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.
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…