Friday, August 17, 2007

that voice (re-re-return!)

Fangirl and Sit Down Man You're a Bloody Tragedy both chip in re. that voice

Owen is spot on--yes, it’s the absence of grain and groin, of rhythm-and-blues grit and raspy earthiness, that makes for a different kind of alluring

there's a commanding quality that could be sexy (if that’s what turns you on)but there's no sensuality as such

also heard from a young man called Christian Schick who used the word "enchantress" which is also dead on

Grace Slick described her onstage image/aura as "a bit witchy"-- also 'fascist' meant in a jokey way for sure, but still..)

chatting to Christian, it struck me there might be some European singers who belong in the that voice canon -- the woman in Curved Air (Sonja Kristian? what a great ice queen name eh) -- the singer in Shocking Blue (who died recently, didn't she) not so much for "Venus" which is great in its Doors-in-pop-mode way but for the harrowing thrill-chill of "Love Buzz" -- also the woman who fronted Savage Rose maybe, although the only one of their discography I've actually heard is the one that's almost entirely instrumental so I'm just going by repute here

Nico is an ice queen for sure but doesn't have the sheer lung power for that voice

what makes me think of show tunes is that ability to really hold a long note (e.g. 'White Rabbit', that final sustained cry which always makes me think of a lance or javelin running through your body)

I've been toying for a while with the idea that's there an inherent authoritarianism to showbiz.. is it innately right-wing in some way? Evita as a pre-Thatcherite fantasy of the strong leader reimposing order, that's obvious... Andrew Lloyd Weber was part of a cabal of people who favored a coup in the mid-Seventies, to tame the unions, right? But the whole structure of showbiz is the opposite of rock's idea of community, it's a monologue, a spectacle, a one-way transmission... singer as authority figure not representative of the people. the more showbiz rock gets (Queen a good example here) the more it gets fascist-y

Although she's a bit grainy to really fit the that voice mode Stevie Nicks got close at points, and the piercingly pure voiced "Rhiannon" is where witchiness rises to the surface as a conscious trope -- "she rules her life like a bird in flight" (Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" reversed, turned feminist)... woman as endlessly receding from your grasp mystery ... "will you ever win?" -- the answer: No!

a look, don't touch thing -- yes it's appeal (to both genders, for different reasons)is easy to see

then there's Siouxsie who i always thought owed something to Grace Slick (although she never mentions her as an influence) -- and with the Creatures 'Right Now', she takes the ice queen thing back to showbiz (it's a cover of some famous big band standard, right?). on that song Siouxsie sounds brassy yet still ice-veined -- totally imperious. a dominatrix.

that voice pops up in the oddest places -- like the theme song of Kath and Kim! Which i'm guessing is actually sung by the actress who plays Kim. 'The Joker' was originally an Anthony Newley song I believe. Again it's the long sustained final note - 'the joker is meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' plus the 'ha!' exhalation-as-bitter-self-scornful-laughter that gives me a genuine frisson
in a camp sublime sort of way

and talking of the interface of between show tunes and rock, and Evita on passant, having i ever confessed here before my erm susceptibility to Rock Follies? Videocassettes of the entirety of series 1 and all but the last episode (oh the frustration!) of series 2 were left in a cardboard box in our garbage chute area some years ago and I scooped them up out of curiosity.

The stridency of Julie Covington has a strange appeal, despite it at times verging on unpleasantly shrill.

Her folk rock album for Virgin, despite the Richard and Linda Thompson song, John Cale, creme of Britfolk session players etc involved, is lame though, her voice is too strident for folk, again suggesting that that voice comes from a different place altogether, has nothing to do with the Anne Briggs or Joan Baez lineages

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