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12.10.08

Renée Geyer




Renée Geyer - Blues License - 1978 - Mushroom

During the 1980's and 1990's, Renee Geyer, the great Australian soul/blues/jazz/R&B singer spent a great deal of time between Australia and America performing with artists like Sting, Chaka Kan, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Brown. She also toured Europe with Joe Cocker and Chaka Khan. She really needs to be more widely heard outside the Australasian area. This album is a good starter if you need a demonstration of Renée's talents. It's a great blues/soul album with backing by the Kevin Borich Express on most tracks. In fact, all the musicians featured here are "top notch." Blues License may be the least recognised Renee Geyer album, but is her most stylish and consistent album. This is a more bluesy album than most of her normal R&B/soul releases, and there quite a few blues standards on this album, which are brilliantly sung in Renée's easily recognisable voice. Renee has the great "knack" of adopting and adapting tunes to make them her own. Buy her 1975 "Ready To Deal" or her 1986 "Renee Live at the Basement" albums.

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

"The Thrill Is Gone" – 6.55 (Rick Darnell, Roy Hawkins)
"That Did It Babe" – 5.15 (Pearl Woods)
"Set Me Free" – 4.08 (Deadric Malone)
"Bellhop Blues" – 3.23 (Kevin Borich)
"Won't Be Long" – 3.48 (J. Leslie McFarland)
"Stormy Monday" – 6.43 (Aaron "T-Bone" Walker)
"Dust My Blues" – 3.03 (Elmore James)
"Feeling Is Believing" – 7.01 (Willie Henderson, Richard Parker)

MUSICIANS

Renee Geyer - Vocals
Kevin Borich (LA De Das), Tim Piper, Mark Punch - Guitars
Mal Logan - Keyboards
Tim Partridge - Bass guitar
John Annas, Steve Hopes - Drums
Ron King - Harmonica
Kerri Bidell - Background Vocals

BIO (Wikipedia)

Renee Geyer (born September 11, 1953 in Melbourne, Australia) is a singer most often identified with jazz and blues music, who also achieved several hit singles as a mainsteam pop singer. Geyer's singing career began in the early 1970s as a vocalist with the jazz band Dry Red and Sun. The band released one album before Geyer departed in 1972. After working for the next few years with various groups, she released her first solo album It's A Man's Man's World in 1974. The title track, a James Brown cover version became her first hit single. Heading In The Right Direction also reached the top twenty in 1976. During this time, Geyer also participated in the 1975 Election Campaign of the Liberal Party, singing the party's campaign theme Turn On The Lights, the second most known Australian political song behind the 1972 Labor Campaign theme, It's Time. Her album Moving Along released in late 1976 provided her with her biggest hit to date with the single Stares and Whispers, and also attracted considerable attention in the United States when radio stations began playing several of the albums tracks. Geyer's record company RCA Records were aware that her vocal style had led many listeners to incorrectly assume that she was black, and they urged her to keep a low profile until her popularity had grown, even suggesting that the American release of the album should not include her photograph. Known for her uncompromising and direct personal manner, Geyer refused to allow this deception and insisted on marketing the album complete with a cover photograph of what she later referred to as "my big pink face". With the album's release, interest in Geyer subsided in the United States, an event that Geyer would later blame on her headstrong decision in regards to her marketing. She did earn respect within the recording industry and for several years worked in Los Angeles as a session vocalist. In 1980 she signed with Mushroom Records and released the album So Lucky. The album took her away from the blues and jazz she had so closely identified with and added a salsa and reggae style. The single Say I Love You became the biggest hit of her career when it reached number 5 on the Australian singles charts. She continued to record and perform as a solo artist over the next decade. She also performed as a session vocalist most notably on Sting's We'll Be Together. In 1999 she made a comeback with the album Sweet Life, and in 2003 received her first ARIA Award nomination for her album Tenderland.

MORE ABOUT RENEE GEYER

Renée Geyer is Australia's most respected and successful soul singer, with a recording career of nearly 30 years. Her career began around 1971 in Sydney, when a girlfriend took her along to the rehearsal of friends who were forming a band. Geyer was encouraged to get up and have a sing and was instantly invited to join as singer. Although she was so shy in the beginning she couldn't face the audience, musicians noticed her, and Geyer was invited to join one more experienced band after another until 1971, when she became part of an ambitious jazz fusion group called Sun. Geyer was still just 19. After one album (Sun '72), Sun and Geyer parted company; Geyer eventually found herself part of a group called Mother Earth, still with jazz leanings but also incorporating the soul and R&B Geyer loved and excelled at. With Mother Earth, she started touring and was offered a solo recording contract. She insisted that Mother Earth provide the backings on her first album. For her second album, the cream of Melbourne musicians were assembled for the sessions. Geyer formed such a strong bond with these musicians, but by the time the It's a Man's World album was released and her powerfully provocative version of the James Brown title song was a big hit, Geyer was ready to throw her lot in with those musicians rather than be a solo performer. Her two solo albums so far had been cover versions or sourced songs, apart from the single "Heading in the Right Direction." The Renée Geyer Band wrote the songs for 1975's Ready to Deal album in the studio and toured extensively. A live album, Really.. Really Love You, followed, based on Geyer's building reputation as a powerfully voiced, raunchy performer. That reputation found its way to America and led to an invitation to record an album in Los Angeles with famed Motown producer Frank Wilson. While the Movin' Along album provided another hit at home, in America Stares and Whispers created confusion. R&B stations loved the record, but didn't know what to do when they discovered Geyer was a white Jewish girl from Australia. For the next few years, Geyer bounced between Australia and America, working in Australia and recording two more albums in America. When 1981's So Lucky album presented her with a huge hit with "Say I Love You" both in Australia and New Zealand, it became necessary to put the American dream aside for two years. In 1983, Geyer returned to base herself in America permanently, still keeping in touch with her Australasian fans with tours. While in America, Geyer became part of a group called Easy Pieces with former members of the Average White Band. But the album took so long to record, by the time it was finished, the group had never performed and were going their separate ways. Geyer spent several years in America doing session work for Sting (the fade vocal on "We'll Be Together"), Neil Diamond, Jackson Browne, and others, touring with Joe Cocker and Chaka Khan and others, and writing songs. During one foray back to Australia, Geyer was invited to sing the Paul Kelly song "Foggy Highway" for the soundtrack of a TV series based on the seven deadly sins. Kelly was so impressed by Geyer's version, he offered to produce an album and wrote some of the songs, including the title track, which (alongside "It's a Man's Man's World" has become Geyer's signature song, Difficult Woman). The working relationship with Paul Kelly was such a happy and satisfying one, Geyer decided to base herself back in Australia. With Paul Kelly and Joe Camilleri (Jo Jo Zep, Black Sorrows) producing, she recorded 1999's Sweet Life album. At the end of 1999, Geyer released her frank life story, Confessions of a Difficult Woman through Harper Collins. © Ed Nimmervoll, All Music Guide