Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Uncle Wonderful [Import, remastered]
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
The basics: Produced by Janis Ian & Arti Funaro; recorded at Wilder Bros. Studio, Los Angeles, through 1983, released in Australia 1984."Heart Skip" co-written with Dan Hartman. (Festival). Inside scoop: After a few yea... more »
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The basics: Produced by Janis Ian & Arti Funaro; recorded at Wilder Bros. Studio, Los Angeles, through 1983, released in Australia 1984."Heart Skip" co-written with Dan Hartman. (Festival). Inside scoop: After a few years away, Janis missed recording, so she assembled a band in Los Angeles and began recording with her own money. They had a wonderful time, but no US company would touch the album. Janis still considers it "a wonderful album for a musician, but very transitional". Her new manager was convinced age was a big factor in his inability to secure placement for the album; hence the strange cover, where Janis looks younger than she did on Stars! Says Janis: "The weird album. People love it or hate it. I really like it, but then again I'm biased." Digitally remastered, with complete album artwork.
Janis's "red' period
J. Evans | New York, NY | 01/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I happen to think Uncle is a strong work, impaired only occasionally by some techno-pop arrangements. Lyrically, it's hardly a departure at all from what we're used to from Janis. (I disagree with the reviewer from Seattle who found it difficult to believe Janis could have made this album.) It features some excellent musicians, and Brooks Arthur (Stars, Between the Lines) co-produced with Janis. "Mechanical Telephone" is brilliant, and my favorite track. It picks up where "Between the Lines" (the song) left off. You can't get more "Janis" than: Now we rarely talk alone / We usually speak in groups / to the people you invite / for the theatre and a bite / who are used to you. -or- Bet you thought I'd be an easy lay / I bet you thought I lived alone / hungry for the vision and the afterplay / I've had better times alone.As for some of the arrangements, they're not my favorite either, but you have to remember the time during which this was recorded. Popular music was undergoing a major transformation in the early-mid '80s, and it's reflected here. For me, finally, all the songs here connect to other Janis Ian songs, and to the characters who inhabit them. For example: the 'she' in "Just a Girl" appears again as 'I' in "Play Like a Girl" (God & the FBI). The sick, sad characters in the song "Uncle Wonderful" revisit us in "Breaking Silence" (the song). The ugly duckling girl in "At Seventeen" reappears years later as the self-doubting dreamer in "This Night". Finding these people again, anywhere, having somehow survived, is something to treasure."
Nanci | Tri-Cities, WA USA | 03/19/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I can't believe I've rated a Janis Ian recording at a 3 star! This album, however, is very different. I've played it over and over and gotten comfortable with some of the songs, but overall it just doesn't fit Janis' usual style. "Uncle Wonderful' is a preview of two tracks regarding abuse on her more recent album 'Breaking Silence': "His Hands" and "Breaking Silence". The year it came out was 1985,when Janis' career, personal life and health were in dire straits. She even looks different. "This Night" is a teen angst song, other than that I can't bring myself to really enjoy the songs. They are technically fine, just not the Ian I'm used to."
'uncle' IS wonderful
J. Evans | 11/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a big Janis Ian fan for over 25 years, but this album is so obscure even I hadn't heard about it until over ten years after its release (it was originally released only in Australia and was, according to Janis Ian's website, recorded for a film project). So it's not like any other Janis Ian album? Who cares -- in fact that makes me like it all the more. Uncle is different, with a harder edge than most of her work. You might call it urban pop or dance, it even has an outright disco song, Body Slave. Heart Skip Too Many Beats was written with the late Dan Hartman and is a catchy, bouncy dance tune. Perhaps best are the title song and Mechanical Telephone, two dark, semi-sardonic portraits of people on the edge -- the first being street hustlers and the second most likely Janis herself, who was involved at the time in what she has since revealed was an abusive marriage. It's hard to believe that the creator of Between the Lines also created Uncle Wonderful. That's not a criticism of Uncle, but it is so different than Ian's best-known work that you can't help but be stunned. Count me as a fan of this offbeat, beat-heavy pop music experiment."