Friday, 7 May 2021

Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife is a Japanese garage rock band formed in Osaka, in 1981. Heavily influenced by 1960s girl groups, pop bands, The Beach Boys, and early punk rock bands, such as the Ramones, the trio crafts stripped-down songs with simple yet unconventional lyrics sung both in Japanese and English. They have also performed as a Ramones tribute band under the name The Osaka Ramones. 





Shonen Knife was formed in December 1981 in Osaka, Japan with sisters Naoko Yamano and Atsuko Yamano and their friend Michie Nakatani. Naoko sang lead and played guitar, Nakatani was also a lead singer and played bass and keyboards, and Atsuko sang backing vocals and played drums. The group was something of an anomaly when they started, as they were founded at a time when all-female bands were scarce. Eschewing the then-rising, early J-pop movement, Shonen Knife was influenced by 1970s punk rock and new wave bands such as The Ramones and Buzzcocks. Following their first Tokyo gig at Hosei University, Shonen Knife released their debut album Burning Farm on Zero Records on July 21, 1983.[1] They then contributed to the Zero Record compilation album AURA MUSIC which was released on November 15 and included three of their songs: "Watchin' Girl", "Banana Fish", and "Parrot Polynesia". Their second album, Yama-no Attchan, was released by Zero on May 25, 1984. Named after drummer Atsuko, the album saw the band growing as musicians. The album was also influenced by a broader selection of musical acts, ranging from Motown to heavy metal. At the end of the year, Shonen Knife contributed "Parrot Polynesia" and "Elephant Pao Pao" to another compilation, Huddle No Trouble, for Balcony Records. Around this time, Burning Farm was first played on UK radio by English disc jockey John Peel, although Peel did not find out the name of the band until a few years later, in 1987.


By June 1985, the Burning Farm cassette had made its way from its Kyoto imprint to K Records of Olympia, Washington, who decided to release the cassette in the United States. A year later, on June 20, 1986, Shonen Knife released their third album Pretty Little Baka Guy. Four months later, the album was re-released with three additional live tracks. While their records had previously been available in the US solely through import, in 1986, Shonen Knife's track, "One Day of the Factory", appeared on a Sub Pop 100 compilation. The album was released on November 1, 1986 by the independent record label Sub Pop. Soon after, Shonen Knife began receiving lucrative offers from a range of US labels. By this time, many alternative rock groups had begun citing Shonen Knife as a favorite of theirs, and the resulting word-of-mouth created significant exposure for the band. On March 26, 1987, the trio's songs were played again on BBC radio by John Peel. After spending some time concentrating on their live performances, they had the opportunity to play with Sonic Youth as guests at the Muse Hall in Shinsaibashi, Osaka.









The trio's international cult following flourished during the early-1990s. After releasing a self-titled compilation album comprising tracks from their first two albums in the US market, the trio began touring America on a somewhat regular basis and released their fourth album 712 on July 1, 1991 in Japan on Nippon Crown. That same July, Sub Pop released "Neon Zebra" as a single in the US. Shortly after, a slightly different version of 712 was released in America by Rockville Records. In August, Shonen Knife was featured on CNN News during its This Week In Japan special. On September 25, Pretty Little Baka Guy was re-released in the US by Tokuma Japan. The 1991 US re-release of the album was coupled with eight live recordings from 1982 and 1990. The trio performed with Fugazi at the Sun Hall in Shinsaibashi, Osaka on November 14. Days later, the Christmas-themed single "Space Christmas" was released to British and American audiences by Seminal Twang and Rockville Records, respectively. It was in 1991 that Shonen Knife came to find one of their biggest fans in the form of Kurt Cobain. Nirvana asked Shonen Knife to serve as the opening act for their UK tour, just prior to the release of their breakthrough album, Nevermind.



After touring through the US and signing onto Capitol Records, the trio released their major-label debut, Let's Knife, on August 26. They then embarked on a brief three-show tour through the UK. While on tour, the trio appeared at the 20th Reading Festival alongside bands such as Nirvana and Mudhoney. They also recorded another John Peel Session and filmed a music video for "Riding On The Rocket" in London. On December 2, the group released the mini-album Do The Knife on MCA Victor before going on another, longer UK tour with BMX Bandits as their opening act.



Michie Nakatani left the band in December 1999, with Atsuko Yamano moving to bass. Mana Nishiura took over on drums, though was not considered to have officially joined the band and continued to play with her other group, DMBQ. On November 4, 2005, whilst on a US tour with DMBQ, Nishiura died in a car crash in New Jersey. Etsuko "Ettchan" Nakanishi, who had been playing drums for Shonen Knife during this period, became her permanent replacement. In 2011, Shonen Knife celebrated their 30th anniversary and released Osaka Ramones - Tribute to The Ramones. The album was recorded between Osaka, Japan and Buffalo, NY and co-produced by Robby Takac of the American rock band The Goo Goo Dolls. The release was followed by a world tour. In June 2012, the band released Pop Tune, followed by a US tour. The band completed a new LP, Overdrive, for worldwide release on April 16, 2014, to be followed by an extensive UK/European tour in April/May/June 2014, followed by a North American tour in September/October 2014. In 2016, the band released their album Adventure.  In June 2019, the band released their latest studio album, Sweet Candy Power. It features ten tracks. In March 2021, the band performed their first on-line streaming concert to a worldwide audience and announced a 40th anniversary UK tour. 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Rita Coolidge

Rita Coolidge (born May 1, 1945) is an American recording artist. During the 1970s and 1980s, her songs were on Billboard magazine's pop, country, adult contemporary, and jazz charts, and she won two Grammy Awards with fellow musician Kris Kristofferson. Her recordings include "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher," "We're All Alone", "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love" and the theme song for the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy: "All Time High". 






After singing around Memphis, Coolidge was discovered by Delaney & Bonnie, who worked with her in Los Angeles. There, she became a background singer for artists including Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Harry Chapin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills. She was featured in Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour and album, singing Russell's and Bonnie Bramlett's song "Superstar." Coolidge did not receive songwriting credits for "Superstar" which later became a hit for The Carpenters. She became known as "The Delta Lady" and inspired Russell to write a song of the same name for her.

Coolidge didn't receive songwriting credits for the piano coda in the 1971 single "Layla" by Eric Clapton's band Derek and the Dominos. In 2016, Coolidge stated that she recorded a demo with the band's drummer Jim Gordon, before they went to England to record with Clapton. Once they met with Clapton, Coolidge played the piece she composed and she gave him a cassette. Clapton, impressed by the piece, used it as part of the song in the coda section. She tried to contact Clapton, but was told by his manager Robert Stigwood, "What are you gonna do? You’re a girl. You don't have money to fight this."








In November 1970, she met Kris Kristofferson at the Los Angeles airport when they were both catching the same flight to Tennessee. The two recorded several duet albums, which sold well and earned the duo a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1974 for "From the Bottle to the Bottom", and in 1976 for "Lover Please."  









Coolidge's greatest success on the pop charts came during 1977–1978 with four consecutive top 25 hits, remakes of Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher", Boz Scaggs' "We're All Alone", the Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do", and Marcia Hines' "You". In 1997, Coolidge was one of the founding members of Walela, a Native American music trio, that also included her sister Priscilla and her daughter Laura Satterfield. The trio released studio albums in 1997 (Walela) and 2000 (Unbearable Love), a live album and DVD (Live in Concert) in 2004 and a compilation album (The Best of Walela) in 2007. Walela means hummingbird in Cherokee. Coolidge considered this group important, not only in honoring her Cherokee ancestors but also in bringing their culture to others.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Anita Lane

Anita Louise Lane (18 March 1960 – April 2021) was an Australian singer-songwriter who was a member of The Birthday Party, The Bad Seeds and collaborated with Nick Cave and Mick Harvey. Lane released two solo albums: Dirty Pearl (1993) and Sex O'Clock (2001). 










Anita Louise Lane was born in Melbourne in 1960. She began singing and writing songs at the age of 16. She was a classmate of Rowland S. Howard, while both were students at the Prahran College of Advanced Education, undertaking the Tertiary Orientation Programme. Lane met Nick Cave in 1977. Cave on lead vocals, was a member of a new wave group, The Boys Next Door, with Mick Harvey on guitar, Phill Calvert on drums and Tracy Pew on bass guitar. By December 1978, Rowland S. Howard had joined the line up on lead guitar. In February 1980, The Boys Next Door were renamed as The Birthday Party, and Lane and the group, moved to London. Lane and Cave co-wrote the lyrics for "A Dead Song", which appeared on their debut album Prayers on Fire (April 1981). For their second album, Junkyard (May 1982), Lane and Cave co-wrote "Dead Joe" and "Kiss Me Black". The group relocated to West Berlin in August 1982 prior to their cessation in June of the following year. Lane on keyboards, backing vocals and occasional lead vocals, was briefly a member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, with Adamson, Cave, Harvey, Blixa Bargeld on guitar (also a member of Einstürzende Neubauten) and Hugo Race (ex-Plays with Marionettes). She supplied lyrics for "From Her to Eternity", the title track of their debut album (June 1984). She left the group soon after.






Lane co-wrote "Stranger Than Kindness" with Bargeld, which appears on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' fourth album Your Funeral... My Trial (November 1986). Lane added her lead vocals over a musical score by Bargeld, Cave and Harvey for the soundtrack of the 1988 Australian film Ghosts... of the Civil Dead, including the track "A Prison in the Desert". She also provided guest vocals on "The Bells Belong to the Ashes" for the album, Headless Body in Topless Bar (1988) by German post-punk post-rock band Die Haut. In 1989, Lane was featured on Adamson's debut solo album Moss Side Story; with Harvey, she was part of the Freedom Choir on "Suck on the Honey of Love" and "Free at Last". She supplied vocals again for his second solo effort, the soundtrack for the film Delusion (1991). In 1992, she performed a duet with Kid Congo Powers on Die Haut's track "Excited" and another with Bargeld on "How Long (Have We Known Each Other Now)" for the German group's album Head On. Lane and Bargeld duetted again on "Blume" for his group, Einstürzende Neubauten's sixth studio album, Tabula Rasa (1993). The track is co-written by Lane, Bargeld and his group members. In 1995, Lane contributed vocals to Harvey's Serge Gainsbourg tribute album Intoxicated Man. She returned in 1997 for his second Gainsbourg-inspired album Pink Elephants. 

Lane had a solo career beginning with her four-track extended play Dirty Sings in 1988 on Mute Records. For the recording, she was joined by Adamson, Cave, Harvey and Thomas Wydler on drums (of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, ex-Die Haut); while Harvey produced the EP. In 1993, Lane issued her debut solo studio album Dirty Pearl, recorded from 1982 to that year. It consists of her work with The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Einstürzende Neubauten and Die Haut, as well as exclusive album tracks. The album was co-produced by Bargeld, Cave, Harvey, Johannes Beck, John Cafferty, Die Haut, Einstürzende Neubaten, Sven Röhrig, and The Birthday Party. The album provided Lane's single "The World's a Girl", which appeared on 5 June 1995. Lane's second solo studio album Sex O' Clock was released on 23 October 2001, produced by Harvey.



  On 28 April 2021, it was announced that Lane had died at age 61.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Rita Chao

Rita Chao, best known to her Mandarin-speaking fans as 凌雲 (…Ling Yun or Ling Ying), was born in Singapore, sometime in 1949 or early 1950. She started singing at the age of 8 and was already working as a singer and actress at 14.












Her parents saw her potential as an artist quite soon, and decided to pull Rita out of school to join the Opera troupe and she was performing Chinese Opera on stage. At the end of 1965 - when she was just 15 - while touring Malaysia with her former group, she joined a band called Super XX. Rita was discovered on the local entertainment scene by Su Yin (舒雲), a.k.a. Henry Foo, a Singaporean singer, songwriter and lyricist, who at the time was also the A&R manager for the Chinese section at Columbia / EMI. 

In 1966 she was signed by the label and released her very first 7" EP. On this record, she was paired with the top guitar band from Singapore, The Quests. The EP sold over 50.000 copies, and for Rita it was instant stardom. During those days Rita met Sakura Teng (櫻花). Sakura was already a star singing at various Cabarets throughout South East Asia. In 1967 Rita and Sakura began performing as a double act and toured Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, building a fan base.

During her heyday Rita Chao recorded many great Mandarin covers of popular English songs and she was part of the pioneers who launched the Rock Movement in Singapore. Along with Sakura, they were both known as 'A Go-Go Queens of the Sixties"; in those days, they used to perform at the now defunct New World Amusement Park and they both lived in Jalan Besar. Rita's career lasted about ten years. In 1975, when her last solo album was released, she declared in an interview that she was about to make a movie in Hong Kong and that she was tired of singing all the time... In 1980-81 she briefly returned releasing two albums with Sakura, just before disappearing completely.

She passed away in July 2014 after suffering from colon cancer.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Alis Lesley

Alis Lesley (born Alice Lesley; April 20, 1938) is an American rockabilly singer, once billed as "the female Elvis Presley." She was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Her family later moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she attended Phoenix Junior College. She majored in television and radio, and began singing rockabilly while a student.






She was discovered by Kathryn Godfrey, a popular Phoenix television personality and the sister of Arthur Godfrey. With Ms. Godfrey's help, Lesley became a local favorite following her appearances on television station KTVK and in local night clubs. Lesley achieved brief national celebrity with the 1957 release of her Era single, "He Will Come Back to Me" b/w "Heartbreak Harry" (Era Records 45-1034).


Lesley's stage persona as "The Female Elvis Presley" included a guitar slung around her neck, greased-back hair, and combed-down sideburns.She toured Australia in October 1957 with Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, and Johnny O'Keefe.

Following appearances in Quebec in 1959, the historical record on Alis Lesley ends. She seems to have granted only one very brief interview since then: excerpts of it appeared in 2002 in the liner notes of Bear Family’s Memphis Belles: The Women of Sun Records.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Dinah Cancer

Dinah Cancer (born August 28, 1960) is the stage name of vocalist Mary Ann Sims, best known for her band 45 Grave, which helped found the deathrock music genre.










Cancer's first band was Castration Squad, an all-female punk band formed by Alice Bag of Bags. While a member of this band, Cancer used the moniker "Mary Bat-Thing". In 1979, 45 Grave was formed. The band also featured guitarist Paul Cutler (formerly of the Consumers), bassist Rob Graves (previously of Bags), drummer Don Bolles (previously of Germs and Nervous Gender) and keyboardist Paul Roessler (previously of the Screamers and Nervous Gender). In 1981, 45 Grave released their first single, "Black Cross", and contributed several songs to the compilation Hell Comes to Your House.  

The band broke up in 1985, the same year that their song "Partytime" was featured on the soundtrack to the film Return of the Living Dead. They reformed in 1988 and released the live album Only the Good Die Young in 1989. Cancer was also a member of the 45 Grave-related band Vox Pop, and sang backup for Nervous Gender.

In 1997, she formed the band Penis Flytrap, who released the mini album Tales of Terror (1998, Bloody Daggre Records) and the album Dismemberment (2001, Black Plague Records). Cancer and drummer Hal Satan left Penis Flytrap to form Dinah Cancer and the Grave Robbers. In 2004, 45 Grave reformed for their 25th anniversary, with  Rikk Agnew and later Frank Agnew, performed the title track to the 2009 horror film Night of the Demons, and released their second studio album, Pick Your Poison, in 2012 on Frontier Records.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Female Species

Female Species was a band formed in Whittier, California, in 1966 by teenage sisters Vicki and Ronni Gossett. The sisters would go on to forge careers in the music business, working on their craft while bouncing around the country and eventually landing as staff songwriters for music publishing companies in Nashville in the ‘80s and ‘90s.









Members came and went; their base of operations moved to Las Vegas, back to LA, and over to Nashville. Along the way their sound transformed from garage rock to lounge to countrypop, the only constant being an innate mastery of hooks and harmony. Along the way, they crossed paths with The Carpenters, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Judds, and seemingly half of the industry’s power players, rebuffing all untoward advances, focused always on their craft.

In the 1980s they became staff songwriters for music publishing companies in the hit-making business. Relentless pushing landed them a once in a lifetime audition before the court of RCA’s top executives.

The band released a 10" in 1966 and then in 2021, the Chicago based record label Numero Group released the compilation Lp Tale Of My Lost Love.