Battle of the Bands (BOTB) – Battle of the Sexes, Round 2: The Women cover Lee Michaels’ “Do You Know What I Mean”

It’s November 1st and time for another Battle of the Bands. Hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween last night. As per my usual tradition, we turned all the lights out, pretended not to be home to avoid incessant doorbell ringing by neighborhood trick or treaters and watched scary movies (Scream and Scream 2).

Speaking of scary movies, I’ve been a long-time fan of the original slasher film Halloween, directed and scored by John Carpenter back in 1978, which introduced the world to the creepy (and until now, apparently indestructible) Michael Myers. Last year on Halloween night, I introduced my Mom to that movie and its many sequels. Yesterday I took her to the new 2018 Halloween.

Set 40 years after the original film, the plot follows Laurie Strode as she prepares to face Michael Myers when he returns to Haddonfield, Illinois, after his killing spree on Halloween night in 1978. Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle reprise their roles as Strode and Myers, respectively, with stuntman James Jude Courtney also portraying Myers.

So how was it? Well, the Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus gave it a 79% and had this to say:

Halloween largely wipes the slate clean after decades of disappointing sequels, ignoring increasingly elaborate mythology in favor of basic – yet still effective – ingredients.

I liked it okay. Jamie Lee Curtis was fantastic, in my opinion. And she looked terrific. I loved her attitude. And I really liked her hair…although that was probably a wig. But then, I’m a Jamie Lee Curtis fan. At the end I asked my Mom if she liked the movie. She said, “Honestly?” Yes Mom, honestly. “No.” So there ya go…

And that’s it for Halloween. Today’s battle has nothing to do with the creepy holiday. It is the second of a three battle event, the Battle of the Sexes for covers of Lee Michaels’ hit “Do You Know What I Mean” and will feature the Female cover artists competing for the chance to take on the winning Male cover artist later this month.

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In case you missed it, the first round was the Male round on October 15th, featuring Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys battling Myles Goodwyn (with Lee Aaron).

The Male Round RESULTS post announced that Kevin Naquin & his Ossun Playboys would be advancing to the final battle, to take on the winner from today battle.

So now we’re on to the Female cover contenders as they battle it out for the gender win in this three-part battle. If you’d like to listen to the original song by Lee Michaels for reference, this link will take you to YouTube to hear it. It is a great song and one of my favorites from the 70s.

Now let’s listen to our female contenders:

Female Contender #1:  Gwen McRae

Gwen McCrae (née Mosley, December 21, 1943, Pensacola, Florida) is an American singer, best known for her 1975 hit “Rockin’ Chair.” She began performing in local clubs as a teenager, and singing with local groups like the Lafayettes and the Independents. In 1963, she met a young sailor named George McCrae, whom she married within a week.

From 1963, she recorded as a duo with her husband George; the couple received a solo recording contract, with Henry Stone’s TK Records. The couple were discovered in 1967 by singer Betty Wright, who helped get them signed to Stone’s Alston record label.

Signed to TK subsidiary Cat as a solo artist, she found success on the U.S. R&B charts with her cover version of Bobby Bland’s “Lead Me On” in 1970, followed by “For Your Love”. Following husband George’s unexpected solo success with “Rock Your Baby”, Gwen went on to have a major hit of her own in March 1975 with “Rockin’ Chair”, a #1 R&B hit which also reached number 9 in the United States’ Billboard Hot 100. The follow-up “Love Insurance” also made the R&B chart (#16).

After TK Records collapsed, McCrae moved to New Jersey and signed with Atlantic Records, recording two albums and having another hit with “Funky Sensation” in 1981 (#22 R&B). She continued to record and the success of some of her earlier recordings on the UK’s Northern Soul scene maintained her popularity as a live act in Europe. McCrae moved back to Florida, recorded this cover, a one-off single for the small Black Jack label in 1984 called “Do You Know What I Mean”, and then temporarily retired from the music industry.

This is her long version so there is a lengthy introduction with a lot of “Do You Know What I Mean” line repeats and can get a bit monotonous when time is of the essence so to get right into the song, start at the 1:00 minute mark:

 

Female Contender #2:  Genya Ravan

Genya Ravan, a.k.a. Goldie (born Genyusha Zelkovicz; April 19, 1945) is an American rock singer and producer. She was lead singer of The Escorts, Goldie & the Gingerbreads, and Ten Wheel Drive.

Genya was born in Łódź, Poland, and arrived in the United States in 1947, accompanied by her parents and one sister. They were the only family members who had survived the Nazi Holocaust in Europe; she also had two brothers, who both died. They did not speak any English. Genya was named ‘Goldie’ by her mother, who claimed Genyusha was not American enough.

Goldie’s career started in 1962 on a dare in a Brooklyn club called The Lollipop Lounge, which is also the title of her autobiography published by Billboard Books. On a dare in a bar, she jumped up to sing. “That was the first time I ever heard my voice”. She was asked to join the band The Escorts. In 1963 she formed Goldie and The Gingerbreads after Genya met drummer Ginger Bianco in a Greenwich Village bar.

After seeing the band at a party for the Rolling Stones, Atlantic Records Chairman Ahmet Ertegün signed them to Atlantic subsidiary Atco Records. Goldie & the Gingerbreads were the first all-girl rock band in history to be signed to a major label and climb the charts.

While playing New York City’s hot spot The Wagon Wheel on 45th Street in Times Square, Mike Jeffries, Eric Burdon, Hilton Valentine, and Chas Chandler spotted them, and wanted them to come to England. Goldie and The Gingerbreads toured with the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, and Manfred Mann. They reached the charts with their hit “Can’t You Hear My Heart Beat” in 1965.

They recorded three albums for Polydor Records: Construction number 1, Brief Replies, Peculiar Friends Are Better Than No Friends. They had many fans, but the group did not take off. Genya left the band in 1971. She was signed to Columbia Records by Clive Davis where she made one album in 1972 titled simply Genya Ravan. Four more solo albums followed through the 1970s.

Ravan performed at the Atlanta Pop Festival, twice at Carnegie Hall and twice at Madison Square Garden, along with various clubs in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia, including the famous CBGB. She appeared on The Mike Douglas Show, The Johnny Carson Show, Della and The Dick Cavett Show television shows.

In 2011, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum included Goldie and The Gingerbreads in their Women in Music exhibit which traveled from state to state. Genya Ravan toured in 2013, selling out New York City’s Iridium and is going back by popular demand.

Also in 2013, Genya released a new album entitled Cheesecake Girl. This cover of the Lee Michaels hit is from that album:

TIME TO VOTE! Which version of the Female contenders do you like better and why? The winner of this battle will go up against the the Male Artist cover winner in the grand finale Battle of the Sexes on November 15th! 

When you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

Thanks for your participation and your votes! Voting will be open until midnight on the November 9th and I’ll post results on the 10th or shortly thereafter. Until then, Rock On my friends…

 

10 thoughts on “Battle of the Bands (BOTB) – Battle of the Sexes, Round 2: The Women cover Lee Michaels’ “Do You Know What I Mean”

  1. Hi, Michele!

    I guess you could say that Gwen & George McRae were a “rockin'” couple given their solo hits “Rockin’ Chair” and “Rock Your Baby.” Gwen’s “Funky Sensation” is coming up on SPMM in an episode of Shady Train.

    In your battle, I enjoyed female cover #1, the version of “Do You Know What I Mean” by Gwen McRae The recording really starts cookin’ during the break. At the 4:30 mark I detected a sampling of the riff from Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” I can imagine Gwen’s platter being played in clubs. I was a bachelor and a lounge lizard in 1984, but I don’t remember hearing it in the clubs I frequented.

    I am familiar with Goldie and The Gingerbreads because I also have them scheduled in an upcoming post. I think Genya Ravan should have stuck with her birth name Genyusha Zelkovicz as her stage name. After all, Arnold Dorsey changed his name to Engelbert Humperdinck and achieved worldwide success. Perhaps Genyusha Zelkovicz could have become a household name as well. 🙂 In your band battle, I prefer Genya’s version of “Do You Know What I Mean” because it is a rock song and works better with a rock arrangement and rock sensibilities. The organ and guitar are high in the mix and pack a punch. Genya’s recording reminds me of Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs.” Can you hear the similarity in the riff? At 1:45 the guitar does that sting thing from Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Do you hear it? Genya’s version simply has too much going for it not to receive my vote. I vote for Genya Ravan!

    Thank you, dear friend Michele!

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  2. I kept my house dark too and blocked off my porch as a further measure. I looked out a few times and saw some trick or treaters, but not as many as in the past. It all looked kind of sad and I almost regretted not handing out candy. Really though, the folks I saw didn’t look all that little. Halloween just isn’t what it used to be.

    I’ve never seen any of the “Halloween” movies to my recollection. I actually have the first film on DVD still wrapped in cellophane and unwatched. Maybe I’ll get to it someday. I’m not particularly enthusiastic about seeing any of these films though.

    Gwen’s version was okay. A bit discoey, but okay.

    I’ve liked Genya’s style ever since I first heard “Through the Eye of the Needle” by Ten Wheel Drive. Come to think of it, that might be the only song by her that I’ve ever heard, but it’s stuck with me since I first heard it in 1969 or thereabouts.

    My vote goes to Genya Ravan.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  3. We totally ignore Halloween as well and are never disturbed, thank goodness. I learned that lesson long ago. Total chaos with dogs! 😛 Not a fan of horror movies, but I do love Jamie Lee Curtis. These ladies were unfamiliar, so, thanks for the introduction. They both have decent voices but Genya has a lot more pizzazz and held my interest longer. Gwen’s version was too “disco” for my taste, as Arlee also said. Please give my vote to the “rockchick”, Genya. (Not surprising, right? 😀 )

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  4. Both versions are all right, tho not as good as the original. Genya’s voice seems to get swamped by the backing band and vocalists. Gwen’s is good but goes on and on and on, and I didn’t find the first minute (which you said we could skip, but I didn’t) added anything to the overall song. But I liked it better, so Gwen gets my vote.

    We also don’t answer the door on Hallowe’en and pretend we aren’t home, but we skip the scary movies, because we think they’re either dumb or unintentionally funny. Fortunately the children were off the streets by 8:30, so we were able to reclaim the living room and watch “Perry Mason” and “Criminal Minds.”

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  5. I wasn’t sure what to expect for Halloween this year, as I haven’t lived in the area for 20 years. Being in an apartment with indoor hallway, It’s not as though I could turn off the porch light and pretend I wasnt home, as I had in my place in Portland… and there are children that live below me. So I invested in some goodies. Sorted them by the good stuff and the really good stuff, with plans to give out the good stuff first and the really good stuff last. Turns out I didn’t have visitors at all. I think everyone went to the local Trunk or Treats instead. I spent my evening working on blog stuff and watching old episodes of House.

    For your battle, I’m going to go with Genya. I just liked her style a little more.

    ~Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

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  6. Halloween was nearly a non-event at our house, as we got a grand total of 10 “trick-or-treaters” that we honored with the traditional treats…candy is dandy. Most of our neighbors are up in years and we just don’t have a big bunch of kiddos hanging around.

    As for the battle, I swear to you I was just singing this song the other day! What are the odds?

    I gotta give it to Genya, though neither version can touch the original!

    Thanks, girl!

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  7. HiYa, MICHELE ~
    Lots of research / background info here that I was not aware of. Sometimes BOTB is as much music history as it is a contest.

    As a couple other boters have stated, the Gwen McRae version is closer to Disco than it is to Rock. And the tone was set with the original recording of this song as a punchy rocker. So, I think Genya Ravan is stylistically in tune with what we’ve come to expect when it comes to this song, and she gets my vote, too.

    It’s early in the boting yet, but it already appears that Genya is likely to advance to the Championship round. And I’ll go out on a limb here, though, and add that I think Genya is going to have her hands full against Kevin Naquin & his Ossun Playboys.

    I heard the Lee Michaels original played just last night in the grocery store next door to where I live and it immediately made me think of your last Battle.

    I’ve never seen any of the ‘Halloween’ movies. Horror is not my genre and there are only a small handful of them that I like. A mostly forgotten one that I always recommend to people is ‘THE SENTINEL’ from the mid-1970s which includes Burgess Meredith in the cast. It’s pretty darn creepy. (I don’t think the trailer does it any justice.) It’s not a slasher kind of Horror movie; more of a mind-ph*q kind of thing. The “horror” is in the weirdness and that “what the hell is going on here?” mystery that the movie is built upon.

    “Black and white cat; black and white cake.”

    ~ D-FensDogG
    STMcC Presents ‘Battle Of The Bands’

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  8. My vote goes to Genya who gave a more rock style. I was not at all into Gwen and felt it just went on too long even though I started it at the one minute mark. I could not watch the original Halloween movie until just last year as I find scary movies too scary and later, too gory. I always liked Donald Pleasance and he was in so many of them. I wish the guy would finally die but I have a feeling he still isn’t dead. I love Halloween and loved trick o treating and didn’t stop until I was 17. I did go out once when I was 23 with 2 friends but went out At 8 and in an area where no little kids were. We were all ghosts to hide our faces and the guy had to wear gloves due to his hairy fingers. When I moved into my home here, we had 120 and it went up to 160 kids but it slowly dwindled. This time we only had 15! I think it is a combo of being midweek, lousy weather and all the kids have grown up.

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  9. Michele,

    I’m sorry for cutting this so close. It’s been a wild ride for the past several days. Anywho, I’ll cut to the chase to give you my vote because I have other battles to tend to. My pick is Genya Ravan! Great job!

    Like

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