Up From the Skies: The Polydor Years

( 3 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Lindsay Planer
With her bluesy intonation and trademark gusty delivery, it is a wonder that singer/songwriter Ellen McIlwaine guitar/piano/vocals wasn't more commercially successful. This single-disc anthology encompasses her first two solo platters Honky Tonk Angel 1972 and We the People 1973, with a sole unissued reading of the soul classic "It's Growing." After spending a majority of her youth in Japan with her missionary parents, McIlwaine and family settled in Atlanta, Georgia in the early 1960s. Her first love was the Creole-based sound of artists such as Professor Longhair and Fats Domino, however, it was McIlwaine's admitted infatuation with the clean, stinging licks of ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Lindsay Planer
With her bluesy intonation and trademark gusty delivery, it is a wonder that singer/songwriter Ellen McIlwaine guitar/piano/vocals wasn't more commercially successful. This single-disc anthology encompasses her first two solo platters Honky Tonk Angel 1972 and We the People 1973, with a sole unissued reading of the soul classic "It's Growing." After spending a majority of her youth in Japan with her missionary parents, McIlwaine and family settled in Atlanta, Georgia in the early 1960s. Her first love was the Creole-based sound of artists such as Professor Longhair and Fats Domino, however, it was McIlwaine's admitted infatuation with the clean, stinging licks of bluesman B.B. King that would yield the more obvious inspiration. After moving to New York City in the mid-'60s, she was quickly ingratiated into the fertile electric folk scene, where she sat in with or opened up for the likes of Muddy Waters, Elvin Bishop and even befriended another newcomer named Jimi Hendrix -- prior to his U.K. defection in 1966. After forming the edgy and rowdy combo Fear Itself and releasing one all-but-dismissed long-player, McIlwaine decided to go it alone. After signing with Polydor, she commenced work on Honky Tonk Angel, which was documented both on-stage at the venerable Bitter End in New York City, as well as in the studio at the equally luminous Record Plant. Her aggressive and diverse cover versions were taken from a wide array of styles, such as Johnnie Taylor's Memphis soul on "Toe Hold" to the Kitty Wells country classic "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." Perhaps most interesting is the thoroughly inventive reading of Guy Warren's African jazz on "Pinebo My Story." McIlwaine provided some a few stunning originals, including the woozy slide guitar blues rave-up "Losing You" as well as the upbeat and funky "Wings of a Horse." These strong compositions became a precursor to her follow-up We the People, as it drew more heavily upon her own material. Among the highlights are McIlwaine's profound fretwork on "Ain't No Two Ways to It It's Love," the languid and dreamy "Underground River" and the palpitation-inducing acoustic-raga, "We the People." The selection is not only the title track, but the album's sole live cut, recorded at Carnegie Hall during her support slot for the progressive Latin-fused funk of Mandrill. Talk about your eclectic double-bill!
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/7/1998
  • Label: Polydor / Umgd
  • UPC: 731455757620
  • Catalog Number: 557576

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Ellen McIlwaine Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Guitar, Vocals
Bill Keith Pedal Steel Guitar
Candido Conga
Bill Curtis Conga
James Madison Drums
Gerry Mercer Drums
Don Payne Bass
Don Moore Bass
Thad Holiday Bass, Background Vocals
Don Kaplan Piano
Colin Tilton Saxophone
Technical Credits
Ellen McIlwaine Composer
Jack Bruce Composer
Pete Brown Composer
Roy Cicala Producer, Engineer
Tom Flye Producer, Engineer
Bill Levenson Executive Producer
Jerry Schoenbaum Producer, Engineer
Peter K. Siegel Producer
Dan Turbeville Producer, Engineer
Shelly Yakus Engineer
Shelly Snow Producer, Engineer
Catherine Ladis Contributor
Tom Terrell Liner Notes
Jerry Rappaport Producer
Steve Fallone Mastering
Public Domain Composer
Warren Moore Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A True Original!

    The music of Ellen McIlwaine defies easy pigeon-holing. She can handle searing rock, tender ballads, and jazzy scat singing all with the same ease and effectiveness. Her singing is full of soul and nuances, wringing every drop of possibility from each melody. And then there's her guitar - incendiary, gentle, rhythmic, melodic, and played with a touch of genius - NOBODY else sounds like Ellen! The fact that she isn't better known is astonishing. And these early tracks include wonderful examples of her style - or styles. "We The People" is incandescent, "Losing You" is a brief burst of driving delight, "Underground River" is as moody and mysterious as its title, and so on. Your collection needs this music before it can be called worthwhile!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Rediscovered gold

    I listened to these songs back in my college days on a friend's turntable, and searched this out when the song "Toehold" haunted my memory. Classifying this music in the folk genre is misleading: for those that are unfamiliar, think Bonnie Raitt meets Joni Mitchell, and you might get a clue. What a voice!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Ellen - any more soul and my computer would explode

    This seems to be a rather eclectic mix of tracks in the sense that her different styles are all conveyed effectively. Of course, there is such little Ellen out there, so every bit counts - and she definitely makes it so.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews