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Maui Music-Maker Recalls Working With Some of Pop World's Major Players

Written by Chief Editor.

Last year, the Huffington Post's Charles Donovan wrote about searching for a lost album. He was referring to the master tapes for Pamela Polland's Have You Heard The One About The Gas Station Attendant?
 
The early '70s project was recorded for Columbia Records and included contributions from Elton's bandmates and producer, as well as backing vocals from Joan Armatrading and an appearance by Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, just as the album was ready to be released, Clive Davis, who had championed Pamela at every turn, lost his job.
 
But after writing about the situation, Donovan received an email from Richard Bowe at Sony UK, which included his phone number. Richard was ''friendly and personable'' over the phone. He also surprised Charles, informing him that the master tapes were sitting on his desk as they spoke.
 
Pamela, who has performed and recorded with acts such as John Denver, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, and the Manhattan Transfer, recently shared her thoughts with this Web site about what it was like to team up with some of Elton's associates.
 
EJW: How do you feel about finding the master tapes? 

PP: We hope this will catch the eye of someone in the reissue biz. Itʻs not really a "reissue" or a "re-release" because it was never released in the first place!! It was canned, fully mastered, all art work ready, when Clive Davis was fired by the CBS corporate structure in 1973.  And because I was Cliveʻs "pet project", they dumped me as well. Quite a shock, and such a waste of a beautiful record.

EJW: Did Nigel Olsson, Dee Murray and Davey Johnstone participate?

PP: Davey played on several cuts, as did the percussionist Ray Cooper. . . . A  great, creative player who was featured quite prominently. On one track, The Clearing, Ray literally invented an instrument to give an "other worldly" quality to this recording - he called it 'The Water Gong,' and basically brought a large Asian temple gong into the studio along with a huge vat of water, and submerged the gong while hitting it with a mallet to get the supernatural effect you hear on this cut.

EJW: You wound up meeting Elton as well. How did this come about?

PP: Through Gus Dudgeon.  And I met Gus, because Clive flew me to London to play at the CBS convention in 1972, and he had me private audition for Gus at that time, and Gus and I just fell in love with each other. I donʻt mean in the romantic sense - I mean in the artist to artist sense.  So I moved to London for a year, and worked with Gus throughout on this unreleased album. I did get to meet Elton a few times during that year, and even went to his house.

EJW: Did you and Elton ever get to collaborate on a song?

PP: I never got to work with Elton, but he was very nice to me - always a gentleman, and even after I moved back to California, when he came to play San Francisco he welcomed me backstage and was kind-hearted and generous with his time.

EJW: What are your thoughts about his late producer, Gus Dudgeon?

PP: I simply adored him. He was exceptional producer, and a dear, dear friend. It was a tragedy to lose him, both as a friend and an ally in the music business. He was smart, funny, talented - we used to laugh our heads off, and it was a joy to work with him. His production ideas were nothing short of brilliant, and I believe my album, which is now fourty two years old, holds up as a testimony to Gusʻs creative genius.

 EJW: Was the aforementioned your very first album, and were some - or all - songs written by you?

 PP: This was my third album - the first was with a group called the Gentle Soul, on Epic was released in 1968 or 69. That album was reissued by Sundazed in the early 2000ʻs, and again by Sony Japan in 2006.  That same year, Sony Japan also reissued my first solo album, originally released by Columbia Records in 1971.  The songs on the Gentle Soul album were collaborations between me and my songwriting/band partner Rick Stanley.  All songs on both solo albums were my originals 100%.
 
Pamela's last release, 2010's Hawaiianized, featured pop staples like Sailing, Here Comes The Sun, and Every Breath You Take - interpreted in Hawaiian style. Indeed, the performer has been a resident of  Maui for over a decade.  Read more about her at