REBEL GIRLS, YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS, AMY WINEHOUSE, TORI AMOS + GRAMMYS, THE F-LIST & BLACK FRIDAY
First new reissue of the week to hit my ears on Friday morning was Goodnight Songs For Rebel Girls, a partnership between the incredibly successful 'Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls' book series and Decca Records. It's a multi-artist compilation described as "Songs For Rebel Girls, By Rebel Girls". I'm not sure that I'm a rebel girl, I'm probably one of the most obedient and compliant people I know, but I trust that doesn't prohibit me listening to it - and I really loved it. Stand-out tracks for me are Aurora's cover of Alanis Morissette's 'Thank U' and Anoushka Shankar's cover of Bjork's 'Joga', and it's a testament to the strength of the songwriting and the performances that two versions of the Linda Perry song 'Beautiful' (one by Macy Gray, the other by K-Pop's Jeon Somin) don't feel too much. Similarly, having two Pretenders' songs ('Hymn To Her' by KT Tunstall and 'Brass In Pocket' by Ani DiFranco) feels absolutely appropriate here. It's got Joan Jett and Beth Orton and Anastacia and a spoken word piece by Imelda May, and lots more. My own 7-year old Rebel Girl is eagerly awaiting delivery of the signed lucky dip version...
Young Marble Giants were a new discovery to me this week. The mention of them had a favourable reaction from a couple of separate people whose opinions I respect, and the 40th anniversary reissue of their one and only album Colossal Youth (via Domino) didn't disappoint. It's a sparse and minimalist sounding album, and refreshingly so. The 15 short songs on the original album are teamed with 14 additional bonus tracks from EPs and demo collections, plus a DVD of their last ever US concert in 1980. I'm not sure I can even adequately describe it: 'Kraftwerk meets Joy Division with a Welsh woman on vocals' is my best, but very lame, attempt. Alison Statton's vocals are so wonderfully low-key and cool (in all senses). I happened upon the album late in the week, and so decided to check it out digitally, but I liked it so much that the vinyl has been ordered (photos to follow on Instagram).
Last week I gushed about the gorgeous Amy Winehouse 7" singles box set. And hot on the heels of that is a lovely 5CD box set of Amy's albums, and more, out this week - entitled The Collection. I smiled to myself when I spotted the 'Parental Advisory - Explicit Content' logo on the front of the box. My listening to last week's singles was overheard by a 9-year old who smirked excitedly as he told his sister about the song '"Something" Me Pumps'. 'Something Me Pumps', as it is now known in our household, appears in numerous guises in this box set - the original version on her debut album Frank, a live performance from 2007 and remixes by both MJ Cole and Mylo. I listened to these in my home office with the door closed this weekend, by way of heeding the warning... So, what do you need to know about this box? As well as Frank, Back To Black and Lioness: Hidden Treasures, it's got a live disc recorded at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London in 2007 which is not available digitally - packed full of the hits, and performed by an Amy that sounds so on form. The fifth CD is a collection of remixes - these are available digitally as b-sides to singles, but the curation of the 75 minute collection on this disc is super and I would highly recommend it for all your chilled-out Sunday vibe needs. This box retails at about £16 or so, and it's worth it for the two extra discs alone.
The project management of both of the Amy Winehouse box sets was overseen by Carolyn Agger, who is one of the best project managers working in catalogue A&R right now - and I was delighted to see that she has been recognised with a Grammy nomination this week (for her work on OMD's Souvenir box set). The Grammy nominations have been a really good news story for women this year (about time!). 47% of nominations across the board this year were women, which is a very significant increase - and the entire Best Rock Performance and Best Country Album categories were nominations for female artists or female fronted bands.
Also in industry news this week was the launch of The F-List, a new not-for-profit group which at its heart is a directory of UK's female musicians - set up by Vick Bain, following the shockingly poor number of women and female-fronted bands being included on the bills for festivals and multi-artists line-ups (pre-Covid) and the response from festival bookers being that there were not enough women to choose from. Some of the instragram posts from the F-List's ambassadors (as well as President Anoushka Shankar) had a striking graphic which highlighted the (im)balance of women and men in the recorded music world too...
It was Black Friday this week, which means lots of exclusive releases for the indie record stores, usually on vinyl. I was going to do a little count of the female-to-male ratio of the list of releases as an indication of the imbalance between the genders, but I don't think the results would come as as a surprise to readers, particularly in light of the image above (the list is here if you'd like to have a look for yourself). With the lockdown situation in the UK, most of the action happened online from 6pm on Friday, and I was poised at my laptop with several browsers open, each on the page for Alanis Morissette's Live At London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire. Delighted to have snaffled one from the reliable Resident in Brighton. I live nowhere near Brighton, but I visited Resident on a lovely weekend away there a few Christmases ago and have had a soft spot for it ever since. Resident are now sold out of this, but there are some copies in stock in Banquet (also a most excellent indie store, but I've never been to Kingston on my holidays!). Fingers crossed it arrives before the weekend, and I'll give you my thoughts on it next week.
I mentioned Tori Amos last week, and I'm planning to mention her again next week when her Christmastide EP comes out (assuming my signed copy arrives on time), so I wondered whether mentioning her this week was overkill. But I'm feeling the overkill and doing it anyway. Tori released a new track digitally this week, in advance of next week's EP - it's called 'Better Angels', and it's great, and I have included it in the latest update of the Reissues By Women Spotify playlist.
Speaking of Spotify playlists, the Reissues By Women Christmas Playlist is coming along very nicely and will be with you all very soon...
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