There are some standout crackers, such as a full version of “All Cut Up On You” which blisters with the best of them. Skipping between soul-inspired pop and a raw-intense rock, Gillespie remains sultry throughout. Twisting in the sexualized world of the damaged heart. Closing out with the rare Libido single “Hold onto your fire”, again something of a lost gem.

The second disc is Gillespie’s second album Ain’t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle. Suggested by the name, this recording is submerged in the roots of folk music. Tracks such as “Pack Your Bags” and “Wandelust” sit nicely beside “Get My Rocks Off” and “Getting Through To Me”. Also, making up the second disc is what would have been Gillespie’s third album for Mainman. It is represented here as five tracks from 1974. Although only demos, “Goin’ Crazy With The Blues” and “Gone At The Game” give a decent indication of where Gillespie was heading musically.

The set closes out with the final version, and rarest mix of “Andy Warhol” (Included below). Personally this is the best of the three versions, and possess a statement of how good Dana Gillespie was when allowed. All said and done this is a worthwhile adventure into a much underrated singer, the connection to Bowie and Ronson adds to the flavor and unmistakable sound. But as expected by Cherry Red Records there is a short though comprehensive 24-page booklet to browse through as the tracks play out.

Track List:

DISC ONE: 1971 PROMO LP
1. MOTHER, DON’T BE FRIGHTENED *
2. ANDY WARHOL
3. NEVER KNEW *
4. ALL CUT UP ON YOU *
5. LAVENDER HILL *

WEREN’T BORN A MAN LP
6. STARDOM ROAD PART I
STARDOM ROAD PART II
7. WHAT MEMORIES WE MAKE
8. DIZZY HEIGHTS
9. ANDY WARHOL
10. BACKED A LOSER
11. WEREN’T BORN A MAN
12. MOTHER, DON’T BE FRIGHTENED
13. ALL CUT UP ON YOU
14. ETERNAL SHOWMAN
15. ALL GONE

ALTERNATIVE VERSIONS
16. LAVENDER HILL
17. NEVER KNEW

LIBIDO SINGLE
18. HOLD ON TO YOUR FIRE
19. WEREN’T BORN A MAN

DISC TWO: AIN’T GONNA PLAY NO SECOND FIDDLE LP
1. AIN’T GONNA PLAY NO SECOND FIDDLE
2. REALLY LOVE THE MAN
3. HOLD ME GENTLY
4. DON’T MIND ME
5. PACK YOUR BAGS
6. NO TAIL TO WAG
7. GET MY ROCKS OFF
8. WANDERLUST
9. GETTING THROUGH TO ME
10. NEVER KNEW

AIN’T GONNA PLAYOUTTAKE
11. MAN SIZE JOB *

OCTOBER 1974 DEMOS
12. STOKE THE ENGINE *
13. GOINCRAZY WITH THE BLUES *
14. SAY GOODNIGHT TO THE NIGHT *
15. DO THE SPIN *
16. GONE AT THE GAME *

ORIGINAL DEMO
17. ANDY WARHOL *

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