This week we celebrated the centenary of International Women’s Day with a show dedicated to my favourite Aussie female singers. Some are solo performers and others front bands but the thing they all have in common is that they are strong, talented and inspiring women.
We opened the show with Christine Anu’s version of I’M A WOMAN. It’s from her Intimate and Deadly album, which was recorded live at the Sydney Opera House Studio and released in November 2010. Christine is presently performing in London with the production The Sapphires, the Australian play about a singing group of four Koori women who tour Vietnam in 1968, a year after the referendum expanding the rights of Aborigines.
It’s 100 years since the first International Women’s Day event was run. Did you know that in 1911 more than one million women and men attended rallies, campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination? Yes, we’ve come a long way baby, but there’s still work to be done.
Renee Geyer knows all about what it’s like to try and make it in a man’s world. She has long been regarded as one of the finest exponents of jazz, soul & R&B in this country and her version of James Brown’s IT’S A MAN’S WORLD brought her well-deserved commercial success in 1974:
Local girls Melia and Nerida Naughton are Scarlett Affection, a multi-talented duo with lots to say about love and life in their own unique folk/pop style. Their song ROMANTIC is one of my favourites; it’s from their album Our Sweet Ambush.
When it comes to Aussie rock, Suze De Marchi of The Baby Animals has to have one of the best voices out there. Here’s the band performing ONE WORD in 1991:
Another of the stars of the stage show The Sapphires, presently wowing them in London, is Casey Donovan. She was very young, only 16, when she won the Australian Idol competition a few years back, but she weathered the instant fame train and is now creating a substantial career in musical theatre. Here she is kicking off her BIG, BEAUTIFUL & SEXY tour, when she took to the stage of the famous Spiegel Tent in Adelaide SA, at the 2010 Fringe:
In China, Armenia, Russia, Vietnam, Bulgaria and many other countries International Women’s Day is an official holiday. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues etc. with flowers and small gifts. Gotta love that!
You’ve also gotta love Darwin singer Leah Flanagan. We played her very appropriate track, PRETTY GIRLS. And then it was pop/dance duo Madison Avenue, with Cheyne Coates on vocals. She does a great job on the wonderfully assertive WHO THE HELL ARE YOU. That girl knows how to put an outfit together too!
Deborah Conway has weathered the ups and downs of a fickle music industry and these days is finding happy harmony between family and fame. SPOKEN LIKE A MAN is from the album Half Man Half Woman.
The wonderful Christa Hughes, with her Dad Dick, blew everyone away at the last Mullumbimby Music Festival. Here they are on the ABCTV show ‘Spicks & Specks’ with a version of Memphis Slim’s BEER DRINKIN’ WOMAN. And as the clip shows, this girl could drink most of you under the table! (not sure if that’s a good thing though!)
Mama Kin sang I’M GONNA DO IT from her Beat and Holler album and then it was Tin Pan Orange with Emily Lubitz and her amazing lead vocals on THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE.
The year 2010 was a busy one for Megan Washington and the album I Believe You, Liar. She picked up two ARIA awards – Best Female Artist and Best Breakthrough Artist, and broke records with sell out shows around the nation. Here she is with footage from her EPK, talking about her hit album I BELIEVE YOU LIAR, where she discusses the themes and style she pursues in her songwriting.
Another terrific singer/songwriter is local Byron girl Sarah McGregor. She may not be as recognised as others at the moment, but she has already produced a number of albums that I totally adore. One of my favourite songs is MORE TO LIFE.
A group which also established themselves here in Byron Bay, before knocking everyone out both in Australia and overseas is Blue King Brown with Natalie out front. This is the kind of music that gets you out of your seat and moving! And its political! Love them. And love the song COME AND CHECK YOUR HEAD.
Kasey Chambers’s song NOT PRETTY ENOUGH was released in 2001 and is from her album Barricades and Brickwalls. Chambers became the first country artist to have a #1 single and album on the charts simultaneously.
Back in 1985 the standout female artist was the iconic Ms Chrissie Amphlett of the Divinyls. Watch this video and you may understand why her aggressive, psycho-sexual persona freaked out US record label wowsers who wanted their women blonde, deferential and subservient. Yes, there’s a fine line between PLEASURE & PAIN.
A very different kind of performer, and a fantastic songwriter as well, is Little Birdy’s Katy Steele. She’s now living in New York and has gone solo, and there’s nothing but blue sky ahead for her. Here she is with Little Birdy’s HAIRDO:
Katy Noonan has a sublime voice and its demonstrated to perfection on her cover of Soundgarden’s BLACK HOLE SUN.
Here’s Vanessa Amorosi’s #1 single and neo-feminist anthem, THIS IS WHO I AM. “I don’t care if I’m fat or if you think my clothes are bad. I can go to sleep at night. I’m a good person and I’ll get by.” You go girl!
There were lots of requests for Sarah Blasko and it was difficult to choose just one song from her repertoire but I do love ALL I WANT. It’s from her album As Day Follows Night.
Two great groups with amazing female singers are The Waifs and The Audreys. The Waifs are a folk rock band from Western Australia which includes sisters Vikki Thorn (hamonica, guitar, vocals) and Donna Simpson (guitar, vocals), The Audreys line-up includes the very talented Taasha Coates on vocals (and a variety of instruments). So, it was FISHERMAN’S DAUGHTER from the Waifs and the very funny NOTHING WRONG WITH ME from The Audreys
I’m gong to be away for a couple of weeks so I thought it was fitting to include Julia & Angus Stone’s song BIG JET PLANE. Yes, I know that Angus is quite dominant on this one, but it just goes to show that men and women can collaborate and produce some very beautiful music!
I know that many of the younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ but us old feminists know that there is still a lot of work to be done. Yes, there are more women in the boardroom, there is greater equality and we have some impressive role models in all walks of life. But the unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics and, globally, women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men. However, great improvements have been made and today women do have real choices, so let’s celebrate the positive and, here’s an idea, let’s make every day International Women’s Day. Let’s all do our bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
Although I won’t be here for the next two weeks, fear not as Theme Park will continue with the lovely Des in the hotseat. Who knows what fabulous themes he’ll be bringing you because I’m giving him a free hand! Could be scary!
No blogs for that period, but make sure you listen in on
Here’s this week’s playlist:
I’m A Woman - Christine Anu, Intimate And Deadly
It’s A Man’s Man’s World – Renée Geyer, The Ultimate Collection
Romantic – Scarlett Affection, Our Sweet Ambush
One Word – Baby Animals, Baby Animals
Big, Beautiful & Sexy – Casey Donovan, Big, Beautiful & Sexy
Pretty Girls – Leah Flanagan, Leah Flanagan Band
Who The Hell Are You – Madison Avenue
Spoken Like A Man – Deborah Conway, Half Man Half Woman
Beer Drinkin’ Woman – Dick and Christa Hughes, 21st Century Blues
I’m Gonna Do It – Mama Kin, Beat And Holler
The Bottom Of The Lake – Tinpan Orange, The Bottom Of The Lake
Down On Love – Sarah Blasko, As Day Follows Night
I Believe You Liar – Washington, I Believe You Liar
More To Life – Sarah McGregor, More To Life
Come And Check Your Head – Blue King Brown
Not Pretty Enough – Kasey Chambers, Barricades & Brickwalls
Pleasure And Pain – Divinyls, Make You Happy 1981-93
Hairdo – Little Birdy, Never Mind The Lipstick
Black Hole Sun – Katie Noonan, Time To Begin
This Is Who I Am – Vanessa Amorosi, Hazardous
All I Want – Sarah Blasko, As Day Follows Night
Fisherman’s Daughter – The Waifs,
Nothing Wrong With Me – The Audreys, Between Last Night and Us
Big Jet Plane, Angus & Julia Stone
Next 3 weeks: DES IS IN THE HOTSEAT WHILE I’M AWAY
Let me ask you this: who else has known you your entire life and witnessed your family’s capacity for love and/or dysfunction? Brothers and Sisters! Sibling relationships run deep, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s because of this that the chemistry between siblings can be quite complex, sometimes verging on the volatile. They don’t call it sibling rivalry for nothing. I can remember having actual fisty cuffs with my sister who is only 18months younger than me, but if anyone else threatened her, they had hell to pay.
So, lots of reason to pay tribute to our brothers and sisters. We started the show with a request from the lovely Nicky from Fridays breakfast program ‘That Friday Feeling’: Sister Sledge with WE ARE FAMILY. We followed with a request from Judi - The Hollies and HE AIN’T HEAVY HE’S MY BROTHER.
Robyn is a regular contributor to the show and she always has great suggestions. One of the best from her this week was JJ Cale and Eric Clapton’s DON’T CRY SISTER. It’s rare that the distinctive quality of sibling relationships is captured so well in song. Here’s a couple more that do it for me: In This Mortal Coil’s YOU AND YOUR SISTER, the lover’s sister is of the overprotective variety. Being the eldest of three kids, I can’t help but think this was written for me. Another is from brother and sister duo, The Knife, with PASS THIS ON. Their tense, steel drum electro adds a whole other dimension to the lyrics. ‘I’m in love with your brother’, Karin Dreijer urgently confides. “You’ll pass this on, wont you?”. Oooh, risky request that one. I really love this video clip though:
Des from BayFM’s Colours of Byron program suggested an oldie but a goodie, Elvis Presley with one for all the younger sisters out there: LITTLE SISTER.
When choosing music for our show about Brothers and Sisters I tried to choose songs that were about the biological kind over those about the brotherhood of man but songs like Tom Waits version of BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE ME A DIME, had to be included. I just love Tom’s idiosyncratic style.
Robyn could program this show all on her own, so prolific is she with her suggestions each week. Thanks Rob! Two more of Rob’s requests were Patti Labelle with LADY MARMALADE and Terence Trent D’Arby’s DANCE LITTLE SISTER. What ever happened to him? Come back wherever you are!
Switching genres, it was time for some southern rock, with a song from Johnny Van Zant, lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd and younger brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd co-founder, and former lead vocalist, Ronnie Van Zant. The song, BRICKYARD ROAD, is about Ronnie who was killed in a plane crash in 1977.
DANIEL is a song written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and recorded by John for his album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Just the Piano Player. The song tells the story of a returning Vietnam vet, from his brother’s point of view. Another great song about a brother was written by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. SPACEBOY is about his younger brother who has a rare genetic chromosomal disorder.
“Hey Little Sister What have you done?” asks Billy Idol on WHITE WEDDING. Yet, another great suggestion from Robyn:
Our next song touched a nerve because it’s a saying that my daughter used to say to me when she started kindergarden, although in this case its about a sibling asserting himself. It’s They Might Be Giants with YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME NOW. We’ll follow with a great song from The Kinks: COME DANCING. It’s a fond tribute to Ray Davies’ older sister and the demise of the local dance hall. We followed with a little samba from Brazilian Jorge Benjor, TAKE IT EASY MY BROTHER CHARLES.
Bobby Hebb wrote SUNNY after President Kennedy was assassinated and his own brother was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub on the same day: November 22, 1963. Considering the circumstances its a beautifully optimistic piece of music.
Funnily enough, so is Bruce Springsteen’s HIGHWAY PATROLMAN. The song recounts how lawman Joe Roberts runs into his black-sheep brother, only to find that blood is thicker than water. I like the sentiment expressed in this one: ”a man turns his back on his family, he just ain’t no good.” Johnny Cash also does a brilliant version of this track, but I rarely play Springsteen, so he got a run this week. We followed with a great piece of country, Steve Earle’s TELEPHONE ROAD.
Marvyn Gaye’s WHAT’S HAPPENING BROTHER is about Gaye’s brother who was serving in Vietnam at the time. The song is a precursor to WHAT’S GOING ON which was based on the same brothers letters. We followed with real life siblings, The Neville Brothers, and BROTHER JOHN.
It was good to be able to include something local: Sarah McGregor’s GOODNIGHT SISTERS is a gorgeous ode to her two sisters. And then it was the incredibly versatile group The Arcade Fire with NEIGHBORHOOD #2.
John Fogarty has said in interviews that Creedence Clearwater Revival’s HAVE YOU SEEN THE RAIN is about rising tensions within CCR and the imminent departure of his brother Tom from the band. See, and you thought it was about the Vietnam War didn’t you. Me too!
Lily Allen has a brother, not unlike my own, so her song ALFIE was dedicated to my younger brother who isn’t well at the moment. Keep smiling Pete.
Our final choice was a beautiful song, suggested by Des. It’s by Antony & The Johnsons with some help from Boy George. It’s called YOU ARE MY SISTER and I dedicated this one to my sister who celebrated her birthday on July 27.
Next week, its a subject that all of us in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales are familiar with: INSECTS AND SPIDERS. I’ll need some help on this one, so get in touch!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
We Are Family – The Full Monty Soundtrack, Sister Sledge
He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother -The Hollys
Don’t Cry Sister – JJ Cale & Eric Clapton
You and Your Sister – Blood, This Mortal Coil
Pass this On – Deep Cuts, The Knife
Little Sister – Rare Elvis, Vol. 3, Elvis Presley
Brother Can You Spare A Dime? – Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, Tom Waits
Lady Marmalade – Best of Patti Labelle, Patti Labelle
Dance Little Sister – Terence Trent Darby
Brickyard Road – Brickyard Road, Johnny Van Zant
Daniel – Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Just the Piano Player, Elton John
Spaceboy – Siamese Dream, The Smashing Pumpkins
White Wedding – Wedding Singer, Billy Idol
Boss Of Me – They Might Be Giants
Come dancing – The Kinks
Take It Easy My Brother Charles – Pure Brazil: Electric Samba Groove, Jorge Benjor
Sunny – Bobby Hebb
Highway Patrolman – Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen
Telephone Road – Steve Earle
What’s Happening Brother – What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye
Brother John – The Very Best of the Neville Brothers, The Neville Brothers
Goodnight Sisters – Beautiful Thing, Sarah McGregor
Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – Funeral, The Arcade Fire
Have You Ever Seen The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Alﬁe – Lily Allen
You Are My Sister (feat. Boy George) – I Am A Bird Now, Antony & The Johnsons
Next week: INSECTS & SPIDERS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time