Cris Williamson - Ain't No Mountain High Enough (1973)
This is JD Doyle with another rather esoteric edition of Queer Music Heritage. The show this month is dedicated to a whole lot of rare and obscure releases by lesbian artists. I'm calling the show Lesbian Music Obscurities, and I've joked with friends that, well, I could do a show like this every month. Now, fans of the Women's Music Movement will probably recognize the voice of the singer of that first song, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." She didn't do many cover versions, so I'll give you another chance to recognize her voice, doing a song called "Easy Evil, written by Alan O'Day. The song was from O'Day's first LP, issued several years before his huge hit "Undercover Angel."
Cris Williamson - Easy Evil (1973)
Yes, that was Cris Williamson, and that track sounds a bit inspired by the hit Carole King albums out at that time, and that time was 1973. The songs come from a very rare privately released EP. And for those too young to know, EP stood for extended play and generally meant four songs on a 7-inch vinyl record. And that one took me a long time to track down. Let's refresh our minds on our Cris Williamson recording history. She released her first album in 1964, when she was just sixteen years old and in high school. Two more self-released albums would follow the next two years. A full album followed in 1971, on a real record label, Ampex, and then came the 1973 EP, and all this was prior to when Olivia Records began, in 1974. That EP had two more songs, but I'm saving those for the end of this segment.
I'm going next to another artist who later recorded on the Olivia Records label, and her first album was on that label in 1986. She's Lucie Blue Tremblay and she also had a bit of recording history in her native Canada. One of her most popular songs is called "So Lucky," and it's definitely my favorite by her. Well, I've got the original version of it, from four years earlier, in 1982. It's on a 45 rpm record, again, a very rare one, and I found it interesting it wasn't even the A-side of the disc. That was a song called "La Freak," and as Lucie Blue was from Montreal, it was sung in French. Here are "So Lucky" and "La Freak."
Blue Tremblay - So Lucky / La Freak (1982)
I followed Lucie Blue Tremblay with another Canadian singer, Sara Ellen Dunlop, doing the songs from her 1976 45 rpm recording, "Looking Out the Window" and "Rock & Roll Music." Dunlop is also a pioneer. She's been honored in Canada as being a true force in Women's Music there, not only for her singing but for opening one of the first gay & lesbian bars in Toronto, called the Music Room, a place where our community could feel safe long before there were gay parades to march in. She founded one of the first lesbian bands in the early 70's, called Mama Quilla. Sara Ellen Dunlop died in 1978, and the year before a new band formed, and in honor of Mama Quilla, they called themselves Mama Quilla II. They released one 12" 45 in 1982 and from it I picked the song "Angry Young Woman."
Quilla II - Angry Young Woman (1982)
Again, in that set the first act was Mama Quilla II, and shortly after that release, in 1982, the lead singer Lorraine Segato and the drummer, Billy Bryans, joined with others to form Parachute Club, one of the most popular Canadian bands of the 1980's. And the second song of that set was the very lesbian-specific "Normandy," from Miki Wagner on her 1981 LP called "Infatuation." And I couldn't resist playing another song from that album, her cover of the Joe Jackson song "Is She Really Going Out With Him."
Lily Tomlin - Edith Ann on Lesbians / Doris Gay (1974)
Okay, that wasn't music but I had to share those. If you are old enough to remember the 1970s hit TV show "Laugh-In" then you probably loved the characters Lily Tomlin gave us, including Edith Ann and Ernestine, though those two clips were definitely not from TV. They came from a charity event from 1974 called "Gay Liberation Follies."
I'm going to slip in a bit of country, and lyrically lesbian country is a bit hard to find. But Jane Howard gave us some on her cassette tape called "Passage," in 1989. There's just "Something About Her."
Howard - Something About Her (1989)
And the Cowgirl Sweethearts gave us that song about bathroom confusion. "You Got Me All Wrong" was from their 1994 cassette called "The Cowgirl Collection."
And here's a very rare song by one of the most beloved singers of the Women's Music Movement, Meg Christian. What makes it so very rare is that it was on the very first record released by Olivia Records, a 45 rpm one, and the song appeared on no album. Also unusual is that it was a cover song. So here's Meg singing the Carole King song "Lady."
Christian - Lady (1974)
Click for LP and liner note scans for Carole Etzler LPS
That second, and very short song was called "Women Loving Women," and is from the 1976 LP "Sometimes I Wish," by Carole Etzler.
And one of our earliest lesbian music pioneers is actually more known for her contribution to lesbian journalism. In 1947, going by the pen name of Lisa Ben, which is an anagram for lesbian, Edith Eyde created, published and distributed the very first lesbian magazine, which she called Vice Versa. Nine issues were done, through 1948, and by the way, you can read them all on my website. But Lisa was also an entertainer, and loved to especially sing parodies of known songs, done with a lesbian twist. Her music appears in several gay & lesbian documentaries, including "Before Stonewall." She wrote original songs as well, and the Daughters of Bilitis issued one of them on a 45 rpm record, in 1960, as a fundraiser. Here's "Cruisin Down the Boulevard," and its flip side, "Frankie & Johnnie."
Lisa Ben - Cruisin' Down the Boulevard / Frankie & Johnny (1960)
This is JD Doyle and I'm winding down Part 1 of my special show Lesbian Music Obscurities, and as promised at the start, I've got the other two songs from that very rare Cris Williamson EP from 1973. First you'll hear one called "Mambo Jambo," done kind of in the vein you would expect, and the other song, which was the name of a horse, "Sham," is a bit more high spirited, and was done live before an audience. That one was re-recorded in 1978 for Cris' LP "Live Dream." Here are "Mambo Jambo" and "Sham."
Cris Williamson - Mambo Jambo / Sham (1973)
Artemis Singers - I Enjoy Being a Dyke (2001)
Ah yes, those women enjoy being dykes. That was by the Artemis Singers, who call themselves Chicago's Lesbian Feminist Chorus, and in 2005 they put out a two-CD set called "25 Years," capturing performances from their long history. This is JD Doyle with Part 2 of my special show on Lesbian Music Obscurities, and I decided to make this segment all about dykes. Every song will have the word dyke in the title, and of course will be by lesbian singers. Has anyone ever done a segment like this? Dunno, but I hope you stick with me, as there's some good stuff ahead, like a track from a cassette tape Teresa Chandler and Karen Ripley released in 1994 called "I Survived a Femme." The song is "D-Y-K-E."
Chandler & Karen Ripley - D-Y-K-E (1994)
Allison Farrell was in the middle of that set, singing "I Like Being a Dyke," from her 1993 album, "Tomboy," and then we heard Lynn Thomas and "Dykes." That was from "Courage," her 1991 release.
Now, some of you may know of the group The Fabulous Dyketones, which was together in a lot of incarnations for many years. From 1988, their theme song starts off this next set.
Dyketones - Fabulous Dyketones Theme Song (1988)
Click for larger LP and liner note scans for Judy Reagan
The song "My Dyke," of course to the tune of "My Guy," was done by a duo that went by Women in Comfortable Shoes. That was Haris Blackwood and Janice Gennevois and their 1992 CD "Sole Searching" was very queer, just the way I like it. And Judy Reagan was pretty stern in her song called "Dyke." That was from her 1983 LP "Old Friends."
And I'm starting this next set off a bit more mellow, with a song from one of our early comedy treasures, Lynn Lavner. From her 1986 LP "I'd Rather Be Cute," comes "First Dyke on Dynasty."
Click for larger LP scans for Coming Out - Ready or Not
Lavner - First Dyke on Dynasty (1986)
Lots of history in those last two tracks, and the iconic Tom Robinson is connected to both of them. In 1982 a concert was recorded benefiting the London Gay Switchboard, with a bunch of artists and Robinson being the main draw. Of course he sang "Glad To Be Gay," but for this show I needed a dyke song and there was one in the concert by long time lesbian educator and activist Carol Uszkurat. She sang "What's It Like To Be a Dyke?"
The next song was "A Dyke's Gotta Do What a Dyke's Gotta Do." On that one Tom Robinson provided backing vocals to Jill Posener, who is not at all known as a singer, but the record was also a benefit one, this time for London's Gay Pride, in 1979. Posener has a long resume including being a Lambda Literary Award winning editor, an author, photographer, and was the first female member of Gay Sweatshop, Britain's first gay professional theatre company; and she wrote the company's first lesbian play, Any Woman Can, in 1974. Again, lots of history.
And here's one more UK recording and the song was sung live at the London Gay Pride in 1979 that I just mentioned. But I need to back up in the artist's history as she was a popular artist in the early 60s, when girl singers were the rage in the UK, and she released a number of now very hard to find 45 rpm recordings. Anyway the singer was named Polly Perkins, and the track is from 1976. I did a feature on her a few years ago and she told me the song was only on a cassette and only sold at gigs and at the lesbian nightclub she had then, so this is very rare. Now the recording quality is not studio quality, as it's a demo but it's too historic not to share it with you. It's called "Superdyke." A side note, when she sang the song at Gay Pride in London in 1979, Polly was booed off the stage by the politically correct lesbians, because she was wearing lipstick and hot pants. That may have been prior to the phrase "lipstick lesbian." Again, here's "Superdyke."
Perkins - Superdyke (1976)
After Polly Perkins and "Superdyke" came a very short song from a movie from 1976 called "The First Nudie Musical." Among the so-called stars were Cindy Williams, just before she started filming "Laverne & Shirley." And the song "Lesbian Butch Dyke," sung by Debbie Shapiro, lasted only 54 seconds. And closing that set was Melinda and the title track from her 1994 cassette "Dyke Dramas."
Yes, I know it's only September but I have a couple of Christmas dykes for you. From a very, very rare 1986 cassette tape by Jan Barlow is the title song, "Dyke the Halls." And she'll be followed by an act that really can sing.
Barlow - Dyke the Halls (1986)
From 1995 comes one of the very best LGBT holiday albums ever, by Venus Envy. "Silent Dyke" is from the classic "I'll Be a Homo For Christmas."
This next set is definitely more upbeat, starting with Le Tigre, and a dancey song from their 2001 CD "Feminist Sweepstakes," called "Dyke March 2001." And they will be followed by a band from Scotland named Scragfight. From 2011, their song is the newest song in this segment and is called "Dyke Liberty & the Fag."
Tigre - Dyke March 2001 (2001)
After Scragfight was the song "Dyke Hag," courtesy of the Austin band Raunchy Reckless & the Amazons. And there are two more dyke songs to go, and I could not leave out Monica Grant. From her delightful 1996 CD "Parodisiac" is "PC Dyke."
Monica Grant - PC Dyke (1996)
Again, that was Monica Grant and her album also contains a bisexual version of "My Boyfriend's Back," but that's for another time. This is JD Doyle with the closing song of this way too long dyke set. It's by a quite funny UK artist, Clare Summerskill. I have several CDs by her but this song comes from her 1999 release, "Make It Sound Easy." She says she wants an "Obvious Dyke."
Clare Summerskill - Obvious Dyke (1999)
And that's probably the request of every singer on this show, "Play It On the Radio." That's an unreleased demo, from 1980, and therefore certainly qualifies for this show, called Lesbian Music Obscurities. And this is JD Doyle for Queer Music Heritage, and we're in Part 3 and I thank Beth Caurant for sending me that song. She was the founder of the band Lilith and they were one of the very earliest lesbian bands. They formed in 1972 and finally got to release their only LP in 1978. The album and this song are called "Boston Ride."
- Boston Ride (1978)
And that was Gayle Marie and a track from her 1982 album, "Night Rainbow." It was called "Stormy Nights," and she got some help on backups by Gwen Avery. And, you heard Teresa Chandler & Karen Ripley on Part 2 of the show, when I played a song from their 1994 cassette "I Survived a Femme." This time I'm sharing with you the title track.
Chandler & Karen Ripley - I Survived a Femme (1994)
Below, a bit grainy, but I took this shot at a gay business expo in Houston in 2002
I turned that into a Houston, Texas, set, and in the middle were Girls With Guitars. No, Girls With Guitars is what Ferryn Martin and Kelly Wallin called themselves, and the songs "By My Side" and "Mine All Mine" were from their 1996 CD "This Is The Life." Then, okay, this next performer is a friend of mine, for a lot of years, Nancy Ford. She's known in Houston for her performances that she calls "The Dyke Show." Back in 1995 she was one of many artists who participated in a project named Spectrum '95, kind of a gay music festival, and a various artists CD was released, called "Hand in Hand," which is now quite hard to find. Nancy Ford's contribution was "I Need a Woman," which I believe, she still does.
And coming up are two women's softball songs. There was a trio in 1992 called Destiny, made up of Mary Jo Paranzino, Mary Apt and Diana Bitting, and their cassette was called "We Are Destiny," and it was terrific. I'm playing the song "It's Alright," and then their softball song, "Softball on Belmont Plateau."
- It's Alright / Softball on Belmont Plateau (1992)
That second softball song was logically just called "Softball," and was by Judy Reagan from her 1983 LP "Old Friends." And here comes a UK band from 1980 who called themselves the Friggin' Little Bits, who sing to us regretfully that "My Folks Are Coming to Stay."
Little Bits - My Folks Are Coming to Stay (1980)
That was The Righteous Mothers, praising the glories of "Haagen Dazs," done 60's style, from their 1986 album "Stand Up." And up next another UK singer followed by a Dutch band that was the first out of the closet lesbian rock band in Europe.
Wood - I'm Scared of Jackie (1985)
That first song was by Penny Wood, from 1985, and I guess I'm not surprised her song "I'm Scared of Jackie" was from a recording called "Love Don't Behave." And then "Girls Love Girls" was done by the band Wicked Lady, and you can hear an in-depth interview with the lead singer, Sue Exley, on my July 2011 show.
This next song is not all that much of an obscurity but I think you'll like it. It's from Jamie Anderson's 1995 album, "Never Assume." She sings about "When Cats Take Over the World."
Jamie Anderson - When Cats Take Over the World (1995)
This is JD Doyle closing down the third hour of Lesbian Music Obscurties, and I thank you for listening. Of course I've just scratched the surface in this area, and will likely do a follow up show in the future. The closing song is one I've loved for years. The band Rhythm Method included it on their self-titled recording from 1994, and it's a very lesbianized cover of an old hit by the Shirelles, called "I Met Her on a Sunday."
Rhythm Method - I Met Her on a Sunday (1994)
Click for scans of recordings by Rhythm Method
Williamson, The Early Years