I know that an individual artist has occasionally got a thread to herself or himself on this forum, but I'm surprised that a more encompassing thread, as envisaged with this one, hasn't appeared before now, so here goes.
Who are some of your favourite female singers? Agnetha and Frida, naturally; but of course they have been, and will be, discussed in the ABBA sections of the forum. But who else do you like? I''m thinking more of singers in the broad spectrum of pop/popular music, of any era, but I'll leave it up to you as to whether you want to go further afield as well.
What a beautiful voice Karen Carpenter had. I find this song, and the character of the melody, so poignantly apt for her life that ended too soon. Yet despite how sad it makes me feel, I still want to listen to it.
I've always admired the "big" voices such as Celine Dion or Whitney Houston or maybe Ann Wilson, even though the latter is not in the same league. I know there is a strong opposition against this kind of singing among the members of this forum but I just cannot agree that Whitney should have left the original version of I Will Always Love You alone. Her cover is the best thing that could have happened to this song in my opinion…
On the other hand I love many of the more subtle voices such as Olivia Newton-John or, indeed, Karen Carpenter.
And then there are those who can combine both and not surprisingly I have to mention Marie Fredriksson here again. I guess all of you know the famous Roxette power ballads, no need to highlight them. However, I would take the opportunity to draw attention to two of her lesser known performances, which, however, belong to her very best I think.
The first is one of the most tender singing she ever did - the cover of Evert Taube's Så Skimrande Var Aldrig Havet:
The second is again a cover, this time Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved A Man:
Then there is a great number of Czech female artists I would name in this thread but I guess there would not be much interest...
Oh, and I should not forget Sissel Kyrkjebö - one of the most beautiful voices ever.
By the way, I've noticed that Helen Sjöholm is not much popular here either, but I think she's one of the best Swedish singers. It's not necessary to introduce her work with Benny, I guess but have somebody noticed she recorded a whole album of Billy Joel covers? Her rendition of She's Always A Woman is a pure heaven to listen to:
I have SO many! Where to begin? I guess my all-time favourite singer would have to be Agnetha. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. The purity of her voice. So utterly feminine and beguiling. Even her speaking voice has the sweetest sound. Truly beautiful. To my ears, anyhow. I could say the same of Frida. These two are my joint top.
Then there's Kate Bush. Oh, I have no words. I fell in love with her and her voice from the beginning. 'A Coral Room'. Oh.My.God. It kills me. I could wax lyrical all night.
A few more:
Karen Carpenter. Eva Cassidy. Judie Tzuke. Grace Jones. Stevie Nicks. Björk. Sinead O'Connor. Harriet Wheeler. Julianne Regan (All About Eve). Sarah Cracknell. Annie Lennox
Last Edit: Mar 8, 2020 21:09:01 GMT by josef: Typos
I really liked the two featuring Helen Sjöholm. I actually chose the Billy Joel original of She's Always A Woman in the 'Favourite Tracks' thread, and her version is great. And I found her duet with Anna Stadling of Bridge Over Troubled Water very enjoyable, too.
Just a sidenote, brought to my mind by that duet and by Josef's comments about Agnetha and Frida's voices: How wonderful it would have been had Frida and Agnetha, sometime after ABBA, decided to do an album together. Sadly, for whatever reasons, (the main one, perhaps, being fear of "ABBA Reforming" pressure), that didn't happen. But because they and their singing are the biggest reasons why I love ABBA, such an album from the two of them would have attracted me at least as much as any new album from ABBA.
The whole album of Helen's covers of Billy Joel songs is great. I've picked up this one because the original belongs to my favourites too.
As for the Agnetha-Frida album, I think I've read somewhere that they really considered such a project but ultimately never realised it for the very reason you mentioned - too much ABBA-related pressure and anticipation. It is a great pity it never happened. I can imagine a collection of carefully selected cover versions and maybe a track or two especially written for them. They could have included some of the duets from Björn and Benny's musicals. I Know Him So Well is quite obvious but I would love to hear them on Ett Herrans Underverk too.
Beautiful Randy Newman song, one of my favourites. It has been covered many times, including, respectively, by Neil Diamond, Nina Simone, UB40, and Norah Jones. But, for me, Dusty Springfield did the best version. Love the arrangement with the piano and orchestra, too.
Often overlooked, but in my opinion never equalled (not even by Karen Carpenter or Agnetha): Marilyn McCoo of The 5th Dimension. She (and they) deserve their own thread, but as an example check out this performance of Bacharach's One Less Bell To Answer. The backing track is recorded but, believe it or not, the lead vocal is live. No autotune or fiddly earpiece required.
Love that Bacharach song, and totally agree about the quality of Marilyn McCoo's singing. I also think Burt Bacharach should get a thread or, if not that ,one devoted to the great popular songwriters. (By the way, in their different ways, I regard Frida and Agnetha as equally good. )
...in their different ways, I regard Frida and Agnetha as equally good. )
Ah yes, me too. Frida and Karen were quite close in terms of range and tone, so I chose Agnetha as a contrast in order to claim that Marilyn covered all the bases. I could imagine Frida or Karen singing One Less Bell or If I Could Reach You, whereas Wedding Bell Blues would surely have been an Agnetha lead. There was another great female vocalist in The 5th Dimension, Florence LaRue, so we can even choose a Frida and Agnetha shared lead from their catalogue of hits. Maybe Stoned Soul Picnic, one of my favourite ever pop songs.
Fortunately we have ample YouTube evidence of Marilyn's versatility, because after she left The 5th Dimension she presented Solid Gold on US TV for a few years. The show's format involved her singing a current chart hit. As a result we have a whole library of videos of Marilyn turning her hand at short notice to any number of vocal styles and almost invariably outperforming the original artist. Check out her For Your Eyes Only as an example ;-)
Again, so agree with you about Marilyn McCoo. I actually bought The Fifth Dimension greatest hits album a few years ago on the strength of hearing 'One Less Bell To Answer' on YouTube, so taken was I with the song and her singing of it - and the overall group arrangement.
Interesting that you mention two of Fifth Dimension's biggest US hits that were written by Laura Nyro (pronounced 'Nero' as for the emperor, for those unfamiliar): 'Wedding Bell Blues' and 'Stoned Soul Picnic'. Laura Nyro has always struck me as being the late 60s/early 70s precursor of Joni Mitchell (one of Gary's choices), and Kate Bush. She wasn't as successful in her own right, although admired by fellow musicians. But so refreshingly different and versatile in embracing diverse styles (pop/gospel/soul/jazz/blues) compared with some of today's rather predictable and monochromatic artists, I feel.
...two of Fifth Dimension's biggest US hits that were written by Laura Nyro (pronounced 'Nero' as for the emperor, for those unfamiliar): 'Wedding Bell Blues' and 'Stoned Soul Picnic'. Laura Nyro has always struck me as being the late 60s/early 70s precursor of Joni Mitchell (one of Gary's choices), and Kate Bush...
Are you me in disguise? I'm a great admirer of Laura Nyro and (re)discovered The 5th Dimension through her, rather than the other way round. I've previously posted in praise of Laura on the last page of the Name That ABBA Song thread, including the inevitable Kate Bush reference.
Laura could have composed perfect production line pop hits forever, but she was driven to push the boundaries of the genre. For me, the song that best captures her increasingly marginalised genius is Captain St. Lucifer. It doesn't really sound like a pop song at all until the chorus finally approaches. The hook is stuffed full of syllables, soaring almost an octave and a half in the blink of an eye, melodic yet at the same time almost impossible to commit to memory. Not even The 5th Dimension could have made it mainstream.
Your remarks about Laura Nyro remind me of why I'm less of a 'fan' than I used to be of this or that group or artist, including ABBA. As I've got older, I've come to recognise that there are so many who are just as talented and deserving of appreciation, and as enjoyable to listen to. So glad I can now admire such great female singers as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, to name just two from a previous era. And I'm sure the experience I've just described is quite a common one.
Oh, this thread has not had any contributions for almost a year... So let's continue. I have already mentioned Olivia Newton-John but today I decided to mention a specific song, which I actually discovered just recently and it's been growing on me since then:
The original by Dolly Parton is great too, but Olivia made it even more special in my opinion.
I've always loved her music but recently got back into her work. It's a while back now but The Gate is worth checking out (the video is captivating). And Black Lake has to be experienced! It's based on her split from her partner and is VISCERAL! Truly remarkable...lyrics...music...and as for the video...when she starts to beat on her chest. OMG. True heartbreak. She's a genius, I'm convinced. Apparently, she was devastated when her relationship ended and the whole album is about that. She pulls no punches. It's all very well people being stoic and moving on and all that but the fact is breaking up IS often very painful and people ARE heartbroken and I think this is why I take exception to anyone slating The Winner Takes It All (and Agnetha's vocal performance of it). It's a completely valid description and portrayal of heartbreak. Of course, Björk's Black Lake is somewhat more cerebral. I realise she isn't to everyone's taste but to me she's not given her due and really is incredibly talented. I don't have enough superlatives for her.
Michal, are you aware they’re releasing a deluxe version of Olivia’s Physical album on 22 October to mark its 40th anniversary? Two CDs and a DVD. CDs include Tied Up and Heart Attack plus the four Two of a Kind songs, along with various different versions. The DVD has both the Physical video album and the live Utah concert from 1982.
Also, a live version of Jolene is included in the CD as it was a b-side to one of the singles. It’s also included on the DVD as part of the concert.
Michal, are you aware they’re releasing a deluxe version of Olivia’s Physical album on 22 October to mark its 40th anniversary?
Alan, thank you for the information, I didn't know. Physical is not exactly my favourite (I prefer her earlier stuff) but still worth buying, especially if the concert material has been remastered. Olivia's album are so hard to find. Her back catalogue would deserve a re-release in some kind of box set with bonus material.
I've ordered the Physical deluxe edition. Really looking forward to it. Cherry Red also did a great job with Sheena Easton recently. They produced a "Definitive Singles 1980-1987" 3-CD set that includes 12" mixes, dub mixes, unreleased single versions, unreleased tracks. Her EMI back catalogue is to be remastered too. These projects are overseen/produced by Vinny Vero, who remixed tracks for Frida in the 90s - Ogonen, Alla Mina Basta Ar and Dancing Queen (with The Real Group).
I had forgotten how good some of her singles were. Listening to her again now after a long time, I notice how technically adept and versatile she is. She might have had a tendency to occasionally "yelp" a little, but the gal truly has pipes! This Prince written and produced single from 1988 is a tour de force.
Michal, here is the official announcement from February this year:
I am incredibly honored and excited to announce my latest, multi-faceted, music industry endeavor. It pairs me with an internationally renowned singer/songwriter noted for her heavenly voice and a career that spans seven decades.
To her credit, she has a mind blowing total of 27 top 40 hits in the US, 19 in the UK, and 26 in her native Australia. She has released 22 studio albums of which a staggering 16 of them have been certified gold or achieved multi-platinum status in the US. In her film roles, you might know her as Sandy, Kira, Debbie, Bitsy Mae or Barbara. She's starred in eight of her own worldwide, blockbuster television specials, been on 17 successful concert tours and celebrated a three-year Las Vegas residency. This powerhouse talent even found time to host "Saturday Night Live", compete in the Eurovision Song Contest, and appear in TV shows including "Murphy Brown", "Glee", "American Idol", "Dancing With The Stars", and "RuPaul's Drag Race".
So, to all the Greasers and Pink Ladies, muses and rollerskaters, ask yourself two questions - "Have you never been mellow?", "Do you want to get physical?". You know the answer is a resounding "Yes!"
I am thrilled to be working with Olivia Newton-John and her entire recorded works - both audio and video. There is a lot of material to go through. Many of you know that most of Olivia's albums have never been remastered, expanded or reissued. Much of her material has never been digitized. That means there is an overwhelming amount of work ahead of me. I'm going through every tape, file and document regarding anything Olivia recorded. I have a tremendous amount of projects tentatively planned, but things can change at a moment’s notice. I can confirm the first project I am producing for Olivia is a collection of duets. It will include her latest single, "Window In The Wall", featuring her daughter Chloe Lattanzi.
All of this is a tremendous undertaking. Those of you familiar with my work know I am going to present Olivia's music in the most detailed and beautifully produced way possible. And Olivia will be overseeing everything I put together. I will do my best to "bring all your dreams alive for you”.
Vinny Vero - Writer, Producer, Curator and Archivist, February 2021