Pros:Powerful, high-spirited women's music concert; great songs, arrangements, audience involvement.
Cons:The relatively small amount of overt lesbian/gay content may scare away less-tolerant folks.
The Bottom Line: A splendid offering of music by, for and about women; music to make all women feel loved, honored and respected.
I bought a copy of this as a double lp years ago, when such things as lp's were still being made, and it holds up even now as a great women's/folk-rock concert recording. It includes most of the music and spirit of the 1982 Carnegie Hall concert by Olivia recording artists Meg Christian and Cris Williamson, celebrating that women's record label's tenth anniversary. Extensive liner notes recount such details as women arriving from all over the country for this show, some even in limousines and horse-drawn carriages; small-size tuxedos were de rigueur for this women's music milestone.
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The album opens with "Anniversary", a special commemorative song which requires several voice parts to perform correctly, with support from the three-women backing chorus which included percussionist/vocalist Linda Tillery and Tonight Show singer/percussionist Vicki Randle. However, it was the second duo song, Margie Adam's "Beautiful Soul", which captured my heart and hooked me on this recording. It was my first real exposure to Meg Christian's lovely multi-octave voice, Southern accent and all, and I fell in love with it instantly. Meg is also a classically trained guitarist, and the sweet tones of her nylon-stringed instrument play a key role in much of the album's instrumentation. I was already familiar with Cris Williamson's powerful alto and expressive piano work from several other recordings that I had sampled previously.
From here, the album separates in two solo sets showcasing first Meg's emotive folk-influenced style (I especially enjoy her rewriting of "Train Song"), followed by a handful of Cris' more power pop-oriented compositions (of which "Texas Ruby Red" and "Soaring"--dedicated to her mother--are particular standouts). At last the two vocalists reunite for an extended "tuna casserole" medley of songs which have been particular favorites among women's music fans of the 1970's and '80's, including "Waterfall", "Ode to a Gym Teacher" and "Sweet Woman". The fireworks finally close out with an impassioned performance of "Song of the Soul" and a somewhat anti-climactic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".
Although this album was made at the peak of the women's music movement, it is an excellent introduction to the work of these two veteran performer/composers. Unfortunately, more conservative listeners are likely to be scared away from some excellent music by the mere fact that both women are out lesbian/feminists, and lesbian/gay content makes brief but important appearances in this collection. But for heterosexuals like myself with an open-minded curiosity, this concert album showcases the art of two women's music veterans of exceptional talent and vocal ability, and communicates the clear message that among an often-vilified community is a vast reservoir of incredible talent and creativity being offered to those who are willing to take note of it.
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