Bill Schnee’s production on Kiki Dee’s final album for Rocket records is the problem with Stay with Me. None of the passion that Clive Franks and Elton John poured over Loving & Free can be found here, nor the directness and authority Pip Williams gave to 1981’s Perfect Timing disc on RCA. Kiki Dee is in good voice, but her originals, like “Don’t Stop Loving Me” and “Dark Side of Your Soul,” don’t go any further than being nice album tracks. It was insightful of this huge crew to take on the Ten Wheel Drive classic, Jerry Ragovoy’s “Stay with Me,” let alone title the album after that chestnut a year before it would get further recognition. Bette Midler would bring the song to a huge worldwide audience as it became the pivotal moment in The Rose, Janis Joplin/Doors producer Paul Rothchild polishing the pearl, a song of ultimate desperation. There is nothing desperate on this album of glossy adult contemporary music which switches hats too many times. The wild abandon Ten Wheel Drive put behind Genya Ravan’s soulful version on their Brief Replies album is absent here. “One Jump Ahead of the Storm” sounds like a watered-down “I’ve Got the Music in Me,” while Tom Snow and Hank Ballard’s “One Step” is light ’70s dance pop. Cynthia Weil and Franne Golde’s “You’re Holding Me Too Tight” is out and out disco and is indicative of the project: top-shelf names going through the motions. Kiki Dee’s catalog is more important than she’s ever been given credit for, from Great Expectations on Motown to the Gus Dudgeon-produced I’ve Got the Music in Me album. Stay with Me is a perfect example of how the wrong pairing of artist and producer can have drastic results. Davey Johnstone and her longtime keyboard player Bias Boshell’s “Love Is a Crazy Feeling” is one of the albums highlights. It and the final track, “Safe Harbor,” is worthwhile, but the staggering array of name people, arrangers Marty Paich, Jim Horn, Sonny Burke, Gene Page, keyboard players galore — from Tom Snow to James Newton Howard — drummers like Jim Keltner and Jeff Porcaro, the presence of Steve Porcaro, Steve Lukather, even the thanks to Jackie DeShannon and Randy Edelman for “stepping in,” all go to waste, and an album at an important time in her career, two years after her number one hit with Elton John, misses the mark by a mile. It does feature the best packaging of her music, beautiful photos and jacket design, but none of the momentum of albums that came before and after.
Stay with Me” (often credited as “Stay with Me Baby”) is a soul song co-written by Jerry Ragovoy and George David Weiss. It was first recorded in 1966 by Lorraine Ellison, and produced by Ragovoy.
Ellison recorded “Stay With Me” at a last-minute booking, following a studio cancellation by Frank Sinatra.With a 46-piece orchestra already hired, Warner Bros. Records asked Ragovoy, with two days’ notice, to take over the session at no cost. Ragovoy and arranger Garry Sherman worked up an orchestral arrangement of the song, and called Ellison into the studio to record it live with the orchestra. The recording was engineered by Phil Ramone.
“Stay With Me” was issued as a single on the Warner record label. It entered the US Billboard R&B chart on October 15, 1966, and reached No. 11; and peaked at No. 64 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Her follow-up single was “Heart Be Still”, a minor hit in 1967.
The track has appeared on numerous compilation albums over the years, but 2006’s Sister Love: The Warner Bros. Recordings contains all Ellison’s songs.
Stay With Me” has been covered by numerous musicians, including Bette Midler in the film The Rose. Other versions include those by The Walker Brothers, David Essex, Ruby Turner, Rebecca Wheatley, Bobby Hatfield, Genya Ravan, Terry Reid, Steve Marriott, Long John Baldry, Sharon Tandy, Les Fleur de Lys, Natalie Cole, Jimmy Witherspoon, Dan McCafferty, Kiki Dee, Shirley Brown, Samantha Rose, Sam Brown, Trine Rein, Whitesnake, Ronnie Montrose, and Duffy. The first four artists’ versions all reached the UK Singles Chart.
Duffy’s version was the only newly recorded song on the soundtrack of the 2009 UK comedy film The Boat That Rocked. Although it was the original version that appeared in the film, Duffy’s version did feature in the closing credits.
It was also performed by Karise Eden on June 17, 2012, for her finale performance on The Voice Australia, reaching No. 1 on the ARIA Singles Chart.
1 One Step (Glen Ballard, Tom Snow) 3:31
2 Talk to Me (David Lasley, Kiki Dee, Zane Buzby) 3:25
3 Don’t Stop Loving Me (David Lasley, Kiki Dee, Zane Buzby) 4:16
4 Dark Side of Your Soul (David Lasley, Kiki Dee, Zane Buzby) 4:04
5 Stay With Me (George Weiss, Jerry Ragavoy) 3:59
6 One Jump Ahead of the Storm (Joe New, Troy Seals) 3:23
7 You’re Holding Me Too Tight (Cyntha Weil, Frannie Golde) 4:00
8 Love Is a Crazy Feeling (Bias Boshell, Davey Johnstone) 4:21
9 Safe Harbor (David Lasley, Lana Marrano) 4:18
|Acoustic Guitar||Davey Johnstone|
|Background Vocals||David Lasley|
|Background Vocals||Arnold McCuller|
|Background Vocals||Brenda Russell|
|Background Vocals||Donny Garrard|
|Background Vocals||Susan Collins|
|Background Vocals||Carmen Twillie|
|Background Vocals||Sharon Robinson|
|Background Vocals||Netty Gloud|
|Background Vocals||Davey Johnstone|
Producer – Bill Schnee (Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Arranged By (Strings), Conductor (Strings) – Sonny Burke (Track 3)
Arranged By (Strings), Conductor (Strings) – Marty Paich (Tracks 5, 9)
Arranged By (Strings), Conductor (Strings) – Gene Page (Track 7)
Engineer – Bill Schnee
Arranged By (Horns) – Jim Horn
Mastered By – Doug Sax, Mike Reese
Photography By – David Alexander
Design, Art Direction – John Kosh
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Spellbound Recordings
Licensed To – EMI Records Ltd.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – EMI Records Ltd.
Copyright (c) – EMI Records Ltd.
Distributed By – EMI
Marketed By – EMI