Annie Haslam


Band members                             Related acts

- Annie Haslam -- vocals  

 

  supporting musicians:

Jon Camp -- bass, guitar backing vocals

- Louis Clark -- drums, percussion

- Dick Donovan -- keyboards

- Roy Wood -- everything

 

 

- Nevada (Annie Haslam)  

- Renaissance (Annie Haslam)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Annie In Wonderland

Company: Sire

Catalog: SR 6046

Year: 1977

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; promo sticker on cover; little bit of wear on edge seam

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5271

Price: $20.00

 

In the United States Annie Haslam remains a largely unknown quantity.  If Americans recognize her name at all it’s probably a result of her association with the band Renaissance, as an artist, or through her relationship with the ever-eccentric Roy Wood (they’re married).

 

Recorded during a hiatus from Renaissance, for all intents and purposes 1977’s “Annie In Wonderland” served as collaboration with then-fiancée Wood (she’d previously appeared on a couple of Wood’s solo albums).  Not only did Wood produce the set, he was the prime member of the backing band, wrote about half of the material, design the cover art, and took most the pictures that grace the inner sleeves. As a member of Renaissance Haslam’s performances were often quite good, though the band’s mixture of progressive and classical motifs was frequently over-the-top pretentious.  That meant her crystal clear, multi-octave voice was frequently wasted. To his credit Wood largely abandoned the pretentious elements in favor of a far more conventional and commercial collection.  Okay, the pseudo-classical scat-propelled ‘Rockalise’ could have been a Renaissance effort.  Exemplified by tracks like ‘I Never Believed In Love’ and ‘If I Were Made of Music’ (the latter written by Renaissance bassist Jon Camp who also played on the album), Haslam sounded quite comfortable working in a more commercial genre and several of these tracks would have sounded right at home on top-40 radio.  Elsewhere Wood’s weird side was represented in the strange hybrid of English folk and African chanting (‘Hunico’) and the decision to cover Eden Ahbez’s ‘Nature Boy’. The only real missteps were a couple of eclectic covers that apparently represented Haslam personal favorites – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘If I Loved You’ (I think it came from the musical ‘Carousel’) and a needless adaptation of Dvorjak’s ‘Going Home.'.  While I’ll readily admit to not having heard Haslam’s complete solo catalog, of the four or five LPs I have heard, this remains my favorite.

 

For anyone interested, here’s a link to Haslam’s entertaining website: www.anniehaslam.com

   

"Annie In Wonderland" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Introlise (instrumental) – 0:30   rating: *** stars

'Introlise' was a beautiful, almost Gregorian monk sounding snippet featuring multitracked Haslam scatting.  Wish it had been longer.

2.) If I Were Made of Music   (Roy Wood) – 4:29   rating: **** stars

As displayed on 'If I Were Made of Music' Haslam's voice is unique.  High and somewhat quivery, it's an instrument that won't appeal to everyone, but I love her voice.  For whatever reason,  in my mind she will always be associated with medieval English folk music.  And that's one of the things that makes this tune so interesting.  Producer Wood took those English folk roots and attached it to one of his catchiest melodies (echoes of earlier Electric Light Orchestra).  Awesome Jon Camp bass line.  Shame the song wasn't longer.

3.) I Never Believed In Love   (Roy Wood) – 3:38    rating: **** stars

Sharing lead vocals with Roy Wood, 'I Never Believed In Love' was a full out pop song.  Strange experience to hear Haslam singing a top-40 styled ballad.  Not bad, but definitely strange. Always liked the George Harrison-styled slide guitar colorings.  Credited as a Haslam and Roy Wood collaboration, the track was released as a promo single in the States and as an English single:

 

 

 

- 1977's  'I Never Believed In Love' b/w 'I Never Believed In Love' (Sire catalog number SRE 1016)

- 1977's 'I Never Believed In Love' b/w 'Inside My LIfe' (Warner Brothers catalog number K 17028)

 

 

 

 

 

4.) If I Loved You   (Richard Rodgers – Oscar Hammerstein) – 4:38   rating: *** stars

A Rodgers-Hammerstein cover seemed like an odd choice, but I read somewhere this was a tune that her father loved and had sung to her as a child.  Lovely performance.

5.) Hunico (instrumental)  (Roy Wood) – 7:32   rating: **** stars

Trotting out Wood's eccentric side, complete with African chanting and rhythms, the ballad 'Hunrico' has always reminded me of something off a Disney soundtrack.  Haslam is all but overwhelmed by the chanting over the second half of the song.  Wonder if Paul Simon ever heard this one?  Extra star for being so weird.

 

 

(side 2)
1.) Rockalise (instrumental)   (Roy Wood) – 6:08 
   rating: *** stars

A heavily orchestrated instrumental, the track's worldless vocals displayed Haslam's higher range, operatic edge.  Imagine ELO fronting Enya ...

2.) Nature Boy   (Eden Ahbez) – 4:53    rating: *** stars

'Nature Boy' was another track Haslam learned from her father.  Ironically there was something fitting seeing the eclectic Haslam and Wood cover '50s eccentric 'Eden Ahbez.'   Haslam's breezy adaptation complete with scat ending was quite nice.

3.) Inside My Life   (Jon Camp) – 4:50    rating: **** stars

As the album's most commercial performance and Haslam's best vocal, the breezy ballad 'Inside My Life' didn't even belong to Roy Wood, rather to Renaissance bass player Jon Camp.  Love the song's unexpected jazzy ending.

4.) Going Home   (Dvorjak – W.A. Fisher) – 5:06    rating: **** stars

The album's most Renaissance-like performance, her adaptation of Dvojak's 'Going Home' was beautiful.  I was listening to a couple of YouTube clips of the song and was stunned to see this is a favorite funeral performance.   Interesting, if very off choice for Warner Brothers to have tapped as an English single.

 

 

 

 

- 1978's 'Going Home' b/w 'Inside My Life' *Warner Brothers catalog number K-17563)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Album inner sleeve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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