Three on a Match
* Special limited edition retro film canister packaging includes 28-page booklet, imagined movie stills by John Soares, matchbox**, etc. Bette Davis is a legend of the cinema; the ultimate classic Hollywood star. Her style and attitude have had a cultural impact that goes far beyond the screen. And now, finally, her impact on musical inspiration will go far beyond "Bette Davis Eyes." THREE ON A MATCH is a new songwriting project from songwriters Neil Carlill (Lodger, Delicatessen), Jeff Mellin (The Eddies, Miss Mary) & King Toad (Furious Skinny, The Michael Tabors). Inspired by the films of the great Bette Davis, their songs draw on plot elements, characters, actors, biographic details, or, in some cases, the film titles alone. Carlill (fresh from his collaboration with Duran Duran's Warren Cuccurullo) and Mellin (fresh from his own recordings with the Velvet Underground's Doug Yule) had been looking to collaborate for years. They decided the best place to start would be their shared love of old movies. And of course, the films of Ms. Davis were at the top of their list. "Each Bette Davis film resonates with me in it's own way," says Carlill. At times he finds inspiration in of the back story, rumor mill and pop-culture trivia because "the surrounding mythology yields too much comedy, irony and tragedy to go un-eulogized." He conceived abstract character sketches and highlighted iconic lines to evoke the films' atmosphere and to produce a musical structure "that sets the listener quite literally off-balance." Mellin says that Bette Davis movies are "perfect seeds for songs." His approach was to focus on the titles alone: "I wanted to let the raw sound and rhythm of the words shape the songs' creation, knowing there'd be no escaping the inherent aesthetics and my own subconscious associations." He says the titles' infuse the songs with a "vintage mystique" and "cinematic narrative" that results in the "sort of memory dream you might' have falling asleep to Turner Classic Movies." To fill out the trio, Carlill brought in King Toad, who found inspiration characters, dialog and even historical context. "My approach was different for each track," says Toad. He comes at the material from perspectives inside an out of the film, and deals with plot elements, controversies surrounding the films, the overall sense and feel of the films, as well as their unifying roots. "Both "Of Human Bondage" & "The Letter" are based on the works of W. Somerset Maugham," he notes. "I was happy to be able to write songs for the pair." These three varied approaches yield an album that is complex, witty, dark and even romantic -- not unlike Ms. Davis herself. Sticking to minimal, mostly acoustic arrangements, the three artists create a mood that evokes the playfulness of a Saturday matinee, the nostalgia of an old movie house and the solitude of private screening.The thirteen songs span Davis' entire career, from early pre-code romps like "Cabin In The Cotton" and "Parachute Jumper" through her artistic heights of "Dark Victory" and "All About Eve" and and up to the high camp of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" and "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte." To celebrate Davis' 103rd birthday, the album was pre-released as a name-your-own-price download on April 5. On May 26, Stereorrific will officially release the album on matchbooks (yes, real matchboxes) with high-quality downloads, as well as a limited edition CD package, complete with film canister, 28-page book, Cindy-Sherman-esque imagined movie stills, and other surprises. About the three: NEIL CARLILL was a founding member of DELICATESSEN (Rough Trade/Big Life) who recorded 3 albums on the 90s alternative/experimental scene. He later was part of Lodger (Island Records), who landed the track 'I'm Leaving' in the UK Top 40. Neil is also currently one half of CHICANERY w/Duran Duran's Warren Cuccurullo. Neil has also worked on other projects including ME ME THE MOTH w/ Marcelo Radulovich, VEDETTE w/ Manuel Stagars & Jayrope, 5 LITTLE ELEPHANTS w/Charles-Eric Charrier & SHOOSH w/Craig Murphy & Ed Drury. "Each Bette Davis film resonates with me in it's own way, and for this project my approach to the songwriting differed slightly according to the film whose title I was borrowing. In writing 'All About Eve', for instance I aggregated elements of the back story, rumor mill and pop-culture trivia encompassing the film, it's stars and it's production. As wonderful as the film itself is, it's surrounding mythology yields too much comedy, irony and tragedy to go un-eulogized. For 'Mr Skeffington' I conceived the lyrics as an abstract sketch of BD's character, Fanny Skeffington, with a sympathetic angle on her emotional inner-life through the trials she endures - especially where the aging process is concerned. 'Cabin in The Cotton' inspired an even more abstract take, in which I tried to evoke the film's atmosphere as a whole, and highlighted lines of dialogue that have, to my mind at least, become iconic. 'Now Voyager,' being a film that forthrightly addresses psychological despair, led me to try and produce a musical structure that sets the listener quite literally off-balance, combined with a lyric that empathizes with Charlotte's dissolution, and celebrates the development of her character." JEFF MELLIN is a multi-disciplinary artist & musician whose jangling melodies and crafted lyrics blend Americana w/ Mersey Beat & sun-shower pop. The former frontman for the 90s Boston-based twangle-pop group THE EDDIES has released a series of classic pop and melancholic swamp-folk recordings including Jeff Mellin Saves The World (Stereorrific) & Good For A Gander (Stereorrific). His most recent, Love Is Made Of Sky (Stereorrific/dPulse) features the Velvet Underground's Doug Yule, members of SHRAG and "Orange" Nichole Ferree. His lyrics have been anthologized in "Skin & Bones" (Kolourmeim Press) and his songs covered by artists incl. Miss Mary, Death by Chocolate, Superdrive and Slide. "I've gradually come to the conclusion that the best way to get 'at' a song is to get out of it's way. Which is to say, stop worrying about what the song might be 'about' and let the song find itself. A good way to do this is to start with parameters. Linguistic game rules, or themes unrelated to anything I might be inclined to be writing songs about. I'll then nurture the song as it grows and evolves within that environment, and trust that the "about" and "meaning" will come on it's own. Bette Davis movies are, in this way, perfect seeds for songs. But to avoid distractions of journalism or the trappings of tribute, I chose to 'liberate' the movie titles from the original content and context. I wanted to let my imagination and the raw sound and rhythm of the words shape the songs' creation, knowing there'd be no escaping the inherent aesthetics and my own subconscious associations. So while 'All this And Heaven Too,' 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?,' 'The Man Who Came to Dinner' have nothing to do with the films, per se, the titles' peculiar mid-century cadences retain the DNA of vintage mystique and cinematic narrative. A title like 'Jezebel' came to the original film with mythic connotations infused into it's phonetic ring-around-the-rosiness. Only one song, 'Dark Victory,' (the first I'd written for the project) flirts with film particulars. But it's born from free-associative rhyme (dark victory spark electricity Clark Gable Clark Kent stabilize patient...) where those particulars slip into the sort of memory dream you might' have falling asleep to Turner Classic Movies, Robert Osborne gently whispering in your ear." KING TOAD (Jamal River) was born and raised in Iowa City, IA. He's been self-releasing music for the past 15 years, first on the independent Iowa City label Bla/NK, later on his own. He has released seven official albums under the name King Toad, most recently Why Am I So Romantic? His music explores various styles and instrumentation, but generally leans toward keeping things fast, catchy & short. Lyrically the tone is often darker, frequently touching on themes of death, depression and mental illness. He was a songwriter & multi-instrumentalist for THE MICHAEL TABORS in '04 and '05, and has produced one album and several live recordings for monster-rock group FURIOUS SKINNY. "My approach to writing the Bette Davis songs was different for each track. 'Of Human Bondage' came first; told from the perspective of the film's protagonist, some of the lyrics came directly from movie dialog while others were simply inspired by the overall sense of hopelessness and despair the film manages to conjure. For 'The Letter' I wanted to talk about the controversies surrounding the film as much as the film itself. Specifically the fact that the Production Code Administration wouldn't allow the 1940 version of 'The Letter' to be completed until the script was altered so that Davis' murderous, adulterous character dies at the end, thereby satisfying The Administration's call for Old Testament justice in the film & entertainment industry. Both 'Of Human Bondage' and 'The Letter' are based on the works of W. Somerset Maugham, & I was happy to be able to write songs for the pair. 'Parachute Jumper' (one of Davis' least favorites of her films) is here translated into a fairly straight forward, pop-song synopsis of the movie's narrative. 'Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte' was the last song I wrote for the project and is told from the perspective of a non-specified observer, trying to give comfort and support to poor Charlotte in her time of distress." ** Due to postal regulations, this 'Strike Anywhere' edition does NOT contain matches.