Monday, July 09, 2007
GEORGE MELLY In the Electric Chair
Just last year he was working with Van Morrison, resisting cancer treatment, continuing to tour, and vowing to have a damn good time to the end. He did. George Melly died July 5th, at 80.
Your download sample of this eccentric retro-jazz singer is "Send Me to the Electric Chair," a murderer's hip howl:
"Judge yo' honor, hear my plea...I don't want no sympathy, I slit my woman's throat! I found her with another man, I warned her 'bout it before. I took a knife and...the rest you oughta know! Oh judge, judge, good Mister Judge...wanna pay a visit to the devil down below..."
Melly was way too lively to really want to off himself before his time...in fact, it took a sly Illfolks photo-collage to actually stick him into an electric chair.
The barrelhouse melody sounds a bit like "Low Down Alligator" mixed with "Oh You Engineer" while the singing owes something to the first person who popularized it, Bessie Smith.
Born in Liverpool, Melly vowed to bring American classic jazz to new audiences, and sang with Mike Mulligan's Magnolia Jazz Band in the 50's, and John Chilton's Feetwarmers from the 70's onward. Aside from music, he wrote the comic strip "Flook," was an art critic and put together a three-volume autobiography.
The talented Melly was also adept at bisexual sex and was a cheerful exhibitionist. At parties he might strip naked and twist his bulky body from man to imitation woman, and then on all fours, a bulldog!
Last year he recorded his final album, "The Ultimate Melly" with Van Morrison guesting. Last month he made his final stage performances fronting the Digby Fairweather Band.
One of the last of the bohemians, in later years his coy garb and eye patch making him look like a butt pirate, Melly could discuss art with an intellectual, or sing dirty songs to a bar maid. His obit in Britain's "The Telegraph" mentioned Melly was survived by his second wife and had gone from homosexual to "bisexual on his way to being a mighty camp heterosexual." Typical of his flamboyance was his appearance at a 1985 exhibit, "Salute to British Surrealism." The paintings weren't the show: "The entire art world had come from London for the opening and there was George wandering around naked."
Here's an electrifying performance from the Unchained Melly Instant download or listen on line. No waiting, code numbers or porn ads.