Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ILL-USTRATED SONGS #6 : WHIPPING POST (Genya Ravan)


If "Genya Ravan" (hard G, last name pronounced like the bird) is only a vaguely familiar name, then you should be tied to the whipping post, not her.
But so should dozens of A&R men, disc jockeys, label execs and muddled music critics who thought rock blooze began and ended with Janis Joplin.
Always a hard-living and adventurous woman, the former Ms. Zelkowitz posed for vintage skin mags, formed "Goldie and the Gingerbreads" and toured with the Rolling Stones and then fronted (literally, as some raunchy extant pix prove) Ten Wheel Drive.
She then took a series of tumbles with brilliant solo albums that suffered from poor promotion (her debut on Columbia), bastardly production (like the well-titled "They Love Me, They Love Me Not") or drugged-up non-logic (an album titled "Goldie Zelkowitz" with no reference that this was actually Genya Ravan).
The agony you'll hear on "Whipping Post" is matched again and again throughout Genya's catalog, especially "I Hate Myself" and a passionate "Bird on a Wire" from her Columbia solo debut. Her latter efforts include the fiendishly sardonic "Aye Colorado" duet with Lou Reed and the loudly lusty "Won't Sleep On the Wet Spot" which highlight her two lps for 20th Century Fox, now on mp3 via links at genyaravan.com.
I saw Genya live, a year or two ago, and she's still a formidable presence. Off stage she's the sweet Jewish mama her real name implies. After all, she grew up on the Lower East Side's Rivington Street (yes, the "Birds the Word" Rivingtons borrowed the street cred) and she grew up amid a melting pot of ethnicities. I remember her having two cool kitties in the apartment uptown, and that everybody always wished her career would get the heat it deserved.
Her autobiography, "Lollipop Lounge" tells the hard luck stories of what happened along the way, and it's as horrific as any in the rock world, whether real ("Buried Alive") or not ("The Rose"). I once told Genya, "you're a survivor," and that pissed her off, because she's been more than that...she's been a mover, a shaker, and she's beaten all the odds from addiction to cancer, and she's always devised ways of keeping it real in the music business, whether issuing solo albums, producing albums for Ronnie Spector or The Dead Boys, or hanging out at CBGB's.
Take this track ripped from vinyl (which for some reason sounds better than the one I bought at eMusic) and consider it an invitation to check her site and find more, more, more. Each stanza of this song brings Genya closer to the raw meat and the bare bones. Or to borrow, out of context, a Phil Ochs line: "The whipping was rotten with ecstasy." Good Lord...Good Lord...Lord...I feel like I'm DYIN'!!!

WHIPPING POST Instant download or listen on line. No code words, porn ads or pop-up ads.

Note: If files on the blog aren't working, leave a comment. Some can be replaced, as usually they stop working only because the cloud server changed some configuration or other, or switched from an http to https without bothering to TELL ME to UPDATE my link.

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