Born To Be

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Born to Be, Melanie Safka's 1969 debut, is an intriguing curate's egg. Neither Melanie, nor her producer-husband Peter Schekeryk, seem sure exactly where her strengths lie, so she is cast in a number of roles: Piaf-imitating chanteuse ("In the Hour"), soul-searching, angst-heavy troubadour ("Momma Momma"), giggling novelty figure ("Animal Crackers") and children's entertainer ("Christopher Robin Is Saying His Prayers"). Stranger still, half the time the experiment works; the small ensemble, led by her own enthusiastic (if thoroughly inexpert) guitar playing creates an arty, coffeehouse ambience in which Melanie's idiot-savant act flourishes. But the less said about her attack at "Merry Christmas" the better.

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