Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Alternative Rock, Jazz, Pop, Rock
Listen to Samples
In a Class Of Her Own
JLee | Los Angeles, Ca | 11/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Were I to find myself on a desert island with only a solar powered CD player and one disc, this would be the one. Since it's release in the late seventies, I continue to marvel at how fresh this self-produced record sounds. In short, each song is a gem and as a collection (combined with Genya equally amazing "and I Mean It") they are the ultimate primer for what great Rock and Roll is about. In short, the production is dynamic and flawless, the band is smoking and the songs are incredbile (Joe Droukas' Shadowboxing still sends chills up the spine everytime I hear it).
That's about the record... now, about Genya. If you don't know her work, then forget any of the nonsensical comparisons you might have read and go out and and discover her for yourself. The woman is in a class all her own and is one of the finest vocalists in any genre, and over her impressive career she has covered them all. Do yourself a favor, check out her book "Lollipop Lounge" and her website: [...]. This is the REAL DEAL!
Bottom line, If you love Rock and Roll that's straight from the soul, order Urban Desire and marvel at this amazing talent!"
A Venerable 60's and 70's Rock Goddess
Mike B. | 03/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though she had considerable success, Genya Ravan is probably remembered more by music historians than by the general public. She's famous for fronting the first all-girl rock band (Goldie and The Gingerbreads), and as singer for the jazz/rock ensemble Ten Wheel Drive. Both were groundbreaking acts, and their influence reverberates to this day.
Originally known as Goldie Zelkowitz, she'd been raised in Poland until the age of nine, at which point her family emigrated to Manhattan's Lower East Side. She was very young when she became the singer with a band called The Escorts with Goldie in 1961. In 1962 they put out their first single, and into 1963 they released a few more. They even had a regional hit (in the midwest) with their version of "Somewhere" from "West Side Story". Needless to say, this wasn't the kind of material that would put her on the map.
That would happen in 1964 with the formation of Goldie and The Gingerbreads. They weren't a novelty act. Nor were they like the Supremes or other "girl groups" of the era. Not only did the band rock, but the girls played their own instruments - and played them well! They gigged around New York and made a name for themselves performing at various clubs and private star-studded parties. Eric Burdon (of The Animals) saw a show, was impressed by Goldie's "black-sounding" vocals, and later recorded them singing "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat". The single charted in England, but they were cheated of a U.S. hit by Herman's Hermits' cover version. More singles ensued (they never released an album), but big success eluded them.
According to her excellent memoir "Lollipop Lounge" (2004), England and America had some kind of work-exchange arrangement, and the British acts could only come to America if England welcomed an American act in return. This led to Goldie and The Gingerbreads frequently going to England, where they would tour as openers for all the major British rock acts of the day, including the Stones and the Kinks. Because of this, numerous British groups were permitted to tour America. In all seriousness, this could be Genya's greatest contribution to American pop culture. She allowed the British Invasion to happen!
After the collapse of her all-girl group in 1968, Goldie changed her name to Genya Ravan and became the lead singer of Ten Wheel Drive. Between 1969 and 1971 they released 3 splendid albums of jazz/rock. With founding members Michael Zager, Adam Schefrin, and an ever changing line-up of horn players - Genya and band headlined at college campuses everywhere, and opened for huge stars like Steppenwolf and Sly and the Family Stone in big arenas.
The quick and lazy way to describe the group would be this: they sounded like Janis Joplin singing with Blood, Sweat & Tears. But that's really not fair. Genya was more versatile than Janis. True, Genya wailed like the best of them at times - but she could also be as subtle as Astrud Gilberto, as swinging as Sarah Vaughan, or as r&b as Etta James. She proved she could do all this on the Ten Wheel Drive records and on her excellent solo debut album "Genya Ravan" (1972). Her only serious vocal competition was Bonnie Bramlett of the supergroup Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, but they were more straight-forward country/blues, rock and gospel than the more sophisticated and intricately arranged TWD. Genya got to show off her chops more than Bonnie. So did her band.
After Ten Wheel Drive broke up and her first solo album failed, Genya released a series of albums she wasn't fully satisfied with. She felt their creative direction had been wrested away from her, and this led to her parallel career as a record producer. Ravan would become the first woman producer to be hired by a major label. She produced the punk rock debut album of the Dead Boys, the comeback album for Ronnie Spector, and many others. But most importantly she produced her own "Urban Desire" (1978).
What can I say about this record? That it's perfect? Yes, it is. That it sums up her entire life up till that time? Yes, it does. The lyrics reflect New York and life and love as she lived it; her vocal phrasing sums up a lifetime of experience and wisdom. The difference this time out is the record totally rocks. It sounds a lot like the kind of music Rod Stewart made with the Faces. She alternates between tough and tender. There's a few slower songs (including the bluesy, brilliant "Shadowboxing"), but there's no jazz. "Jerry's Pigeons" is fantastic and sounds like a Phil Spector production. The whole album is exciting and fun. Every song is great!
She duplicated this feat a year later when she produced her equally wonderful follow-up album "...And I Mean It!" (1979). Then she wasn't heard from for over 20 years until her odds-and-sods "For Fans Only" CD, the release of her autobiography, and the great "Genya Ravan Live" CD (2006) recorded at CBGB's a year earlier. Around that time she had performed a few shows in New York. The "missing years" were spent producing and working in the promotional departments of record labels big and small (including CBGB's label). A perusal of her official website reveals she's currently a part-time DJ on satellite radio, and still keeping an eye on new bands with the idea of producing them. Nearly fifty years in the business and she's still going strong.
So, what to make of Genya Ravan? Let's review, shall we? First of all, she was the first well-known woman record producer in a field still dominated by men. Secondly - and most significantly - no other artist (woman or man) in music history has spanned so many different eras. She was there in the doo-wop ballad era with The Escorts, she was there during the go-go years of the girl groups with the only group that could play, she was an active participant of the British Invasion, she was part of the hippie scene with a band that was a forerunner of melding together jazz and rock, and she was a 70's rock star involved with the birth of punk. She's the "Queen Mother" of rock. You should buy her!"
Stunning NYC Rock 'n' Roll
Dee Sharp | Long Beach, CA United States | 01/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I picked this record up at a friend's suggestion. A former New Yorker myself, he thought I'd like it. He couldn't have been more right. Each note brings back the sights, smells and sounds of New York City in the late '70s. This is a must have for any New Yorker. As the other reviewer wrote, this is gutbucket rock 'n' roll from the soul. The record is brilliant from start to end, but it's her version of The Supremes' "Back In My Arms Again" that ends up on repeat."