Brave And Crazy

Melissa Etheridge

Island Records, 1989

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When I was in college, a friend of mine (who I haven't spoken with now in almost three years) told me about an artist she was really into, and that she wanted to go out and pick up her latest album at the time. Down in the campus radio station that night, I discovered the album had just been added to the play list, so I slapped it onto the turntable.

Brave And Crazy, the second release from Melissa Etheridge, was that album - and to this day, I prefer her acoustic-based music than her recent turn to rock. Seven years have passed since this one was released, and it still has some of Etheridge's best moments. (I was fortunate enough to meet Melissa while she was touring to promote this album - she's a truly nice person. Somewhere in the picture section of the Pierce Memorial Archives, I have a picture of myself with her - but I think we'll leave that stashed away.)

The opening track, "No Souvenirs," is one of the best songs on the album, despite having one of the corniest lines in rock and roll: "Shame, shame, but I love your name / And the way you make the buffalo roam." (Thank you, Hunter S. Thompson.) Once you get past that small flaw, the song is powerful despite being centered around an acoustic 12-string guitar. Near the end of the song, Etheridge's frantic strumming on the guitar more than once almost brought a tear to my eye. (Am I the only one who wishes Melissa would junk the electric and return to her roots?)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album tackles many different styles of music, from the funk of the title track to bluesy jams ("Royal Station 4/16," featuring a harmonica player with a singlular name - check out the credits for more info) to all-out rockers like "Skin Deep" and "My Back Door." Surprisingly, it is the rocking songs that fall short of the mark, sounding very out of place on the album and for Etheridge.

By far the prettiest moments on the album are on "You Can Sleep While I Drive," a song with little accompaniment except Etheridge's guitar and vocals and fine bass work from Kevin McCormick, and "The Angels," the third single. (The video for this track, which I only saw once on a bootleg video, made me cry. Makes you wonder why there has never been a video compilation of Etheridge's released by Island Home Video. You guys listening, or are you gonna fuck up marketing that like you have most of Melissa's work? But I digress.)

By far, the partnership of Etheridge and McCormick was incredible. His bass work was the perfect springboard for Etheridge and they music they played; the live shows from that time proved how powerful the partnership was. Losing his talent from her band was a blow I don't think she ever recovred from musically.

But there are a few weak moments on Brave And Crazy. The second single, "Let Me Go," was a definite mismatch for Etheridge. The beat was similar to a hit off her debut album, "Chrome Plated Heart," but this track just never clicked. The lengthy live versions didn't help the track much either. (One of these can be found on a promo-only live disc.) Fortunately, there aren't that many mistakes on this album.

Sometimes, when I listen to Brave And Crazy, I think about the now ex-friend who originally turned me on to Etheridge. And while the friendship is now gone, the magic of this album has stayed with me. Allow yourself to feel it as well, and check this album out.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.