25 May 2006

Mari Wilson - Dance With A Stranger


Mari Wilson is best - perhaps solely - remembered for her beehive hairdo and matching 60s kitsch sound on her one proper hit Just What I Always Wanted.

She followed it up with a cover of Julie London's jazzy ballad Cry Me A River (limited edition had a free hanky!), setting the course for this subtle and affecting version of Peggy Lee's Dance With A Stranger as the title song for the movie.

If it doesn't look like how you remember Mari Wilson on the cover, that's because it isn't. It's the movie's lead actor Miranda Richardson.

I saw Richardson outside Russell & Bromley's in Southport around this time, pretty soon after seeing Mike Score out of A Flock Of Seagulls outside a shoeshop in Liverpool's Church Street. What was it with me and minor celebrities adjacent to Merseyside footwear retailers in the mid 80s? Who knows?

Anyway, Richardson's familiar for being Queen Elizabeth in Blackadder II. A more different role is hard to imagine.

The film tells the tempestuous story of Ruth Ellis, last woman to be judicially hanged in the UK, and the violent relationship that culminated in her killing her boyfriend. Scripted by Shelagh Delaney of A Taste Of Honey fame, it's got that same unglossy sense of real lives that made her name, and Richardson's performance opposite Rupert Everett is superb.

Rather like Blue Velvet, they've taken a sweet contemporaneous song and made it eerie by juxtaposing it with a dark and troubling film. Once you know that, the recontextualising leaves a twist on the song forever. The song is all about meeting a stanger, it is light and full of understated tingle at the potential in meeting someone who makes you go all fuzzy inside. Yet you approach the film knowing the ensuing affair is brutal and ends horrifically. This provides the key element in most great pop music; to address simulataneous conflicting emotions.

Faithful to the 1951 original, Wilson's version is remarkably warm; this was the 80s, a time of such shiny digital sterility, yet this sounds so authentic that you could readily believe it was recorded any time in the last 50 years. Dreamy, soft, playful, intimate, seductive, but with an uneasiness lent to it by the film, it's a lost gem.

[MP3 deleted to make room for new ones. Sorry! Post your email address in Comments if you'd like it emailed you]


Anonymous said...

Very nice song. To bad it is so hard to find her music. Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps is one I would like.

Anonymous said...

You can get it from www.myspace.com/mariwilson

Anonymous said...

When you say you can get it from my space, how do you save it?

Anonymous said...

I would also like "Just what i always wanted, which is on my space, can I get it onto my iPod?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps is also available to buy on iTunes for 79p

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with you. Thanks for posting the MP3. I've got the soundtrack album but my record player passed away a decade ago and I had been missing all the music in the film. I bought the DVD of "Dance with a Stranger" recently. Lucky to have it back here in Tokyo, Japan. Glad to know that Mari is still singing. Miss her hair-do. :-) sk

A Man and A Mouse said...

Thanks for sending on the MP3 (and the JPG of the record!). It's just what I've always wanted.


Anonymous said...

can you send me Perhaps perhaps perhaps of Mari Wilson? I like this song

merrick said...

Sorry anonyperson, this is the only Mari Wilson track I've got.

merrick said...


I only have this one Mari Wilson record. I'm not a big fan or anything, I just like this single.

however, if you're trying to find old vinyl, as well as Ebay there's two big sites that carry lists from loads of dealers, Netsounds and Gemm.



Ronald van Veen said...

Love this song and the movie!

Ronald van Veen said...

I thought you might be interested in the latest news from Mari Wilson.

Mari Wilson is well known for her hits "Just what I always wanted" and "Baby it's true" in the 80's.
Later on she played Dusty Springfield in "Dusty the Musical" and she released 3 more critically aclaimed albums in the 90's and 00's.
She also sang the theme song for the BBC-series "Coupling", a version of "Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps".
Now she regularly tours in the UK, as a solo artist but also with Barb Jungr and Gwyneth Herbert with their show "Girl Talk".

But what's that latest news???
Well, Mari Wilson is about to release a new album called "Covers".
But she does that in a rather unfamiliar way...
Mari Wilson has joined www.pledgemusic.com to release her next album!
This is what she said about on her own website:

"At last, we're ready to launch the campaign for my new upcoming album. This time, an album of covers and the whole approach is completely different from anything I've ever done before. This time it means you and I can be involved together in the whole process. You'll see that there are different things you can pledge for to help us get this album made and there is a widget for a free download of a Dusty Springfield song to give you an idea of what's to come. Also if you click on the Pledge Badge below, it will take you to the site where there is a video blog and all the information you need. I'll be updating constantly. Let me know what
you think. More soon. Thanks, Mari"

No go to http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/mariwilson for more info.

Also visit http://www.mariwilson.co.uk/ for more info about Mari Wilson herself!

Mind you, I live in the Netherlands and I am not a manager or promotor. I'm just a big fan of Mari Wilson and just like to spread the news for her. I also do so via my own website www.pmachinery.com and my personal
facebook page.

Best wishes,

Ronald van Veen
The Netherlands