1972 Case File #88.

Genya Ravan, Genya Ravan

File Between: Janis Joplin and Maggie Bell

Comments: I’ve known who Genya Ravan was for years — in fact, I first learned of her, and of this album, when I first began looking up obscure 1972 records, and the Allmusic review by Joe Viglione put it at the top of my wishlist. But I didn’t find it, and didn’t find it, and in the meantime I listened to her 60s girl-group work in Goldie & the Gingerbreads (as Goldie Zelkowitz), and her late 70s tuff rock records ( think a more urban Chrissy Hynde, or a bluesier Joan Jett). Both of which were better than this record, as it turns out. Not that this is a terrible record; it’s just too much in the shadow of Janis Joplin, and Ravan’s bluesy howl is neither as subtle nor as variable as Janis’s. She has (here, at least) two settings: croon and shriek, and she spends far too much of the time shrieking, making sure you know she’s really feeling it, man, without giving too much thought into what she might be feeling or if there’s a better way to express it than screaming. The backing band, credited as Baby, is a nice crisp rock band, and probably the best comparison (besides Pearl) is to Stone the Crows. There are some stylistic exercises which vary the mood a little: a jazzy saunter through “Moody’s Mood for Love” (complete with James Moody on sax), a version of “Turn on Your Love Light” which merges it with an African chant, and a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on the Wire” that starts out as a hymn and ends as yet another meaningless shriek.

A Keeper? It’s still interesting enough to be worth hearing, though I’d probably only keep a couple songs if editing down my mp3 collection was something I did.

Vinyl Rip: Sit Yourself Down

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