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24.1.11

Genya Ravan


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Genya Ravan - And I Mean It! - 1979 - 20th Century Records

...And I Mean It is an amalgam of girl group, new wave, blues, pop, and folk-rock by Genya Ravan. To hear her exquisite voice on "Night Owl" soaring above her own backing vocals is intense, imagine Etta James backed by the Sex Pistols doing a rock version of "Earth Angel." Of all Ravan's work, ...And I Mean It is possibly the most concise and picture-perfect statement of what the woman is musically about. A girl group pioneer who worked with Richard Perry prior to his finding the Pointer Sisters groove, there is no doubt Ravan influenced that major producer, and his work did the same for her. "Pedal to the Medal" is high-end treble rock before it came into vogue. This is the other side of Siren, the album Genya produced for Ronnie Spector, with more emphasis on a good-time rocking party. "I'm Wired, Wired, Wired" is a rock & roll anthem for people who burn the candle at both ends, while "I Won't Sleep on the Wet Spot" embodies the unbridled sexuality of this album. The music crunches while Ravan uses her voice, her production skills, and her legacy to create something far removed from her days in Ten Wheel Drive. The horns are replaced by searing guitars and Charlie Giordano's magical piano work. The sound of the keyboard and its erratic splashes really are key to "I Won't Sleep on the Wet Spot," while the guitar and bass battle it out. "Steve...," on the other hand, is Goldie & the Gingerbreads ten years after. This Ravan/Conrad Taylor composition was the 45 from the album, and it has "hit" written all over it. 20th Century just didn't have the right mechanisms in place to get some of the great music they put out on radio, such a pity as Harriet Schock, Randy Edelman, and the fake soundtrack for All This and World War II (a Beatles tribute album) contained songs that should have been big hits. What did hit off this album, on FM radio as an album track, is the brilliant duet by Ian Hunter and Ravan, the subtle and folky "Junkman." Released on Hunter's excellent Once Bitten Twice Shy CD on Legacy in 2000, the song and the performance are timeless. Ravan once said: "I was asleep with the tv on, and was saying to myself...that's my voice...that's my song...that's me! I woke up to find "Junkman" on TV in a film." The song got placed in a cable movie without the producer's knowledge! "Junkman" was a sound not heard on FM radio prior to its release, much like MTV's "unplugged" versions of songs, but it is more unplugged than most of this material -- take the rocked-out version of Motown that is the cover of Marvin Gaye's "Stubborn Kinda Girl," or the Springsteen-style blast that is "It's Me," a tune Springsteen should cover. ...And I Mean It is the work of a gifted woman making a rock & roll statement on her terms. The world has yet to realize what a truly polished diamond this album is. © Joe Viglione © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/and-i-mean-it-r47617/review

"And I Mean It" is the work of a gifted woman making a rock and roll statement on her terms. The world has yet to realize what a truly polished diamond this album is. It is an amalgam of girl group, new wave, blues, pop and folk/rock by Genya Ravan. To hear her exquisite voice on Night Owl soaring above her own backing vocals is intense, imagine Etta James backed by The Sex Pistols doing a rock version of Earth Angel. Of all Genya Ravan's work, "And I Mean It" is possibly the most concise and picture perfect statement of what the woman is musically about. © http://www.itsaboutmusic.com/genyaravan.html

It's hard to believe that Genya Ravan is now over seventy years of age. She has sang with everyone from Buddy Guy to Ronnie Spector to Dusty Springfield and jazzman Buzzy Linhart. Despite making some great solo albums, albums with Ten Wheel Drive and so many other appearances, she is still an unfamiliar name to far too many people. "And I Mean It" is a terrific Rock'N'Roll album. Joe Droukas' "Junkman" is one of the greatest Rock'N'Roll songs ever written. It may be known by Mott The Hoople fans as Ian Hunter and the late, great Mick Ronson appear on it, but it may be less familiar to other people. Other songs on this album are just as good. The album is VHR by A.O.O.F.C. Try and listen to Genya's "Goldie Zelkowitz" album and search this blog for other Genya Ravan/Ten Wheel Drive related releases

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

A1 Pedal To The Metal - Diamond, Ravan 4:01
A2 I Won't Sleep On The Wet Spot No More - Ravan 4:18
A3 Steve - Ravan, Taylor 3:30
A4 Stubborn Kinda Girl - Gaye, Gordy, Stevenson 3:58
A5 It's Me 3:35

B1 Junkman - Droukas 5:51
B2 Love Isn't Love - Ravan 3:41
B3 I'm Wired Wired Wired - Ravan, Taylor 5:57
B4 Roto Root Her - Ravan, Taylor 3:22
B5 Night Owl - Allen 2:20

MUSICIANS

Genya Ravan - Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Percussion, Background Vocals
Conrad Taylor - Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Rhythm), Lead, Mandolin, Rhythm, Vocals, Background Vocals
Lars Hanson - Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Lead, Mandolin, Rhythm, Background Vocals
Mick Ronson - Guitar on "Junkman"
Mike Lombardi - Bass
Charlie Giordano - Keyboards, Vocals, Background Vocals
Bobby Chen - Drums, Syndrum
Ian Hunter - Vocals on "Junkman"

BIO

Genya Ravan is an important rock & roll personality and influential vocalist and record producer, born Genya Zelkowitz on April 19, 1945, in Lodz, Poland. Her mom later changed her name to Goldie Zelkowitz, Ravan taking her birth name back when she formed the band Ten Wheel Drive. When her parents left Poland, they went into a Russian camp. The singer kindly gave personal details of her youth to AMG on April 4, 2002: "We lost everyone. I never had an aunt or an uncle, I had two brothers, they died. I never met my grandparents, it was me and my sister and my mom and dad. They came from big families and saw all of them die. We escaped to the U.S. via a ship. We were DPs and went straight to Ellis Island." Young Goldie Zelkowitz never knew she could sing until in her late teens "then I picked up alto sax, drums, and harmonica." In the summer of 1962, she asked to sing with the Escorts (not Felix Cavaliere's band from Syracuse University nor the '50s group or U.K. band of the same name) who were performing at the Lollipop Lounge in Brooklyn, NY. She remembers it was the summer because: "I had pants that showed my belly button, they could not get their eyes off it." Soon, she was rehearsing with the band and became the first girlfriend of Richard Perry, bass vocalist in the group and the man who would go on to produce Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, Leo Sayer, the Pointer Sisters, and so many others. The band recorded and released a few singles on Coral Records in 1962 and 1963: "Somewhere" b/w "Submarine Race Watching," "I Can't Be Free" b/w "One Hand, One Heart," and "Something Has Changed Him" b/w "Back Home Again." After she left the Escorts, Zelkowitz formed Goldie & the Gingerbreads, an original all-female band that was only the first of many firsts for Zelkowitz. All girls in a man's music world was as daunting a task as a woman trying to become president of the United States. Petula Clark, Lulu, Cilla Black, Skeeter Davis, and Kitty Wells simply did not have a crew of women backing them up. Where the Go-Go's became a bit of a novelty years later, the people who came before that hit '80s band, Goldie & the Gingerbreads, Fanny, and later, Isis, all had a harder edge and would have done more for the cause's credibility had they had the hit singles to go along with their critical acclaim. In the new millennium "women's music" is a huge industry with Dar Williams, Phranc, Ferron, and others making waves around the world, but they all owe a debt to the work of Zelkowitz and her original international pop group. The gals released singles on Decca and Immediate in the U.K., with "Can't You Hear My Heart Beat," produced by Alan Price of the Animals, hitting on the British charts. Their manager was Michael Jeffries who split from producer Mickie Most and kept Goldie & the Gingerbreads and the Animals under his wing (and, of course, Jimi Hendrix later through the Animals' Chas Chandler). Most took Herman's Hermits with him and that band had a hit with "Can't You Hear My Heart Beat" in America. Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun signed Goldie & the Gingerbreads to his Atco imprint and released their singles in the U.S. After the Gingerbreads, Zelkowitz former the electric and brass rock group Ten Wheel Drive and Genya Ravan was born. A drummer named Les Demerle told Ravan she should use her real name instead of Goldie and that she sounded so black she should call herself "raven," as in blackbird, but she wanted it spelled different, thus Ravan. This is the fellow who turned Ravan onto Bill Takas and the Breckers and how she knew enough jazz musicians to put together Ten Wheel Drive. She met Aram Schefrin and Mike Zager through her manager, Billy Fields. "He had a friend in New Jersey that said he had two incredible writers looking for someone to start a band with. Billy Fields was close to Sid Bernstein and they went on to manage all of us," she said. The band recorded three albums for Polydor with the rhythm and horn sections changing constantly. Judy Collins' bassistBill Takas and Buzzy Linhart/Bette Midler drummer Luther "Leon" Rix were members of the original Ten Wheel Drive on their Construction #1 album. Ravan was and is friends with Linhart, and it is interesting how Rix would play with Midler, and Midler would make a grand statement in her film The Rose with Ravan's signature tune from Ten Wheel Drive days, Jerry Ragovoy's "Stay With Me." Midler may have used it as the show-stopper in her motion picture, which was loosely based on the life of Ravan's contemporary, Janis Joplin (the two women played on the same bills at times), but it is the Ten Wheel Drive/Genya Ravan version which is definitive and timeless, the prototype never surpassed when Kiki Dee, John Verity, and even Midler took it on. After leaving Ten Wheel Drive for a solo career, she had philosophical disagreements with Clive Davis at Columbia Records and her self-titled album debut had, like Ten Wheel Drive, too many directions. Not content to be the new Janis Joplin for CBS, the singer instinctively knew her value as an extraordinary vocalist and music pioneer. The album features the band Baby backing Ravan up, and myriad producers, though she felt more comfortable with Zager and Schefrin handling that chore. The 1972 single, not on the album, "Morning Glory," is a fine example of what could have been. It is important to note, though, that this was not Ravan's solo debut -- there was an Island Records 45 rpm released in 1966 under the name Patsy Cole. "This is a whole other story," she said. "I walked in on a session in London to do background with Dusty Springfield. When she left, the session was over. I started to play piano and sing an old song that Baby Washington & the Hearts did and Chris Blackwell loved it, so he said 'Let's roll tape' and he had to give me another name, I was under contract, and that single went on to be a hit in Jamaica and I believe it got to number one. I had Spencer Davis, Georgie Fame horns, and Stevie Winwood playing on that single under the name Patsy Cole." Zager & Schefrin re-formed yet another Ten Wheel Drive and released an album in 1974 on EMI with latter-day Rascals vocalist Annie Sutton performing one Ravan co-write, "Why Am I So Easy to Leave." Meanwhile, Ravan went on to cut more solo records, a brilliant Goldie Zelkowitz with the underrated Gabriel Mekler producing for Janus Records, They Love Me, They Love Me Not with the late Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller and Stones' engineer Joe Zagarino producing, and the incredible body of work kept building, with no noticeable Top 40 chart recognition that songs on the albums warranted. She reunited with Miller in 1986 for the unreleased Buddy Guy tapes that also feature Nils Lofgren, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, singer Jo Jo Laine, and others. During the sessions in Warren, RI, both she and Miller got on-stage to jam with Buddy Guy while he performed an evening show at one of the city's nighclubs. It was absolutely magical. Ravan took things into her own hands and the "significant projects (are) Urban Desire and ...And I Mean It! (both on 20th Century)...because I wrote most of it and I got to produce it. (They were) also the best sellers for me." Indeed, Ravan began producing for other acts, most notably the groundbreaking punk band the Dead Boys for Sire Records, and then Ronnie Spector's Siren album for Ravan's own imprint, Polish Records, with the handle "Who Do I F*** to Get Off This Label?" Outside of women producing themselves, Genya Ravan was the very first woman to produce significant male bands. "Sonic Reducer" by the Dead Boys is an underground classic and was one of the better-sounding discs when Sire Records started heralding the new wave rock movement. Ravan has produced numerous groups, from Joy Rider released on Polydor in Europe to the Crumbsuckers, Certain General, Long John Baldrey, Kool & the Gang, Tiny Tim, and many, many others. Her visibility as a vocalist is at times overshadowed by the huge amount of production and industry work that she took on, from promotion to A&R at various labels. In 2001, she released For Fans Only, a collection of songs recorded over the years available only from her website, www.genyaravan.com. She's painting art, recording music, and at the dawn of the new millennium, was busy writing a book/screenplay about her incredible life in the music industry. From major girl group and blues vocalist to pioneering record producer and having performed with Steve Winwood, Dusty Springfield, Buddy Guy, Kool & the Gang, and so many others as an artist, the music industry would be a different place without the vast contributions of Genya Ravan, contributions that the world has still failed to recognize © Joe Viglione © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/genya-ravan-p20088/biography

THE LEGEND OF GENYA RAVAN

Genya Ravan released an album a year starting in 1969 with Ten Wheel Drive's Construction #1 on Polydor, up to the 1974 release of Goldie Zelkowitz on Janus, but created her most popular recordings on 20th Century Fox in 1978 and 1979 when she released the self-produced ...And I Mean It / Urban Desire one-two punch. Genya Ravan, her first solo disc which Columbia released after she left Ten Wheel Drive, was the catalyst for Ravan producing herself. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the record is that it is the only one she recorded for Columbia, a place that seemed like the perfect home for a woman with so many talents. Clive Davis originally wanted Richard Perry to produce, and it wasn't the fact that he was Ravan's first boyfriend that the idea was nixed, his pop work with Carly Simon was not what this artist is about. Larry Fallon former partner of producer Jimmy Miller and the guy behind "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"for The Looking Glass (he had also put strings on an unreleased version of "Wild Horses" for Jimmy Miller and the Rolling Stones ) was brought in. But "Brandy" was more pop than "You're So Vain" if you think about it. To feel comfortable, Ravan asked for, and got, her original partners in Ten Wheel Drive, Aram Schefrin, and Michael Zager, and with the band Baby behind her, Goldie Zelkowitz made the first album of her career beyond Goldie & the Gingerbreads and Ten Wheel Drive. It is a pure document of her transition. This is the shift between the sounds of Ten Wheel Drive and what would follow on 1973's They Love Me, They Love Me Not and 1974's Goldie Zelkowitz. She takes Rod Stewart and the Faces superb and little recognized "Flying" and makes it her own, a tune she would continue to perform live in concert. Stephen Stills' "Sit Yourself Down" gets a total reworking, just as Gabriel Mekler would revamp Whipping Post with her in 1974, when Ten Wheel Drive was re-forming with Annie Sutton. It is an amazing thread of events, with players from both the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin filtering through her recorded work, and where this album could have been Columbia Records replacing Janis Joplin with Genya Ravan, the singer opted to take her music into a realm where Diane Schuur would feel at home, rock influenced by jazz rather than high-powered blues rock. Indeed, the final track on side one, "Takuta Kalaba," is blended into "Turn on Your Love Lights," a song Janis Joplin did with the Grateful Dead if memory serves on one of the live tapes of theirs that has circulated over the years, so there was this thread, though the result is 180 degrees from where Joplin took it. Genya Ravan did not want to fill the Janis Joplin void for Mr. Davis — she wanted to be herself. Clive told her, "You are either a rock singer or you're a jazz singer, but you cannot do both," and maybe for short-term marketing he had a point, but for longevity and vision, the Larry Fallon-produced "I'm in the Mood For Love" is exquisite. Fallon had come from a jazz band with Jimmy Miller, who coincidentally produced Genya Ravan's next album for his production company, released on ABC Dunhill. James Moody's saxophone solo is thrilling, and a real touch of class. The cabaret atmosphere seguing into the African drum sound of Michael Olatunji and his "Takuta Kalaba," which was released as a single in Europe. Brilliant material which would certainly stifle the Janis Joplin comparisons. The soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" was tracked long before Cohen was considered chic. Columbia released "What Kind of Man Are You" from this album on a 45 rpm with the non-LP A side of "Morning Glory," written by Michael Holmes, and produced by he and Dixon Van Winkle, making for five producers during these sessions! The single was the idea of Clive Davis, and it is beautiful, the style of music that Bette Midler was having success with at this point in time. Midler eventually covered Genya Ravan's "Stay With Me" for The Rose film and soundtrack, bringing things full circle. Genya Ravan is an album brimming with this creative woman's personality, talent, and amazing vocal prowess. "Morning Glory" should eventually find itself on a Sony/Legacy re-release of Genya Ravan, important music that is continuously contemporary because of the long-range vision of the artist. © http://www.itsaboutmusic.com/genyaravan.html

THE LEGEND OF TEN WHEEL DRIVE

Ten Wheel Drive was a highly influential rock/jazz group not afraid to push the envelope while exploring various musical styles. Though musicians came and went, including the original lead vocalist, by the time the fourth album was released, the records have stood the test of time, influencing the successful Bette Midler breakthrough film The Rose, inspiring women with the drive and ambition to front their own group in a once male-dominated industry, getting sold on auction sites like Ebay to be discovered by new generations of music lovers. The original lead vocalist and founding member, Genya Ravan, spoke with AMG concerning how she formed the band: "I went to see Billy Fields, he was going to manage me. He had a friend in New Jersey that befriended two guys that were writers and they were looking for someone to sing their songs. Billy asked me if I wanted to hear them, I said 'OK' since I was always looking for material, so I met with Mike Zager and Aram Schefrin at a dinky little piano studio in Times Square. They played "Polar Bear Rug" and "I Am a Want Ad" and got me interested even though I thought they sounded more like show tunes, I was also an actress, so I liked it. At this time, I had an R&B band and they came to hear me in some sleazy bar and they liked what they heard and saw. They did not have a band nor musicians in mind, I knew some good jazz players, so (we) got the musicians and started to audition and rehearse." When asked how the idea took shape, Ravan replied: "When I heard Blood, Sweat & Tears — (the) first record with Al Kooper ( Child Is Father to the Man), my fave. I said, oh I want a horn band. It was 1969, we started to rehearse at the Bitter End, Sid Bernstein joined in the management with Billy Fields. It was a very exciting time, we played the Atlanta Pop Fest. Every great band that lived played that gig, that gig is what broke our band (and) we were an instant success." On the material, Ravan said she "seldom wrote with Ten Wheel Drive...Aram was a brilliant lyricist, Mike and Aram were easy to work with, so I wrote some, it made me feel good, because the ones I wrote turned out to be the most soulful, like "Pulse," "Tightrope." I came into my writing more during the Urban Desire and ...and I Mean It! recordings." Those were the albums that came out on 20th Century Records at the end of the '80s, apart from Ten Wheel Drive. The group signed with Polydor when Sid Bernstein brought Jerry Schoenbaum to the band's rehearsal and to one of their gigs at the Bitter End. The vocalist noted: "Jerry flipped. Signed us immediately." There were artistic consequences to having phenoms like bassist Bill Takas and drummer Leon Rix moving on to LaBelle and Buzzy Linhart, Rix recording with Bette Midler as well. Over the span of four albums, guitarist Aram Schefrin and keyboard player Mike Zager (no relation to Zager & Evans of "In the Year 2525" fame, though because of the point in time, there was some confusion in rock circles) worked with more than a dozen and a half different players. When Ravan was asked about this, she replied: "It turned out to be good for us, fresh blood, it was creative, I love changes like that. I did not like the canning of musicians, but I was the one that had to do it. New blood is always exciting, You know how laid-back jazzers can be, they get excited for the first five minutes." The band played Carnegie Hall on Ravan's birthday and she cites the Central Park gig for WNEW when the Nightbird disc jockey Allison Steele hosted it, as well as the Atlanta Pop Festival as just two of the highlights of their brief but important career. Steele would later co-write the liner notes to Bill Levenson's 1995 16-track compilation on Polygram, The Best of Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan. With all the excitement the band generated live, there was, unfortunately, no full concert performance on video or record. "One of the last gigs we did was a show at Carnegie Hall with a symphony," Ravan said. "Mike and Aram were geniuses. This was their forte — they wrote this rock opera of "Little Big Horn" and it was brilliant, Polydor did not want to record it, I swear 'til this day, had it been recorded, Ten Wheel Drive would have gone down in history, it was one of the reasons I was disillusioned into leaving the label, it made me want to quit the business." There were no unreleased gems recorded and left in the vaults, Ravan stating that everything happened all too fast. And then she left the group she founded: "Things started to get complicated. The music was not the main thing anymore, it was too expensive to have that many people involved. We had accountants, lawyers, roadies, and of course the group, we could not tour Europe because it was to expensive to get there and stay there. I just felt like there would be no future for me with the band anymore, also some personal stuff went down, that made it awkward. It just felt like it had hit the end for me." Ravan recorded a solo album in 1972 for Columbia Records with Schefrin and Zager co-producing. They enlisted the Rascals vocalist Annie Sutton to sing on the self-titled 1974 Capitol release that featured Hall & Oates on backing vocals, but it wasn't the same. The band created essential music and has a revered place in rock history. Schefrin practices law in Rhode Island, having produced other records after the final breakup of Ten Wheel Drive; Zager does soundtrack work; and Ravan continues to record. © http://www.itsaboutmusic.com/genyaravan.html

5 comments:

A.O.O.F.C said...

LINK

p/w aoofc

Johnny Pierre said...

Great Post on Genya Ravan...I enjoyed the historical backround. Thanks again!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks, Johnny. I loved your "Mardi Gras is over" song. Bit of Tom Waites, Dr.John and David Byrne...but still original. Great stuff! Keep in touch

Stathis said...

Hello,

can you please repost also this LP?

Thank you very much
Efstathiou Stathis

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Stathis. I haven't got the original album to repost. Perhaps somebody reading this could help with a link. Thanks...Paul