Tag Archives: Suzzy Roche

The Roches

14 Jun


From 1979 on the Warner Brothers label comes the debut album of the three Roche sisters from New York produced, inconguously, by Robert Fripp of King Crimson! I first heard this in Birmingham in 1980/81 via a friend, John Littlefair, (if you’re out there, get in touch!), who was also responsible for introducing me to Bonnie Raitt!

I’ll let The Roches introduce themselves, from the opening track, ‘We’:

We are Maggie and Terre and Suzzy

Maggie and Terre and Suzzy Roche

We don’t give out our ages

And we don’t give out our phone numbers (give out our phone numbers)

Sometimes our voices give out

But not our ages and our phone numbers

We come from deepest New Jersey

But now we live in New York City

We better get outa there before the shit hits the fan (shit hits the fan)

You might say where have they played?

All over the country and in England.

One hearing and I was a fan! Great, beautiful harmonies, stripped-down instrumentation and  wonderfully eccentric lyrics (the way they sing the lines “I hope they have health food in Dublin, and strawberry apricot pie/If they don’t have those things in Dublin/We’ll probably die” from ‘The Troubles’ makes me smile every time I hear it.

There are just ten tracks on this outing, the majority by Maggie, either alone or co-written with the other two sisters, and it remains my favourite Roches album. (They made one, maybe two more albums for Warner Bros. after which they moved onto smaller labels which enjoyed only erratic distribution in the UK – so my collection is a bit patchy). I’ve never seen them live – but this is a wonderful debut. Do check them out!



4 May

Image of Lucy (2010)

The reason I didn’t get around to posting anything a couple of days ago is that I was watching the eponymous Lucy Wainwright Roche perform at The Stables theatre, Milton Keynes, as opening act for her  father, Loudon Wainwright III. And very fine they both were too – engaging, witty performers (Lucy threw in Springsteen’s Hungry Heart as an audience singalong!).  At the gig I bought her not-yet-formally-released follow-up album (and another made with her mum, Suzzy Roche (of The Roches) but haven’t really had time to listen to them yet, so I’ll feature Lucy first. Along with Blair Dunlop’s Blight and Blosson (featured last month), this was, absolutely one of my two favourite albums of 2012.

Lucy W-R has a beguiling, clear, warm voice and persona and, for this collection, wrote a bunch of direct,  songs of love and loss and travel.  The instrumentation is understated and sympathetic, featuring various family members.  The ten-self-penned numbers are supplemented by a cover of Paul Simon’s’ America’ and one by Elliott Smith (‘Say Yes’) sung as a duet with Ira Glass but it’s her own songs that are the standouts. Wonderfully, two of my three favourites* were part of her set a couple of nights ago:  ‘Open Season‘ a wistful love song evoking the redevelopment of  the run-down seaside resort of Coney Island in her native Brooklyn and The Worst Part – one of the most touching break-up songs I’ve heard. These extracts don’t do it justice:

“no one likes to find the one who
they thought was lovely was a flash in the pan
survey the scene well the break was clean
hell that may be true and yet the losses were grand

“you seem to have found a way to bring me down
to make me see just how the problem is mine
if you would like to be a person making me
feel worse well you can get behind me in line”

“and the worst part is oh the worst part is
oh the very worst part is i will always love you anyway”.

I’ll write about the new album (‘There’s A Last Time For Everything’) shortly. I’ll also get round to covering her two early EPs too because  I think more people ought to get acquainted with Lucy Wainwright Roche’s music.  Find out more at:  http://lucywainwrightroche.com/

*btw, the favourite she didn’t include live was the magnificent A&E – about the British NHS no less.