Lene Lovich: Bird Song UK 12″ 
- Bird Song
- Too Tender To Touch [Roger Bechirian remix]
This is a record that completely rocked my world at the time of its release and betcha-by-golly-wow, it hasn’t ebbed yet in my unmeasurable esteem! I was aware of Lene Lovich from seeing her then ubiquitous music videos for “Lucky Number” and “Say When” on early, primordial music video programs pre-MTV. So I was primed, but in late 1979, this single was the harbinger of her second album, “Flex,” and it was even dramatically stranger than the earlier singles that had caught my ear.
The A-side opens with an unresolved drone that’s pierced by Ms. Lovich’s otherworldly trilling that was like nothing else I’d ever heard in my sixteen years on planet earth. Lene swoops and glides down several octaves in a hot second as if she does this sort of thing all of the time. The rhythm section then picks up at a bouncy, near ska pace, that seems at odds with the dread the song carries throughout its length.
The result is one of the most deliciously unbalanced breakup songs ever as Ms. Lovich careens out of control as the result of her paramour’s abandonment. Les Chappel’s multitracked bass vocals added to the sense of vertigo as the organ solo adds shades of frenzy during the middle eight. During the intense coda, sustained tritone organ chords swirl into the mix alongside synthesizer warbles as well as Lene’s piercing wails.
It was many years later when I finally heard Yma Sumac and discovered where Lene lifted her astonishing vocal technique from. It made probably more sense in a New Wave context than it had thirty years earlier like some otherworldly bolt from the blue. Of course, not everyone can sing with that range and I in no way mean to diminish Lene’s impressive achievements.
The first B-side is the US remixed version of “Too Tender To Touch” from her first album, “Stateless.” Having only heard US editions of this album on LP and CD from 1980-1990, I eventually discovered that “Stateless” was completely remixed by Roger Bechirian for the US market. I have “Stateless” on a Conoisseur Collection disc [The Stiff Years vol. 1] that reveals nothing about which version was used to master the disc, but a few years back, I finally came across the original UK “Stateless” LP and one day I need to spin it to determine which version I have on CD. I suspect that all CD versions are from the Bechirian remix. Lene and Les must have liked the remix because he produced the “Flex” album and “Bird Song!”
The non-LP B-side, “Trixi” is also the B-side to the 7″ of this single, which also nestles in my Record Cell. It’s a winsome instrumental that helps to relieve the [delicious] anxiety that the A-side generates. So high was my esteem for this release that I bought any formats that crossed my path over the years.
The sting of regret compels me to reveal that I missed the one chance I ever had to see Lene Lovich in concert. the year was 1992 and I had just taken a road trip [8+ hours] to Atlanta with my friend Charles to see Pete Burns in concert, rightly suspecting that it would be memorable. Then Charles found out that the very next week, Lene was in concert. At the time I thought that driving to Atlanta from Central Florida two weeks in a row was decadent, so I stupidly passed up my only chance. I had the presence of mind to give Charles my “Bird Song” 7″ sleeve for an autograph though, so I do have the reminder to wear around my neck! Of course a year later, driving to Atlanta for kicks was like breathing; sometimes twice a a week for the right concerts! Arrrgh.
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