Friday, August 29, 2014

female shriekers

The ongoing Kate Bush mass hysteria got me thinking about other female singers with shrill, soaring voices -- operatic or histrionic or she-warrior whooping. In the postpunk / New Wave era there were a whole bunch of them, although few of them, I suspect, would have acknowledged any affinity with Bush.  Like Bush, these were divisive voices -  fingernails-on-blackboard grating  and/or preposterous to some, sublime and uplifting and empowered to others.

Of exotic Eastern European origins (Serbian on her dad's side, she was born Lili-Marlene Premilovich), Lene Lovich had a couple of big UK hits, like the New Wave boppy "Lucky Number", and initially came over as a charming oddball but then got more operatic and (to most pop punters) off-putting with her later, much smaller hits like "Bird Song"

Then there was Nina Hagen, who had a whole pre-punk career in East Germany as singer of Automobil and then kookified herself in line with New Wave aesthetics

Like a cross between Ari Up and Klaus Nomi

In fact according to Wiki she trained in ballet and opera and was considered an "opera prodigy" aged nine.

Beating Bauhaus to this cover...

How about this potentially shrillgasmic team-up of Nina and Lene, who clearly recognised each other as kindred spirits of stratospheric warble....

Actually not as ear-shattering as you'd expect

In fact Nina actually covered Lene's biggest hit "Lucky Number" and out-showboated her

And then the warrior-chieftainess of suburban postpunk - Toyah Wilcox, whose band  - Toyah - were originally a sort of distaff Adam and the Antz (when the band had a 'Z' on the end) with indie-chart big seller Sheep Farming In Barnet -

Then she followed the trail blazed by Adam and the Ants (with a S on the end now -- less cultic and underground in vybe, more open for teenybop business)  into pop and the UK hit parade

Revealingly, she was originally, and remained primarily an actress  - Derek Jarman's Jubilee and The Tempest,  films, big theatre roles in stage productions by cutting-edge street-raw playrights,

A sort of thesped up, lisping Siouxsie

Once the missing link between Boadicea and Kirk Brandon.... nowadays she's a charming, oh-so-English, matronly-but-sexy figure, married to Bob Fripp, and what a lovely couple they make

There's others worth mentioning....

Pauline Murray, of astonishingly pure vocals, whose solo album backed by The Invisible Girls (Martin Hannett's lot) is soon to be reissued in deluxe expanded bonus-track-laden form by LTM / Les Disques Du Crepuscule

Poly Styrene and Siouxsie and Ari Up as pioneers

Over in the States, Missing Persons's Dale Bozzio

And Clare Grogan, in her early mode of Siouxsie-as-cutie, punkette pixie

Prototypes in pre-punk?

Grace Slick

Sonja Kristina from Curved Air

Who I hear a trace of in this Nina with Autombil tune

Oh, and a few more sort-of-vaguely connected New Wavers -- not so much shrieky as warbly in the case of the Modettes

And high-pitched but not vocally strong or imposing enough to really rank as a shrieker: Honey Bane

And how could I forget? Beki Bondage of Vice Squad, who judging by the interview bits really was the Kate Bush of punk -- so well spoken, so nice.

Indians In Moscow

And Danielle Dax - the Peel Band / DIY underground's very own equivalent to Bush perhaps - theatrical, fantastical of lyrics, produced her own music, fluctuating vocally.... perhaps more breathy than shrieky but still....

as one YouTube appreciator puts it, "if bowie and kate bush had produced a child this is what she would have sounded like...."