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For Fans Only

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Album Review

The long awaited follow-up to Genya Ravan's ...And I Mean It and Urban Desire albums is here. For Fans Only shows the many sides of Ravan on one disc, from the soulful music of her They Love Me/They Love Me Not and Goldie Zelkowitz projects to the street smarts of Urban Desire. She starts the CD off with a beautiful and interesting "Fly Me to the Moon," the Bart Howard composition which was released in 1954 by Kaye Ballard under the title "In Other Words." As Willie Alexander reinvented "Tennessee Waltz" on Solo Loco, and Janis Joplin had her voice put out there with sparse backing on "Mercedes Benz," Ravan gives a similar creative treatment to this standard, a 1982 one-off recording with piano, saxophone, and a backing vocalist. It is almost as telling as "202 Rivington St." — a biographical original about the building and street Goldie Zelkowitz was brought up on — from the Genya Ravan Live at the Bottom Line album recorded in 1981. That still-unreleased project was supposed to follow 1979's ...And I Mean It. Because those recordings are still on the shelf, it's been 22 years since a full album from the lips of this singer has reached God's ear...as well as the ears of the world. Though there are many songs that Ravan has produced for other artists during the years in between, it was much too long a time for the stellar vocalist to take off from performing. Hopefully this new release marks the start of the next phase of her singing career. Mike Thorne suggested Ravan cover the Beatles, and they recorded about five Fab Four tunes. "Don't Let Me Down" is here on For Fans Only and it is brilliant, one of the highlights of the disc. Those eerie "How Do You Sleep" riffs that back up John Lennon when he sings the chorus of that classic song from the Imagine LP are lifted and transplanted onto this Beatles cover. There is depth and imagination to this large-sounding performance. Because For Fans Only is a compilation, the tapes are from different sources, but the tracking works — especially for fans. "Rattle Snake Shake" is overpowering, and the singer gave the All Media Guide the scoop on how this Peter Green song from Fleetwood Mac's Then Play On album was recorded in 1979: "Rattle Snake was a rehearsal at Media Sound; we just let the mikes roll and put to tape...no engineer." What might actually be a hit for the singer in this new millennium is the voodoo-style cover of Alan O'Day's "Easy Evil." Recorded back in 1973 by both Dusty Springfield (her Cameo LP) and Lulu (her self-titled Chelsea records release), those excellent takes do not have the Louisiana bayou vibe that permeates this tremendous rendition. Probably the best Alan O'Day cover since Three Dog Night put "Heavy Church" on their most famous album Naturally. You would never think the dude who wrote Helen Reddy's "Angie Baby" came up with this composition when you hear the sultry and mysterious production and vocal. Modern rock radio could play this right next to Godsmack, and should. Not enough people are covering Marvin Gaye, and few could recapture, let alone reinvent, the spirit of his "To Keep You Satisfied," but this one will make your jaw drop. How do you follow that? A bluesy cover of the Troggs' "Any Way That You Want Me," written by Chip Taylor of "Wild Thing" fame, does the trick, but this bluesy painting has funky stops and starts, real tension that puts it over the top. Long John Baldry steps in to duet with Ravan on the Etta James/Tina Turner classic "Something's Got a Hold on Me," and this 1978 London recording has the fabulous Thunderthighs (they sang on Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side") sounding like the Edwin Hawkin Singers. The Martin Luther Choir take that concept up a notch on Shel Silverstein's "Carry Me Carrie," gospel meets the blues, an outtake from Urban Desire. With one more tune than the 12-song They Love Me/They Love Me Not album, this is Ravan's most generous offering (outside of the Best of Ten Wheel Drive collection), and the only thing missing is a rendition of her co-write with Zager and Schefrin, "Why Am I So Easy to Leave?" off the fourth Ten Wheel Drive album which had the Rascals' Annie Sutton singing. That's OK, for now, as two new tracks from 2001 frost the cake, a duet with Joe Droukas on "Reconsider" and a blockbuster version of the Vanilla Fudge chestnut "Take Me for a Little While" end this fabulous disc and will no doubt have fans flooding her mailbox with requests for more. All that can be said is "encore."

Biography

Born: 1940 in Lódz, Poland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s

Genya Ravan is an important rock & roll personality and influential vocalist and record producer, born Genya Zelkowitz on April 19, 1945, in Lodz, Poland. Her mom later changed her name to Goldie Zelkowitz, Ravan taking her birth name back when she formed the band Ten Wheel Drive. When her parents left Poland, they went into a Russian camp. The singer kindly gave personal details of her youth to AMG on April 4, 2002: "We lost everyone. I never had an aunt or an uncle, I had two brothers, they died....
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For Fans Only, Genya Ravan
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