QMH OCT 2005 Script
Fabulous Dyketones - She's So Fine (1988)
This is Queer Voices on KPFT and this segment is called Queer Music Heritage. I'm JD Doyle and tonight I'm bringing you a very different show. I'm calling it "Queer Girl Group Songs," and what I'm referring to are cover versions of those wonderful Girl Group songs of the 60's, done with a very gay twist. And I opened the show with a perfect example. That was the Fabulous Dyketones turning the Chiffon's hit "He's So Fine" into their own version, "She's So Fine." Ah, the difference those pronouns can make. I've got a show packed full of songs like that, and a good many of them were by straight artists, like this one by Bryan Ferry.
Ferry - It's My Party (1973)
in background: Flying Pickets - To Know Him Is To Love Him (1982)
That set started out with Bryan Ferry, of Roxy Music, being faithful to the original lyrics of the Lesley Gore smash hit "It's My Party." He recorded that in 1973 on his album "These Foolish Things." And after that was the Crystals "Da Doo Ron Ron," as done by another English artist, Ian Matthews. Matthews may be also known for his work with Fairport Convention and Matthews Southern Comfort, but that song came from a solo album in 1972 called "Tigers Will Survive."
A little background into my interest in this subject. Before I became a fanatical collector of recordings by gay & lesbian artists, I was a fanatical collector of Girl Group records of the 60s, so of course that fascination held whenever I came upon one of the old Girl Group songs done from a gay point of view.
During the 80s I was quite active among those record collectors who specialized in Girl Groups, and I've got my own theory involving that. I had many, many contacts among those collectors, both in the US and England, and it just seemed to me that the vast majority of them were gay. For example, around 1984 I visited some of my collector friends in London, and they got together a gathering of about 8 or 9 of the major Girl Group collectors from the area. Only one was straight. Now I can't tell you exactly why there seems to be some sort of pattern of collectors of this genre of music being gay, but that's just been my observation. Might make a good study for some gay psychologist.
I've been meaning to do a show on this subject ever since my first year of doing Queer Music Heritage. I've had a list of ideas for shows and this one has been on it since the beginning, but I never seemed to get around to actually doing it. So this is the time, and it's been over five years in the making.
Anyway, back to the music, and I won't be interrupting it very much during this show. But I will say that I'm being very liberal in my definition of what is a Girl Group song, as I feel that genre goes beyond those songs being done just by groups.
So I'm going to include gay cover versions of songs by solo artists like Lesley Gore, Connie Francis, Little Peggy March, Shelly Fabares, and Dusty Springfield.
In the background you've been hearing a little of the Teddy Bears hit "To Know Him Is To Love Him," as done in 1982 by the English group The Flying Pickets, but I think a much more interesting version was done by one of my favorite gay acts, The Flirtations. They took a little liberty with the lyrics.
- To Know Him Is To Love Him (1990)
That was the Flirtations doing "To Know Him Is To Love Him," from their debut album from 1990.
And my internet listeners got to hear two more songs by the Flirts, "Johnny Angel" and "The Boy From New York City," as the revised lyrics are not quite ready for radio.
And another one you won't hear on the radio is the Little Peggy March song, "I Will Follow Him," as interpreted by the Kinsey Sicks.
Sicks - I Will Swallow Him (1999)
I just love the Kinsey Sicks version of that song, called "Locked Out of the Chapel of Love," done this time with very updated and political lyrics, from their 2002 album "Sicks In The City."
Oh, and here's one more Kinsey Sicks rendition. It's from their album "Boyz 2 Girlz" and you'll recognize the song.
Kinsey Sicks - Baby Dyke (1999)
Up next is a very obscure gay trio, from San Francisco from around 1978. The group Buena Vista only released one 45, which included a song called "He's Okay." They sang that song in a groundbreaking gay documentary from that time called "Word Is Out." The film also showed a clip of them singing this unreleased version of the Girl Group classic, "He's a Rebel."
Vista - He's a Rebel (1978)
Following Buena Vista was a comedy act called Barnes & Barnes, known primarily for their many songs that made it to the Dr Demento Show, like that one, a twisted cover version of Annette's song "Pineapple Princess."
Now I guess it is logical that most of the queer-sounding cover versions of Girl Group songs were done by men, as that gives you the switched pronouns, but here's one where a female group does their own thing, delightfully so, with the Shirelles' song "I Met Him on a Sunday." The group is called The Rhythm Method, and I also think it's neat that they changed "papa doo run do rundy" to "mama doo run do rundy."
Method - I Met Her on a Sunday (1994)
The Rhythm Method's song came from their 1994 self-titled recording. Following it was an obscure duo from Arizona going by the delightful name of Women In Comfortable Shoes. Their version of "My Guy," renamed of course "My Dyke," was on their 1992 cassette "Sole Searching."
And, here's a very nice cover version of the Dusty Springfield hit "I Only Want to Be With You." It was done by Alix Dobkin, and came from her historic 1974 album, "Lavender Jane Loves Women."
Dobkin - I Only Want to Be With You (1974)
Those of you old
enough will recognize that song, but not that version of it. In 1962
a singer named Joanie Sommers had a hit with it, but that cover version
is very different. It's by a male singer who really camped it up, and
he's not even really a singer. His name is Walter Mayes and he's a writer
of children's stories. The song came from a various artists compilation
from 1998 called "Stranger Than Fiction," where the gimmick
was to have authors sing, folks like Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan,
Maya Angelou and a number of others.
Brats - Then He Kissed Me (1979)
Those were a couple of probably straight punk groups. First was the Hollywood Brats doing the Crystals' song "Then He Kissed Me," from 1979. And that version of the Angels' classic "My Boyfriend's Back" came from an album called "Blow In The Wind," and was done by a recent group called Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, who speciallize in doing punk versions of just all kinds of songs, and have released a number of albums. You should hear them do "Over the Rainbow."
Okay, I just played "My Boyfriend's Back," and by my calculations that song is the Girl Group song that has had more gay cover versions than any other song. I have six different versions, and they are all different, such as this one by Monica Grant, that has a bisexual twist.
Monica Grant - My Boyfriend's Back (1995)
Monica Grant's song came from her 1995 album "Parodisiac," which also contains a parody of the song "Under the Boardwalk," only she calls it "Down at the Sperm Bank."
And this is a good time to invite you to check out my website. If you visit it while you're listening you can see the playlist and follow along, while looking at photos of the artists and recordings. I've always considered our music history as a visual as well as an audio experience. Now, I really enjoyed putting together this show of very gay Girl Group cover songs, and I've got quite a few more excellent songs that could not fit into an hour show, so I decided to go all out and feature them all on the internet version of the show. So you can hear almost 3 hours of this programming at my website, and again, that's at www.queermusicheritage.com, Also, for more very queer programming, please listen to After Hours with Jimmy Carper, every Friday night/Saturday morning from 1 to 4 am, on KPFT, it's Queer Radio, with attitude.
Here comes more punk rock. From 2002 a group called Good Riddance released an album called "Cover Ups," packed full of cover versions, including "Leader of the Pack." The next year a German group, the Revolvers, put out their punk version of "Then He Kissed Me."
Riddance - Leader of the Pack (2002) 2:09
Welcome back to part two of Queer Girl Group Songs.
Time for a couple slower songs. An 80s group from the UK called the Blow Monkeys had the very good fortune of placing one of their recordings on one of the biggest selling compilations of that decade, the soundtrack for the movie, "Dirty Dancing." Here's their version of Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me."
Monkeys - You Don't Own Me (1987)
Following the Blow Monkeys was another group from the UK, the Pearlfishers. And their cover version appeared on a compilation from 2000 called "Caroline Now, The Songs of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys." Brian Wilson had a couple non-Beach Boys projects in the 60s, and one was a girl group called The Honeys. They had no hits, but they did record the very nice song, "Go Away, Boy," though of course I prefer the male version.
An English artist I much respect is Dave Edmunds, who released some masterpieces of production in the 1980s. He obviously was paying homage to the work of producer Phil Spector, with this version of "Da Doo Ron Ron."
Edmunds - Da Doo Ron Ron (1980)
The Dave Edmunds song came from his 1980 album "Subtle as a Flying Mallet," and the song that followed it was obviously done in homage to the sound of George Harrison, which was exactly the point. Around 1975 Harrison lost a copyright lawsuit to the publishers of the song "He's So Fine," because the George Harrison hit "My Sweet Lord" was just a bit too close to the Chiffons song. English singer and producer Jonathan King was trying to prove that point in very obvious ways.
And now for perhaps the prettiest cover version of the entire show, done by two friends of mine, Patrick Arena and Andy Monroe, on their 1998 album "Nightcap." Here's "Johnny Angel."
Patrick Arena & Andy Monroe - Johnny Angel (1998)
As a collector, one of my favorite ways of discovering what I call "accidentally gay" songs are to find a demo version of a song, usually sung by the composer as a means of enticing an artist to record the song. As it was never intended for broadcast, the gender of the singer didn't matter. It was just demonstrating the song. I've got two I love by Neil Sedaka that fits this description, and both were recorded by Connie Francis. The first ended up as a nice album track for her in 1961, but I think Neil's version is much more interesting. It's called "My Best Friend Barbara."
Neil Sedaka - My Best Friend Barbara (1961)
Wouldn't that have been cool on the radio back then? But not as cool as the next one. Around 1967 a group called The Happenings had several hits, like "See You In September," "Go Away Little Girl," and "I Got Rhythm." Neil probably pitched to the Tokens, who were the producers of The Happenings, a song copying their style, for possibly a female version of the group. That never happened, but we're left with Neil's priceless rendition of the Connie Francis hit "Where the Boys Are."
Neil Sedaka - Where the Boys Are (1967)
I just love that one, and we'll hear another version of the song later.
Out of England I'm bringing you another example of a demo, this time by songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. They wrote a number of hits in the late 60s, including the Coke commercial, "I'll Like to Buy the World a Coke." They tried to score with another commercial as well. In England in the 60s there was a potato chip product called Golden Wonder Crisps, and their TV ads featured a super-hero-type kid called Golden Wonder Boy. This song was made for the ad campaign, but it's not known if it was ever used. So, here's Roger Cook on lead, with writing partner Roger Greenaway singing "Golden Wonder Boy."
Roger Cook & Roger Greenaway - Golden Wonder Boy (60s)
I was sharing with you demo versions of songs, and another prolific songwriter prone to recording her own demos, regardless of gender, was Jackie DeShannon, who on her own had huge hits with "Put a Little Love In Your Heart" and "What the World Needs Now."
DeShannon - Nothing's Gonna Stop Me (early 60s)
Those demos by Jackie DeShannon were called "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me" and "There's Gonna Be A Fight" and were likely from around 1962 or '63. And here's another song, that almost works. See if you can tell why it doesn't.
Montells - Someday My Prince Will Come (1964)
Okay, I cheated on that one. That obscure group was the Montells, a real girl group from 1964, and I played you their 45 at a speed of about 38 rpm, but wouldn't have it been neat for a male doo wop group to have recorded a song called "Someday My Prince Will Come"?
Another English group that did Girl Group covers was The Flying Pickets. I used their version of "To Know Him Is To Love Him" as background music in the beginning of the show, so it's fair to give them their own time, doing an interesting arrangement of "Da Doo Ron Ron." It's from their 1982 album "Flying Pickets Live."
Flying Pickets - Da Doo Ron Ron (1982)
A while back I said I had six different versions of "My Boyfriend's Back." You've heard two so far, here are two more, and I can play them back to back because they are very different. First up, from 1990 is one by a punk group called Alice Donut.
Alice Donut - My Boyfriend's Back (1990)
Gee, that seemed a lot longer than 2 minutes and 15 seconds, didn't it? That was by the group Alice Donut from their CD "Mule."
This next song, if it's not the gayest, it's certainly the campiest cover version. It's from a very rare 45 from 1980, and whoever named the act definitely had tongue in cheek, and other places. Here are the Bee Jays.
BeeJays - My Boyfriend's Back (1980)
In 1999 a gay artist named Tom Bogdan put together a show, and a CD, called "L'Amour Bleu," which featured a couple doo wop sounding songs. You'll recognize the first one.
Bogdan - He's So Fine (1999)
Of course the first song was a cover version of "He's So Fine," and the other is not a cover song, but it fit so well with what I'm doing on this show, I just had to include it. Tom Bogdan wrote that one, called "Doo Rundy Song." Very nice.
Up next are a trio of songs from England that rate very high on the camp scale. Some of you who watch the BBC may have heard of Julian Clary, a comedian who had a TV game show for a number of years, but the show was unbelievably gay, and even included him singing. Some of the shows are out on video, and from one of them I took the Mary Wells song "My Guy." Since there was a studio audience, you'll hear a little laughter.
Julian Clary - My Guy (1993)
That's from Julian Clary's video called "My Glittering Passage," from 1993. Now this next song by him is one of my favorites from this whole show. He released the song in 1988 as a 45 under a different and very campy name. Here's the Joan Collins Fan Club and "Leader of the Pack."
Joan Collins Fan Club (Julian Clary) - Leader of the Pack (1988)
I just love that. Now this next one, also from the UK, is very obscure. It's from 1977 and was probably the only release by a group called The Roadies. Instead of "Leader of the Pack," they're doing one called "Packer of the Leads."
Roadies - Packer of the Leads (1977)
Again, that was "Packer of the Leads," by the Roadies.
Welcome back to part three of Queer Girl Group Songs, and thanks for sticking with me.
Taking us to a whole new place is gay artist Frank Rogala, on his 1996 album "Crimes Against Nature." He updated these two Girl Group songs.
Rogala - My Boyfriend's Back (1996)
After "My Boyfriend's Back" we heard a song Frank Rogala did that was a very obscure recording by the Crystals, called "He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)." That song was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and legend has it that it was based on a story told to them by their baby sitter. Okay, that's fine, but this was 1962. "He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)"? For radio? What were they thinking?
And here's a super-medley of Girl Group songs, done by Melissa Etheridge. This was recorded live in 1996 at the Concert for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, when it opened in Cleveland.
Melissa Etheridge - Be My Baby / Love Child / Leader of the Pack (1996)
Of course that was Melissa Etheridge, doing the hits "Be My Baby," "Love Child" and "Leader of the Pack." And from one super-medley to another. From 1988, here are four more by the Fabulous Dyketones.
Dyketones - Da Doo Ron Ron (1988)
In my August QMH show I interviewed Gretchen Phillips, and one of the many groups she was involved with was called Girls In The Nose. They released a self-titled cassette in1990 that contained their own version of the Mary Wells song "Two Lovers." The song is about 7 minutes long so here's an edited version of it.
In The Nose - Two Lovers (1990)
After Girls In the Nose was one of our culture's enigmas, Klaus Nomi. He came to New York City from Germany in the mid-70s and became known for his remarkable vocal performances and unusual stage persona. He did amazing interpretations of songs you would not expect, like "The Twist," "Falling In Love Again," "Lightning Strikes," and "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead." In 1979 he appeared as a backup singer for Davie Bowie on Bowie's famous Saturday Night Live appearance. He became one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS, in 1983, and now he's the subject of a fascinating new DVD, called "The Nomi Song."
I'm down to my last cover version of "Da Doo Ron Ron," so you know I must be getting toward the end of the show. I did a quick study of the songs on this show done by straight males, and found that the odds of the artists being from England are about two to one. Does that mean the British are less hung up about their sexuality than Americans. Could that be? Well, if so then this is probably the strangest survey to ever make that assumption. Anyway, I was telling you about the next cover version of "Da Doo Ron Ron." It's by English folk artist Dave Burland, from his album called "Rollin'," from 1988.
Dave Burland - Da Doo Ron Ron (1988)
"Da Doo Ron Ron" by Dave Burland.
As I said, we're winding down, four more songs to go, and yes, I know Dusty Springfield was not a Girl Group singer, but her music was sure a big part of that same era. So I want to slip in a terrific cover version of one of her classics. Here's Jeff Krassner doing his part as "Son of a Preacher Man."
Jeff Krassner - Son of a Preacher Man (1995)
Now, where would a show about queer cover versions of Girl Group songs be without a disco song? Surprisingly, I found only one of this nature. In 1998 Singapore native Laurence Tan, now living in Toronto, released an album that gave a dance beat to the Little Peggy March gem "I Will Follow Him."
Laurence Tan - I Will Follow Him (1998)
That was a very edited version of "I Will Follow Him" by Laurence Tan.
And I'm going to cheat a little and instead of playing a cover version of a 60s Girl Group song, I'm going to play the real thing. But this song is itself a cover version, of a song from the musical "The King and I." In 1963 a very obscure group called The Luvs, and that's spelled L-U-V-S, released the song "We Kiss In The Shadows." They did it in a style similar to the 50s doo wop group, The Flamingos, and I think it's gorgeous. The special significance of this song is that it was one of those songs in the 50s, like "Secret Love," that gays identified with because of the lyrics, about having to hide our love.
Luvs - We Kiss in the Shadows (1963)
That was "We Kiss In The Shadows" by The Luvs.
I'm down to the last song, but before I get to it I want to thank you all for listening, and I want to thank my friend David Young, in Seattle, for his assistance. And, as always if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please write me. And I wish you would. And, if you know of any gay Girl Group songs I've missed, I definitely want to know. My website, of course is at www.queermusicheritage.com. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston.
I'm closing the show with a song by one of my favorite gay artists, Michael Callen. I've often said I thought he should be sainted. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1982 and it's hard to believe he accomplished so much in the eleven years until his death in 1993, at age 38. He became a leading AIDS activist, and was one of the founders of the People With Aids Coalition, and through all his writing and speaking, he remained devoted to his music. He released his first album, "Purple Heart," in 1988, and that same year The Flirtations were formed. The group toured nationally and released two albums and appeared in the movie "Philadelphia." And the music, as you heard early in the show, was excellent, and very out. His version of this last song I think is a masterpiece, and you'll see how long he can hold a note. Michael Callen and "Where the Boys Are."
Michael Callen - Where the Boys Are (1989)
For Fanatics Only:
Queer Cover Versions of GG Songs Uncovered Too Late for This Show:
God Is My Co-Pilot - Out In The Streets (from "I Am Not This Body," 1997, queercore)
Puleeze, let me know of others I've missed...email me here