Here’s an album I’ve been curious about for some time. Ann Odell was a pianist in Blue Mink and a very talented musician, with credits including string arrangements for Brian Ferry and INXS. Only a matter of weeks ago, in a conversation I had with singer/songwriter Rupert Holmes, the subject of artists who do their own arrangements arose. Many singer/songwriters and pop acts have sometimes bagged an ‘arranger’ credit by doing little more than saying, ‘strings in this bit, please’, while a genuine professional does the actual work, possibly without credit. In the exclusive club of singer/songwriters who genuinely arrange, filling rows and rows of blank staves with ink, would be Rupert, Janis Ian, Randy Edelman, Carole King, Randy Newman and…Ann Odell. Ann’s sole album, A Little Taste, came out in 1973 on DJM/Pye and to my knowledge has had just one CD reissue, on the Korean Beatball label (like Big Pink, Beatball is a Korean label that really digs deep and finds fascinating niche albums to reissue), around 2005. I’ve finally got my hands on a copy. And it’s good. More than good – excellent.
Ann’s singing voice reminds me of Meg Christian and her songs have a pop/soul/rock sound that’s typical of the era. Singing with Ann on the album are legends Madeline Bell, Doris Troy and Liza Strike. This is a keeper – catchy and thoroughly charming. If I were to weigh it up against the British singer/songwriter albums coming out around the same time frame, I’d say it’s more eccentric and grownup than Lynsey de Paul, perhaps to be filed alongside Lesley Duncan and Catherine Howe.