ATN correspondent Carla DeSantis (Publisher of the very fine ROCKRGRL
Magazine) reports: In the year of the once and always controversial Roe v.
Wade decision, where were you? I, for one,
was just beginning my life-long descent into musical
music created by female artists in '73. The selection of music at that time
was a rich tapestry (so to speak) of disco, folk, rock and everything in
between. In retrospect, there was much more to the '70s than Saturday
Night Fever." That eclectic mix is
beautifully captured on the new Rock For Choice benefit compilation,
Spirit of '73. The album reminds us of what we love (and what hate)
about the early, pre-punk '70s.
The brainchild of executive producers Joy Ray and Julie Hermelin, Spirit
of '73 took nearly four years
to come to fruition. Despite initial interest from many major female artists
(including a luncheon
with Melissa Etheridge), Joy and Julie heard every excuse in the book from
labels begging off. "You'll never find enough good female bands to fill up a
whole record." And: "The issue is just too hot right
now." Or how about: "I don't want picketers in my parking lot for the next
A deal with 550 Music was inked. A multitude of thematic compilations have
recently flooded the market, but the results in this instance are stellar.
In many cases, the songs contributed to Spirit stretch the musical
boundaries of the artists who appear on
it. It's a treat hearing Babe In Toyland's Lori Barbero breathe life into
hit "More...More...More". Her lovely vocals conjure up memories of
Christine McVie. Who knew? Spirit's two dance hits (Eve's Plum
cover of Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You" and Ebony Vibe
Everlasting's recreation of Sister Sledge's anthemic "We Are Family")
successfully fuse a '70s groove with '90s soul.
Other highlights include two Joni Mitchell remakes. The always-awesome
Roseanne Cash sings an amazing
version of "River," while Sarah McLachlan's Joni-esque voice soars on "Blue".
Roberta Flack is also well
represented here. Melissa Ferrick's "Feel Like Makin' Love" and Cassandra
Wilson's "Killing Me Softly"
are both delightful tributes to Flack's under-appreciated work.
Spirit doesn't do rock quite as well as disco and easy listening.
Letters To Cleo's "Dreams" rocks harder
than the original Fleetwood Mac version., though I'm not sure this is a good
thing. Joan Jett reprises "Cherry Bomb" - this time with L7. Although L7
are the founders of Rock for Choice, I would have preferred the original
Runaways getting back together for this one.
However Johnette Napolitano's "Dancing Barefoot" is tremendous. The former
singer for Concrete Blonde does Patti Smith proud on "Dancing Barefoot." If
this track is any indication, we can expect a lot from her upcoming album
fronting Pretty & Twisted.
Rounding out the compilation are That Dog (Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the
Oasis"), PET (Olivia Newton-
John's "Have You Never Been Mellow"), Indigo Girls (Ferron's "It Won't Take
Long) and Sophie B.
Hawkins (Robbie Robertson's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down).
Spirit of '73 is the most feel-good record I've heard in a while. And
in the angst-as-art wake of current artists, Nine Inch Nails, Soul Asylum,
Pearl Jam, etc., a little feel-good every now and then feels great.