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Genya Ravan


Country of origin:

Born in Poland, raised and lives in the U.S.

Type of music generally:

R&B, soul, mainstream pop/rock

Status:

Most recent release, Cheesecake Girl (2013)

See also:

Genya Ravan's site

Wikipedia's entry for Genya Ravan

Also recorded with Goldie & the Gingerbreads, and under the names Goldie Zelkowitz and Patsy Cole

Comparisons:

An earlier and hard-rocking Pat Benetar, Janis Joplin

Covers/own material:

Own, occasional covers

General comments:

The inlay card for Ten Wheel Drive's Construction #1 album carries the statement "WARNING: NOT FOR EASY LISTENING!" It's accurate. Not that their music is severely dissonant (it isn't), but neither is it the homogenized stuff that occupied so much of the AM airwaves in those days. On the average, it could be described as "Janis Joplin meets Blood, Sweat and Tears"—with many exceptions to this rule.
     The former Genya Zelkowitz first became prominent in the rock world in the 60s, fronting a girl group called Goldie and the Gingerbreads. She eventually got out of that genre, and subsequently became the vocalist for the jazz-rock band Ten Wheel Drive. That act ultimately folded, and Genya Ravan finally ended up as a solo artist before she got out of the performing side of the business, and became a producer. Knowing what I do about the bulk of 60s girl-groups, my intuitive sense is that it may be just as well that the details of the Gingerbreads' material are essentially forgotten today :-); but she did some intriguing stuff with Ten Wheel Drive and later as a solo, which in a sense makes it a pity that she/they were active as artists for such an apparently short time.
     Ravan's artistic vision is cross-pollenated by many of her contemporaries, without being a clone of any of them. At the same time, she shares much of the consciousness of such female hard-rock artists of today as L7 and Babes in Toyland, but expresses it through a more consonant style of music than they do. Which brings yet another existential question :-) to mind: Was Genya Ravan one of the original riot grrrls? Maybe. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Recordings:

  • Construction #1 (Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan, 1969)
  • Brief Replies (Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan, 1970)
  • Peculiar Friends (Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan, 1971)
  • Genya Ravan (1972)
  • They Love Me, They Love Me Not (1973)
  • Goldie Zelkowitz (1974)
  • Urban Desire (1978)
  • ...And I Mean It! (1979)
  • Best Of Ten Wheel Drive (Ten Wheel Drive compilation, 1995)
  • For Fans Only! (2003)
  • Genya Ravan Live, (live, 2006)
  • Undercovers (2010)
  • "I Won't Cry Anymore" (single, 2011)
  • Cheesecake Girl (2013)

Construction #1

Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan

Release info:

1969—Polydor

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Genya Ravan—vocals, harmonica, tambourine
Aram Schefrin—guitar, percussion
Mike Zager—organ, piano, clarinet

Guest artists:

Bill Takas—bass
Leon Rix—drums, cello, percussion
Louis Hoff—flute, sax; Dennis Parisi—trombone
Jay Silva—flute, trumpet, flugelhorn
Richard Meisterman & Peter Hyde—trumpet, flugelhorn

Produced by:

Walter Raim

Comments:

The first three tracks on the album, for instance, are a blues- rock piece in the best tradition of Big Brother and the Holding Company, a very lyrical jazz piece, and a bit of psychedelic rock with much in common with Iron Butterfly's "In A Gadda Da Vida"—all graced by Ravan's decidedly unethereal yet nonabrasive belting. The brass-dominated accompaniment is variously reminiscent of Blood, Sweat and Tears' eponymous album of the same period, in a different musical idiom; and of the extensive use of brass backup on Laura Nyro's New York Tendaberry album, again close to the album under discussion in time of release, but much closer to it musically. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Urban Desire

Release info:

1978—20th Century Fox

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Genya Ravan—vocals, harmonica, percussion

Guest artists:

Bobby Chen—drums, percussion
Stu Daye—guitar
John Paul Fetta—bass
Ritchie Fleigler—guitar, mandolin, slide guitar, rhythm guitar
Charlie Giordano—keyboards
Ivan Král—vocals
David Lasley—vocals
Don Nossov—bass
Paul Opalach—bass
Lou Reed—vocals
Joey Ribaudo—vocals
Conrad Taylor—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, rhythm guitar

Produced by:

Genya Ravan

Comments:

Ravan's solo album some years later also displays some stylistic variety on individual tracks, but the overall patina is that of a relatively hard rocker for a woman of the period, whose lyrics foreshadow the assertive imagery of others who came along in the next few years (the example of Pat Benatar comes to mind), and through the decades that followed. The tracks on side 1 range from a subtle spoof of the girl-group genre in which she once worked, to a number with a clear Rolling Stones influence (the first time I can recall derivatives of Phil Spector and Mick Jagger appearing back to back on the same album), to a duet with a male vocalist that comes across like Joy of Cooking with a much harder edge, to a cover of the Supremes' "Back in My Arms Again." The Joplinian influences of the Ten Wheel Drive period are again in evidence here; the duets may have something in common with some of the work of Delaney and Bonnie, to which my exposure to date has been very limited. The final selection on the album seems to be influenced musically by some of the work of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

"I Won't Cry Anymore" (single)

Release info:

2011—Bongo Boy Records

Availability:

See Bongo Boy Records' site

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Genya Ravan—vocals

Guest artists:

Gar Francis—guitars, keyboards
Danny Caruso—bass, tambouring
Bobby Chen—drums

Produced by:

Gar Francis

Comments:

Legendary singer Genya Ravan teams up with Gar Francis for a powerful, rockin' tune that lives up to the promise of her still-strong voice. She's still every bit the vocal powerhouse and Francis' sly rocker is definitely a good showcase for it. I'd like to hear more. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)


Thanks to Mitch Pravatiner and Anna Maria Stjárnell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2015-06-14 16:51:57.
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