Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday Night Vinyl - Portrait of Leda

Leda sings blood music. D.H. Lawrence would have understood her. 

Columbia - WL 114, 1958
Well, if D.H. Lawrence would have understood Leda Annest, then he must have been some amazing kind of cat! This 1958 record Portrait of Leda by Leda Annest and Phil Moore is one of the more unusual albums I've found and taken home. I'd never heard of Leda Annest before picking this one up out of a box labelled "unclassifiable" at an old favorite record store I like to visit. I'd say it's somewhere between exotica and orchestra. The long liner notes on the back of the cover describe it best, "To listen to Leda is to hear the secret voices of the wellsprings of life come to the ear one after the other...I have seen a group of businessmen who listened to Leda together fall into consternation and embarrassment."

This must have been quite a platter to drop on that unsuspecting kitten invited up to a bachelor's apartment for a nightcap. It's got one objective in mind: Sex! Deep, dark, sloppy, wild sex! Leda's voice runs from the guttural to tortured to angelic, all in the space of three long tracks on this record. I'm betting, though, that when played for that neat little chick in 1958, there was too much going on in the dark for anyone to get up and flip the record over. The liner notes in back warn the listener that it's a record best played alone. To let Leda "find you, touch you, know'll be richer for it."

Some years later, a certain phony artist who married a well known Beatle tried recording songs with a similar method. She ended up making cats in heat fighting with screeching babies sound better. Unfortunately, she's the punchline for singing in the style Leda Annest does here. And it's a safe bet that more people know this certain Beatle widow than anyone remembering Leda Annest. That's a shame, because Leda is definitely the real deal when it comes to belting out savage, seductive siren wail of the "soul-psyche-soma."

Find Portrait of Leda, and play it at your own risk. Don't say you weren't warned.

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