There’s something unique about this woman. No, not Leeloo in the 5th Element film, I’m talking about Annette Peacock, the American composer and musician who released her debut album, I’m the One in 1972.
In the film, Leeloo is grown in a lab from an alien blueprint, and the scene of her awakening is dramatically disturbing. That’s also a perfectly good description of Annette Peacock’s vocals on the album. On the title track, for example, she utters a strangled message of devotion. “You don’t have to look any further”, she wails, “I’m the one … for you”. It’s flattering, of course, but the avant-garde jazz is discomforting and the attentions of this other-worldly creature are unwelcome.
Later, when you have rejected her advances, a solo piano accompanies her private reflections on the empty 7 days she has spent alone since you left. “Won’t you, please, come home?”, she pleads in her anguished alien tongue. Two tracks later, the pain is still there. Been and gone is another heartfelt piano-based lament, this time with electronic effects. Sad songs, it seems, transcend the languages of the universe.
But you are not the only love in the singer’s life. She adores her pony, too. And easy riding takes her on the road to a temporary respite. Her mount is docile and the journey ambles through a laid-back bluesy rock tune.
The contentment doesn’t last long, though. Back at home, incoherent words tell how blood was spilt on a honkytonk piano. The alien is still aching when the guitar, organ and horns of an art rock band suggest there is one way to cure those blues. Unfortunately, though, it needs you to return those unwanted affections. As you parry the thrusts of possessive persuasion once more, the creature fires the dart of Elvis Presley’s love me tender. Apart from for the impassioned voice of the visitor from another planet, the treatment is fairly conventional. The arrow does not pierce your shield. The situation remains unresolved.
The album ends with an ambiguous gesture without plot over the piano keyboard, followed by a filler track. It is a work that intrigues because it doesn’t follow the usual rules. By being different, it opens up new possibilities – possibilities that were explored by Alan Holdsworth, Brian Eno, Bill Bruford and Mick Ronson, among others.
Annette Peacock may not be from another world, but she certainly has a unique style. It’s a Marmite thing – you will either love it or hate it.