Mandy More

But That Is Me

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Mandy More's sole album from 1972 wasn't specifically destined to become a cult classic, but little surprise that, by the time of its extensive 2010 reissue, gathering together both singles cuts and any number of demo and alternate takes besides the album itself, it gained the stature it now has. At once a mainstream pop release and a strange, unexpected collection of unusual songs, But That Is Me features More, most well-known at the time for her work in stage musicals in the U.K., exploring two covers (counting a then-unreleased version of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?") but otherwise performing her own songs, shifting gears constantly between delicate, almost fragile moments and sweeping, literally soaring performances. (A classic example can be heard in the shift between the spectacular ending of "Listen Babe" and the miniature, swift "For to Find the Daffodil," almost a medieval ballad.) It's hard to disagree with high-profile fan Bob Stanley's judgment of More and the album as "proto- Kate Bush" given the prominence of piano throughout, often if not always as lead instrument, in combination with More's vocal energy and sometimes pointed lyrics about emotional life. The album's conclusion is a spectacular version of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" with an uptempo cowbell and wah-wah arrangement that beats the heck out of too-reverent re-creations by half, but it's "If Not by Fire" that ended up becoming the totem for But That Is Me, thanks to its space-synth squelch below More's treated vocal sounding like a broadcast from across decades -- or the stars -- building to a dramatic, rising/falling/rising chorus each time. The various bonus cuts include a number of singles-only songs like "San Francisco Sam" plus a large amount of alternate takes and demos, including some otherwise unrecorded songs. A vocal and piano-only version of "If Not by Fire" makes for a fine contrast to the baroque beauty of the final take.

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