Lovage’s “Music to Make Love to your Old Lady By” is a personal favorite album, something that I completely fell in love with when I first heard the song “Book of the Month” in late 2005; four years after the album was released.
Late though I was, I’m pretty far from being the only person in the world to not know of the greatness of this album; hence this review. Lovage is a supergroup headed up by Natianiel Merriweather (aka Dan the Automator of “Gorilliaz” fame) with vocals by Mike (Faith No More) Patton and Jennifer (Elysian Fields) Charles with mixing/scratching done by Kid Koala.
“Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By” is trip-hop meets performance art, having it’s two vocalists telling a story together sometimes together and sometimes separately in each song. Stylishly horny and tongue-in-cheek the songs are playfully precise in both vocal deliveries as well as the timing of beats/scratches. Musical tracks include random soundbytes with instrumentals by Kid Koala and Merriweather. One of the more oddball tracks contains hygiene tips from Afrika Bambaataa. Listening to the album is like falling asleep while watching Turner Classic Movies and having the most romantic, yet bittersweet, fever-cum-wet dream ever.
I’m going to talk a bit in depth about my favorite tracks on the album. If you have never heard any of these songs before, I hope that by reading this review you will be compelled to give them a serious listen. My words simply can not do them justice.
“Pit Stop (Take Me Home)” features both Charles and Patton telling a story about a stranded motorist (Charles) falling for a truck driver (Patton), both taking turns after their verses singing the refrain “Now ask me why do I feel my hearts on fire? Ask me, why do I feel this strange desire? Ask me, why do I feel like I’m falling? I’m falling…”. As with all tracks, it’s sublime in it’s execution and melody and is the perfect introduction to the style of the album and it’s quirky humor, such as when Patton says picking up Charles is his “big 10-4”.
“Anger Management” has Patton going solo and showing off his vocal range, telling the lamentful story of a romance gone sour, often asking “Why must God punish me this way?”, and comparing his beloved to rival the beauty of Helen of Troy, “In all my dreams I never thought I’d see a face that could launch a thousand ships”. This song also contains some of the more beautifully haunting lyrics “And the music was like wind in your hair….then the light caressed your silhouette…”. One of the more serious songs on the album, though not heavy, even when Patton wails “And can’t you see we could have had it all?”
Next up, “Everyone Has a Summer they Want to Remember” is made up of scratches and beats by Kid Koala containing quite a few clips from classic films and classic film trailers. “When a man needs a woman’s love so much…it’s a beautiful love story, but not all love is beautiful”, “No wonder you’re so upset….she’s lovely!” Koala wields the beats and bytes cutting them with ninja-like accuracy, putting all together so brilliantly that it makes you wonder why other DJ’s even try. “Passion filled rendezvous! Heart heart heart-wrenching goodbyes….the memory of love….”
Jennifer Charles gets her first solo track and it’s the first on the album (and not the last) to take it’s title from a classic Hitchcock film: “To Catch a Thief”. In it, the minx uses her breathy, heavily sensual vocals, telling a story of a woman who contemplates a way to seduce a super-thief that has been victimizing her neighborhood. “I saw that you were wanted. But not like I wanted you!” Complimenting him on how well he looks all dressed in black and how she’d like to see on his back she plans their getaway and life together “we’ll be kinky, we’ll be strange….I’ll take a life of crime….all to make you mine”. It also contains one of the more catchy refrains “Your love is my relief / my love is your relief”.
“Book of the Month” was my first introduction to the album and I was hooked. Somewhat sinister, a bit corny, and probably the most purely carnal song on the album, it contains Charles and Patton sparring against one another, commenting on their relationship “You and me are a disease and the germs are spreading…” Mixing lame come-ons such as “I’ll turn you on like the electric company” and romantic speculations “We’ll laugh away our golden years…we’ll line the clouds with silver tears”, the song builds to an orgasmic conclusion as they basically end up trying to out moan one another. In lesser hands this track would be a hot mess, but the vocals and mixing make it a very potent aphrodisiac. The music video sucks, if you watch it please do so with your eyes closed but ears wide open.
Another Hitchcock titled track, “Lifeboat”, is a duet telling the bittersweet story of two shipwreck survivors who lose their significant others only to find themselves in love with each other. Trying to make sense out of the situation and live with what people will think of them, asking the question “Is it wrong that we could come together?” One of the best lyrically on the album with Charles singing “In the refuge of these foreign arms, I could find a holy land”.
“Strangers on a Train” has Charles going solo and seducing an unnamed person (presumably James Bond). Opening up the conversation Charles says “I overheard you say not stirred but shaken, and I could really throw one back..” and then seals the deal by informing him “the stiff one is my specialty”. They have their drink, with the toast “to strangers on a train”. As they enjoy each others company, Jennifer also enjoys the view of the countryside “just look at that scenery! It’s lovely!” and expressing her joy of the train ride, “I really like the way it feels / the motion of your wheels”.
The album closes on the song “Archie & Veronica”. Despite being named innocently enough after the famous comic couple, there is nothing wholesome or innocent here. It’s a duet again, this time telling the story of a man’s unrequited love for a recently deceased woman.
Mike: Flowers on your grave
Jennifer: I never loved you.
Mike: I paid my respects
Jennifer: Too little, too late…
Going so far as to suggest necrophilia as Mike sinisterly sings “sitting on a cold slab / feeling my warm stab”, it’s a more dour song to close the album out on considering the more fun songs that have come before. Despite the subject matter, it’s got a catchy beat and the music is to die for (pardon the pun), even as Jennifer’s character darkly taunts Mike’s by saying “Jealous of the flies and worms inside me”.
Sadly, this is the only album released by the group and I wish they would release more. They have toured together and sung a cleverly hilarious reworking of the Ja-Rule and J. Lo song “I’m Real” with the leads inverted: that is to say Jennifer as JaRule and Mike as J.Lo. I’d go so far as to say as it’s better than the original, especially since Patton easily outdiva’s J. Lo consistently throughout.