The latest edition of The Beat Goes On, the quirky radio show hosted by the editor of this website, is a special edition entitled Sisters with Voices – two hours of great music featuring only female artists, with hardly a male voice to be heard apart from the presenter (me).
As well as a tribute to the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, you can hear Ella Fitzgerald, Grace Jones, Kate Bush, Sister Sledge … and many more. Listen to the whole show any time online by following this link to Mixcloud.
If you haven’t time to listen to the whole thing, this is the first of two blogposts containing a full playlist and cool links to all the music, with video clips.
So settle back and enjoy the show!
Britney channels her inner Cher – or is it Sonny? – with this strange, but oddly haunting, live version of the show’s theme song. The album track was produced by The All Seeing I, whose own version of the tune was featured last month. Both were based on Buddy Rich’s arrangement, starring his 12-year-old daughter Cathy, 30 years earlier.
Now it’s time for a welcoming Hello, Hooray from Judy Collins. If you only know this song from the Alice Cooper cover, you are in for a treat. Judy’s beautiful, pure voice is at its thrilling best. From her fine 1968 album Who Knows Where the Time Goes. The superb guitar is by Stephen Stills.
The theme of this show is “sisters with voices”, so here are S-Double-U-V in 2000, sampling Human Nature, the best song (in my humble opinion) on Thriller.
Coming up next: one of the first singles of the 1980s, and one of the best. Two Marthas and a bunch of Canadian guys singing about a beach that didn’t exist. Catchy and exhilarating, it sounds as fresh today as it did 38 years ago.
From Echo Beach to Sandie Shaw. The 1967 Eurovision Song Contest winner had acquired a bit more attitude by the time she recorded this with The Smiths (minus Morrissey) in 1984.
Patrice Rushen is such a superb artist, as singer, composer, and (more recently) jazz pianist. She is still best known, and destined to remain so, for her 1982 post-disco classic Forget Me Nots. Patrice cowrote the song with Freddie Washington, who is on bass; Gerald Albright plays the saxophone solo.
Before I played this, I tried to teach my listeners, the good people of Newbury and Thatcham, in Berkshire, England, how to clap along with it. Feel free to join in. Ready … one (clap), two (clap), three (clap), four (clap clap) …
Next, in The Beat Goes On’s regular People Say We Monkee Around slot, it’s Susanna Hoffs, of the Bangles, aided by Matthew Sweet, with a lovely live version of Michael Nesmith’s Different Drum (written for, but not recorded by, The Monkees, although briefly performed in the TV show). From Under the Covers, the duo’s 2006 album.
And now, ladies and gentlemen … HERE’S GRACE!
Style or substance? How about both, as demonstrated by Grace Jones on not just one of the finest records, but one of the most iconic events, of the 1980s. Strange now to think Slave to the Rhythm was originally intended as Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s follow-up to Relax. Click here, and you can join the 100 or so people who have heard the demo of their very different version.
American Spring – originally a trio called The Honeys, then Spring, but there was a rival Spring, so they changed again – were Marilyn Wilson, wife of Brian Wilson, and her sister Diane Rovell. Shyin’ Away (1972) was co-produced by Brian, and the instrumental arrangement is very Brian-esque.
Great title for the latest single from one of my favourite British bands, a restrained affair by their standards: a steel band sound with a lilting choral melody. Live, The Go! Team resemble The Spice Girls on speed. Fun, but exhausting.
From Nuyorican Soul’s 1997 debut album, which features guest appearances from, among others, Roy Ayers, George Benson, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Tito Puente. Jocelyn Brown is the lead singer on this faithful cover of the stunning 1971 recording by Rotary Connection (a psychedelic soul band whose members included the late Minnie Ripperton).
The best Motown single EVER. Or at least, one of the best. If an alien from Mars ever lands in your garden and you want to teach them what pop music is all about in just a couple of minutes, I suggest you play them this. And it’s not just Diana Ross: the backing vocals are great too.
James Taylor, the world’s greatest Hammond organist, and his brilliant quartet, featuring Yvonne Yanney’s fine lead vocal, bring the first half of the show, and this blogpost, to a close.
Coming soon: the second half of the show, featuring Duffy, Ella Fitzgerald, The Slits, The Go-Go’s, Aretha Franklin and lots more!