BayFM has installed Airnet which is a groovy plug-in to their website that links my playlist to all the things I used to spend hours compiling on this blog. Of course you don’t get all my witty repartee, but I’ll be calling in here each week with shorter and sweeter anecdotes for you, as I see fit.
In the meantime you can get the playlist by hopping onto my Presenter’s Page at BayFM99.9 in Byron Bay and don’t forget that, wherever you are, you can always listen via the streaming facility.
Today’s show on CLASSIC FLOOR FILLERS is already up, so check it out, listen in, and you can always leave me messages here on the blog, or at my email address listed below. Love to get your feedback or suggestions for themes or tracks. Next week, its B-sides!
The playlist and lots of linked info is HERE.
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 http://www.bayfm.org
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
This week we’re celebrating that Australia finally has a female PrimeMinister in Julia Gillard – it only took 109 years! The show was on the F word, no not THAT word – I’m talking FEMINIST SONGS, GRRRL POWER. It’s a complex topic and I had to have a criterion for the list, otherwise I would have gone absolutely nuts trying to make a selection. So it came down to the lyrics. Obviously what I think makes a feminist song is totally subjective, but hopefully my choices made for an interesting and fun couple of hours.
Le Tigre kicked the show off with HOT TOPIC, a song that pays tribute to dozens of female visual artists, musicians, writers and feminists who have inspired them, including Yoko Ono, Aretha Franklin, The Slits and others. Le Tigre was founded by Kathleen Hanna. She’d previously fronted the band Bikini Kill, a leading light in the Gen X Riot Grrrl movement of the early 90’s. Riot Grrrls didn’t just create music. They published zines, produced their artwork and group exhibitions. The movement spawned current performance artists like Amanda Palmer, Peaches and M.I.A. Have a peek at Le Tigre:
Moving into the show proper, we travelled back in time to 1963 when Peggy Lee recorded I’M A WOMAN. This was at a time when multi-tasking meant being able to do all the housework andpowder your nose at the same time. By 1975 Loretta Lyn had released the first song about birth control, called THE PILL, about a little dose of hormones that would change society and history forever. Can you believe that it was banned from radio? In 1975! We have come a long way baby.
Now you were probably wondering whether any songs about women, written by men, met with my approval. Well, there were a few, (not many mind you). Here’s one: In 1978, Queen speculated that it wasn’t gravity but, in fact, FAT BOTTOMED GIRLS that made the earth go round. Fascinating. Thirty years later the scientific community is still to respond, even though Queen’s guitarist Brian May (who wrote this track) was studying for a PhD in astronomy at the time, which lends some sort of credibility to the argument don’t you think? Over the years this song has proved a useful rebuff to the portrayal of women in popular culture as little more than skinny minnies. And, at the very least, you have to congratulate a song with the lyrics, “Take me to them lardy ladies every time!”.
Keeping to the theme, let’s talk about an artist who has the sisterhood in a quandry. Beyonce sings all about being an independent woman and, yet, she still wants her fella to put a ring on it. But I must admit a liking for Destiny’s Child and especially the track BOOTYLICIOUS. Here are women in possession of their own bodies, their own sexuality and their own lives. When they solemnly announce “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly” in their ode to the joys of shakeable bottoms, the cheering from millions of pear-shaped women world-wide is deafening.
We followed with a song by the Scissor Sisters called SHE’S MY MAN, a song that tells of a woman who “takes her drinks with dust and rusty razor blades”. It then goes on to assert that “She’s my man and we got all the balls we need”. Not sure if this is a tribute to a transvestite or a particularly gutsy woman, but I’m somewhat encouraged by the fact, that in this age of sexual equality, it doesn’t really matter.
A couple of great duets were lined up next: Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox with the 1985 anthem SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES and the 2003 release of CAN’T HOLD US DOWN by Christina Aguilerra and Lil Kim.
An artist who must surely qualify for our pro-feminist list is Peaches. She writes provocative lyrics that challenge traditional notions of gender. Her songs are nearly always sexually explicit which means that I can’t always include her in my playlists but there is one that did get away with playing this week, as it’s quite tame, for her anyway. Here she is with BOYS WANNA BE HER. Kick-ass band too.
The fight for sexual equality has always been one of the cornerstones of the feminist movement but back in the 40’s, way before we burnt our bras, the early Blues and jazz singers got away with murder with their proudly promiscuous and highly enjoyable music. You just heard Big Mama Thornton with her twist on the Sonny Boy Williamson song Good Mornin’ Little School Girl. Her version is called, what else, SCHOOL BOY. And then it was Julia and Her Boyfriends who know exactly what they want in GOTTA GIMME WATCHA GOT.
At the show’s half way mark Lesley Gore belted out YOU DON’T OWN ME, recorded in 1964 and covered later by Dusty Springfield and Joan Jett, among others. It also featured on the soundtrack of the film THE FIRST WIVES CLUB, a nice little revenge flick about three divorced women whose husbands have left them for younger models. It does happen you know! Here’s Lesley:
Next up it was a suggestion from Cath: Bluegrass duo Truckstop Honeymoon with BAD ATTITUDE. And to follow I chose an artist who has attitude with a capital ‘A’, M.I.A. with PAPER PLANES, on which she samples The Clash’s STRAIGHT TO HELL.
Had to include the wonderful Neko Case with PRETTY GIRLS, a song about abortion and the guilt-trip that’s put on women, particularly if they’re good looking. A nice pairing in tone, for this one, was WOMAN from John Lennon, a bloke who towards the end of his short life at least was very much the feminist.
If you’re looking for opinionated, then you can’t go past the next two tracks: First up, the great Patti Labelle with NEW ATTITUDE and Madison Avenue with WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?
Just saw the new film RUNAWAYS which I thought was going to be about Joan Jet but its not. It’s based on Cherry Bomb, the vocalist with the band, played to perfection by Dakota Fanning. Couldn’t help but be disappointed however with Kristin Stewart’s depiction of Joan. So, let’s make up for it with the stand out ‘up yours’ track, BAD REPUTATION. Here’s Joan Jett & The Blackhearts:
This one was a given: Aretha Franklin with a song that served both the Women’s Liberation & Civil Rights movements equally well. It is, of course, her cover of Otis Redding’s RESPECT.
Ani DiFranco is certainly no damsel in distress on NOT A PRETTY GIRL from the album of the same name, released in 1995 on her own record label with the fabulous name of Righteous Babe Records. Way to go: control the means of production!
Had to include another John Lennon track because he really was a card-carrying feminist. Here’s a clip of him performing WOMAN IS THE NIGGER OF THE WORLD on the Dick Cavett show. Having said all that, it does disturb me somewhat how submissive Yoko appears to be. Hmmmm. And, like, what’s with the drumming?
Heading towards the end of the show, there was just time to play Jeannie C. Riley’s HARPER VALLEY PTA about the struggles of a single mum in a small town, recorded in 1968. Riley was the first women ever to top the US pop and country singles charts with this song. The achievement would not be repeated until 1981 when Dolly Parton topped the same charts with the song you heard next – 9 to 5 – from the movie of the same name, about equality in the workplace.
Who better to close the show than Janis Joplin? This song was originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton and covered to perfection by Janis and Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1967. Here they are performing in Germany, 1969. The song: BALL & CHAIN.
Next week the theme will be UNLIKELY COVERS. Think Johnny Cash covering the Nine Inch Nails track HURT or Sonic Youth’s version of the Carpenters SUPERSTAR, that kind of thing. I’d love to hear from you with your own suggestions.
Here’s this week’s full playlist:
Hot Topic – Le Tigre
I’m A Woman – Peggy Lee
The Pill – Loretta Lynn
Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
Bootylicious – Survivor, Destiny’s Child
She’s My Man, Ta-Dah, Scissor Sisters
Courtship of Eddie’s Father – Movie clip
Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves, Aretha Franklin/Annie Lennox
Can’t Hold Us Down – Stripped, Christina Aguilera and Lil Kim
Boys Wanna Be Her, Impeach My Bush, Peaches
Don’t Call Me Baby, Madison Avenue
School Boy – Ball n Chain, Big Mama Thornton
Gotta Gimme Watcha Got – Sugar in My Bowl, Julia & Her Boyfriends
You Don’t Own Me, Billboard Top 100 of 1964, Lesley Gore
Bad Attitude – Diamohds in the Asphalt, Truckstop Honeymoon
Paper Planes – Kala, M.I.A.
Pretty Girls – Blacklisted, Neko Case
Woman – Double Fantasy, John Lennon
New Attitude – Patti Labelle
Who The Hell Are You? – Madison Avenue
Women Know Your Limits – Harry Enfield BBC (Comedy Clip)
Bad Reputation – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Respect – Aretha Franklin
Not A Pretty Girl – Not A Pretty Girl, Ani DiFranco
Woman Is The Nigger of the World, The John Lennon Collection, John Lennon
Harper Valley P.T.A. – 60 Number One Hits of the 60’s, Jeannie C. Riley
9-5 – The Essential Dolly Parton, Dolly Parton
Ball & Chain – Cheap Thrills, Janis Joplin/Big Brother & the Holding Company
Next week: UNLIKELY COVERS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn