An online friend called me on this recently,
on my post about the “Top Rock Albums of the 80’s”.
I had only one female performer listed.
( if you don’t count the bass player
for the Talking Heads, Tina Weymouth —
—-who is very, very, very good. )
I’m sorry, dammit.
Not withstanding the fact that I have every album that:
or Dolores O’Riordan (Cranberries) ever made….
I’m the only guy I know who owns all of Karen Carpenter’s solo work.
So, I do recognize what a force women have been in rock and roll…
And today’s post will be on “Cool Chick Singers” .
Ok— admittedly, it has a rather androcentric title,
but you wouldn’t want me to go turnin’ over a new leaf, now, would ya?
Now, I’m not gonna pretend to be all encompassing here…..
everybody knows that there are a gazillion good ones out there…..
And I figure the thousands that I skip
will leave me plenty of room for part 78 or part 117 blogs — etc, etc, etc…. ad nauseum.
But, I’d certainly appreciate you letting me know if I left any of your favorites out.
I recognize that some artists,
like Janis Joplin certainly belongs on any list of chick singers, no matter what genre ……
( have you heard her rare single:
” Janis Joplin — ” One Night Stand “? –
with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band ???)
…. as does Grace Slick,
Big Mama Thornton,
Dusty Springfield, Billie Holliday,
Sarah Vaughan, Cass Elliott,
Petula Clark, and Ella Fitzgerald.
Not to mention Joanie Mitchell, Janis Ian, Ruby Starr,
Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Judy Collins……
there, I went and mentioned them anyway.
A couple of these artists I have already focused a post on elsewhere,
like Ruby Starr, or Lydia Pense, so they might not get a further mention here.
This list ain’t in no particular order, either….
I hate to play favorites, ya know.
Ok… this first one is a favorite, and I am playing it.
Amy Winehouse has been described in a number of different ways–
Newsweek called her a “perfect storm of sex kitten, raw talent and poor impulse control”,
and the New Statesman was less kind: referring to her as a “filthy-mouthed, down-to-earth diva”.
Nobody with any taste reads those crappy magazines anyway.
What is important is Winehouse’s voice, style and phrasing —
Of course, most people only know one song of hers, “Rehab”,
….. which I have to say is less than stellar.
And since she prematurely self-destructed on drugs and alcohol in 2011 at age 27, the likelihood of hearing more of her MUCH, MUCH better work on the radio is pretty unlikely.
So, take it from your Ole Uncle Nuts —
— spend your last 10 bucks on her last recorded album — “Back To Black“.
Forget what you heard about her, forget the socio-cultural clap-trap.
On this, her second and last album to be released before her death…
you will hear a voice as sweet and soulful as Mahalia Jackson,
but as down & dirty as Janis ever was,
phrasing like only Blue Eyes used to use,
and raw power like Rollins on Stanozolol.
Important cuts are “Love is a Losing Game”, “Back to Black”, and “You Know I’m No Good”.
Man, it breaks my heart she won’t be around to do more stuff like this one.
Linda Ronstadt was unquestionably one of the most important female singers of Rock’s most important decade — the 1970’s.
The fact that she was only recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April, 2014, doesn’t diminish this importance — it might even emphasize it, considering how many great artists have been ignored by it.
In Linda’s case, her innate talent carried her through these years with a string of hits like “Tumblin’ Dice”, “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, and “Just One Look” —
— but not until she started working with Nelson Riddle on the first of three albums of classic American pop songs, like the Gershwins’ “I’ve Got A Crush On You”, “Someone To Watch Over Me”, Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do?”, Rodgers and Hart’s “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”, or Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady”, did her ability get matched up with technique.
Linda credits Nelson Riddle with teaching her breath control, phrasings and tonalities–
Now, she was free to reach her full potential as a great singer– and she certainly did so, with a number of beautifully and well-crafted albums, that ran the gamut from Jazz and Country to R&B, and of course, Rock.
Here’s Linda singing one of Warren Zevon’s pieces — “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me” .
Christine McVie and Fleetwood Mac :
Yes, they’re touring again…..
And it might surprise you to hear me say that Stevie Nicks was not my favorite singer in Fleetwood Mac.
Christine McVie has a much more beautiful voice, with a wider range, and better phrasing too.
Sure, maybe Stevie is sexier, in a goofy, impenetrably Orphic way,
….. but Christie’s mellow, mature delivery has always been much more appealing in the long run– and she’s a much better songwriter.
Her solo albums, at least the last two, one self titled,
from 1984, and “In The Meantime” from 2004, are real gems.
Important solo cuts include:
“Got A Hold On Me”, “Friend”, and “You Are”.
The fact that Christie was no longer touring with the group
was a painful reminder for me that all good things must come to an end—-
——— but she’s back — as of May, 2014.
Miracles really can happen, I guess.
I think I’ll actually go see them this year.
I’m gonna get a bit wonky on this next one, and if you call me crazy, well, I can dig that…
It seemed a bit crazy when I had the idea, but I figured I’d run it up the flagpole and see who dropped their pants.
If you’re in the United States,
you probably never heard the music of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt —
Collectively known as “Everything But The Girl“.
How about Corinne Drewery and Andy Connell —
and “Swing Out Sister” ?
how to explain, how to explain.
It’s like this…..
both of these groups have a huge following in the U.K.,
and I got to see Swing Out Sister in Japan and they took the place over.
They just don’t get any airplay here in the States.
You might have heard Sister’s “Breakout” ,
and maybe you’ll recognize Tracey’s voice from “Driving” —
As different as the groups are musically, they still have the same easy-going but still relevant pop groove going for ’em, and that’s why they ended up grouped together here—
That, and because I keep a playlist on my IPod dedicated just to their music.
If you haven’t had the pleasure, start out with these cuts :
Swing Out Sister : ” Something Every Day” , ” Time Tracks You Down” , “LaLa Means I Love You” —
…… the whole “Beautiful Mess” album is wonderful.
Everything But The Girl: ” Temperamental”, ” Rollercoaster”, “Meet Me in the Morning”.
I like “Amplified Heart” as their best album.
Oh, and pull yer pants up.
Actually another English duo — with Alison Goldfrapp on vocals, and Will Gregory on synth,
their sound is fresh, poppy, and hard to explain………
Maybe it’s just a state of mind.
Whatever it is, it’s fun , sexy, and easy to dance to.
And it makes great gym music.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals:
A singer and a band that plays straight from the heart —
it feels like music straight from those heady funk-rock-fusion days of the 1970’s…..
You must hear them LIVE if you can….
…. they toured with Gov’t Mule last year and really kicked up some dust.
Grace Potter plays organ, piano, guitar — and of course, she does vocals.
There’s no need for any studio tricks or auto-tune for this chick —
—- she can sing, dammit.
Sure, she’s hot, too.
But that’s not why she’s on this list.
She’s even got Vermont chocolates named after her– with red pepper flakes and pistachio.
They’re called “Grace Under Fire”.
Watch her play, and you’ll get it.
Dammit, I’m running out of time for this post, but I was determined I would get time to talk about the ultimate folk-rock diva — Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention.
As is often the case with abundantly talented people, Sandy was as hard to handle as a runaway dog sled, but her singing overrode all that — for a while, anyway.
She was a
( oh forget it, I’m tearing up and I’m outta time. )
I adored this lady.
The sound of Sandy’s voice still makes me stop, in wonder, in admiration, in ennui.
Here’s the song she is most remembered for, and one that has been redone so many times over the years in tribute to her songwriting —
“Who Knows Where The Time Goes”, with Fairport Convention.
So anyway, I’m gonna have to revisit this topic later–
———- there’s way too many great ones I left off.
Care to make any suggestions?