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and i mean it... Genya Ravan

©2002 gt slade

  People ask me, "gt, don't you miss New York?"

"Hell no!" Sure I miss bagels – unobtainable in California. And Genya Ravan. But her music has wheels, and is as moving here as in earlier time zones.

As usual, expect the unexpected from this release. Recorded from 1978 to 2001, For Fans Only has something for everyone, not just aficionados or people who can spell "aficionados." It is reminiscent of Sara Hickman's Misfits in conception, except none of these songs could be termed curiosities.

I listened to it under varied conditions, figuring no one buys music to play it once. Projecting musical staying power can be a chore, where repeated listenings reveal flaws. With For Fans, my appreciation grew; it was fun to review.


Sure, it's raw, but that's good. Even the sound quality is not bad, considering it is mostly from the 1970s and contains some anomalies that exist with analog recordings. TIP: Crank up the volume for flawless sound.

The album kicks off with pre-rock standard "Fly Me To The Moon," accompanied by piano and sax. I own two recordings of this song: local heroine Paula West imparts a more traditional treatment and the less said about Lorrie Morgan's the better. Genya gives the material a distinctive flavour. Some folks don't like variation. Take "Angel of the Morning" by Chip Taylor, one of my all-time favourite songs ever. Country babe Merrillee Rush was fantastic. A few years later, an all-out soul rendition by Thelma Jones, recognisable from the lyrics, blew me away. Then there's Chryssie Hynde's terrific Pretend version. Great music can always be rearranged, if it's done well, as is the case with Genya's "Fly Me To The Moon."

A couple of tunes are Genya Ravan compositions. "202 Rivington Street" is autobiographical and tasty, recorded live at the Bottom Line. It's spontaneous. The other is called "Night Flight" and I love it. Beautiful!

The only other composer with two contributions is the aforementioned Chip Taylor. What a coincidence! (And you thought my Angelic meanderings were irrelevant.) "Any Way That You Want Me" is from 1978, while "Take Me For A Little While" was recorded in 2001 without rehearsal. They are gems.

Other highlights are "Easy Evil" and "Something's Got A Hold On Me," the latter with Long John Baldry. Two incredible vocals on one powerful song, backed by Thunder Thighs, legendary as "the coloured girls" on "Walk On The Wild Side."

Lennon-McCartney's "Don't Let Me Down," is one of five covers recorded in 1989. Talk about teasing us... Truth be told, this is one of my least favourite Beatles songs. Even Randy Crawford couldn't resuscitate it. I like it now – at least with Genya.

There's a great Blues song with piano accompaniment only and a nifty tune recorded for Urban Desire, except there was "no room on the record." Hey, there would be room on the CD. What do you say, music industry pinheads?! How about some re-releases?

The musicians who have worked with Genya over the years are outstanding. Many are on this compendium. All of the pianists are great. The trick is virtuoso playing that doesn't detract from the vocals. These guys have it down. I especially like DK on "Fly Me To The Moon." But it's not just the pianists. Everyone from the bassists to the background singers are wonderful.

As I played this disc and became fonder of it, I kept thinking, "Too bad it's so short," figuring it was 35 to 40 minutes. Then I did a time check. At nearly an hour, the time zips by. And these are just "ATTIC TAPES" floating around Genya's house.

For Fans Only [2002, private label, 13; 58:07] is, of course, not available in stores – Come On! They need room for artists like Jennifer Lopez and Destiny's Child. Those listening to this album are in danger of becoming fans. Then again, what do I know? I'm just a music-lover like you. finis  

I happily report that this album need not
be purchased abroad. It is not out of print.
It is available on CD. Score a copy or
two at GenyaRavan.Com.
  Bagels are sold in California,
  some even represented as
  'New York-style.'
  In Brooklyn, they'd be
  represented as   ferkakt
  bagels. – gt – keeping it real



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