Perpetual Change: Three Music Reviews

| Nov 21, 2016
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This month’s installment is going to be a bit different. I recently came across a hard-to-find CD entitled Rock And Roll Drag Queen Tribute/The Fabulous Tranni-rock of Robbie Quine, originally released in 2005. Also included are reviews of Lady Gaga’s newest, Joanne and Kin by K.T. Tunstall.

Rock And Roll Drag Queen Tribute/The Fabulous Tranni-rock of Robbie Quine

robbiequine2_largeThis CD is so underground it’s getting hard to find. As I’ve already mentioned, it was originally released in 2005, with a re-issue in 2007. There’s practically no information about who played what on the project, except this from the very brief liner notes: “The members of Sex With Lurch, The Barbarellatones, Prancing Ponies, The Lurchettes, Brandy Warhol, Electrolux, Lady Dante, Legacy, and all drag queens everywhere, a special thanks to Von (R.I.P.).” The copyright is with Sex With Lurch Music, and that pretty much tells you that most of the musicians, albeit uncredited, are either members of Sex With Lurch, The Barbarellatones, or the other mentioned musical configurations that seem to include Robbie Quine and everyone else in that tribe of punk rockers. We’ve mentioned both Sex With Lurch and The Barbarellatones here before, but this is the first mention of Robbie Quine as a solo artist.

The project itself is quite long — 14 tunes with a bonus track. It’s punk rock in it’s seemingly purest form that would even make people like Lou Reed and The Ramones jealous. Robbie Quine is credited with writing all the tunes with the exception of some rather unusual covers.

She does a rather credible version of Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, the old bubble gum pop tune. Written by Arthur Resnick and Joey Levine, it was originally recorded and released in 1968 by The Ohio Express. Other versions have been released by The 1910 Fruitgum Company and The Archies. Another cover is  Pretty Ballerina. Originally released by The Left Banke in 1966 and written by Michael Brown, this tune has been covered by artists as diverse as Alice Cooper, Mellencamp, The Bluetones and The Dickies. Quine’s version is punked up but still familiar to the original tune.

One surprising cover is Bat Queen, which is actually the Batman TV theme song redone, as you might image, with trannies in mind. It’s also the shortest cut on the project at one minute, five seconds.

While this is an in-your-face, no holds barred punk rock project, with the musical sensibility of your average teenage garage band, it does have it’s share of truly creative moments. The most musical tracks on the project include Zombie Drag Queen (one of the overall better tunes); Sex Android (this is the best production moment, with ridiculously funny lyrics that would actually make a great video); Special Girl (the best musical structure on the project); and Tranni Train (the most non-punk tune on the entire project). The aforementioned bonus track is actually a remake of Tranny Troblodite, which comes from both Sex With Lurch and The Barbarellatones originally.

If you’re into punk, get this, if not for the music but also for the historical significance of material put out by some of the first active trans music artists.

Like I said, this is a hard to find CD. Try eBay or your local used music store.

Joanne by Lady Gaga

gaga_joanneThis is a huge departure for Lady Gaga. Not since her Cheek To Cheek project with Tony Bennett has she done something so outside her norm that it might leave some of her fans scratching their head wondering if this is really Lady Gaga they’re hearing. Honestly, though, I don’t think Gaga would care one way or another. Joanne is only her 5th studio album, but in that short period of time, Lady Gaga has reached that enviable position where she has the status and clout to do whatever the [blank] she wants. Do it she does . . . and quite well at that.

The nature of the aforementioned “departure” is that Joanne is fundamentally a rock album. Most of the tunes are rock, with the opening cut, Diamond Heart, very dynamic with one of the strongest vocal performances on the project. Dancing In Circles is one of the few exceptions, having a more lighter rock/techno feel, with a spoken word section.

Another departure is that the project is also more guitar centered than anything else that Gaga has ever released. The somewhat laid back Million Reasons is dynamic, with great lyrics and the best example of guitar usage on the CD.

Gaga also goes retro rock a few times. The best examples are Sinner’s Prayer (one of the more outstanding tunes); Come To Mama; and Just Another Day.

The outstanding tracks are the title cut, Joanne (simple rock, simple melody and a good change for Lady Gaga vocally); Perfect Illusion (more pop than rock, but the best production moment); and Angel Down. This one tune is one the most interesting things Gaga has ever recorded. It’s almost spiritual with exceptional lyrics and another great production moment. There is also a work tape version of the same song at the end of the project, with just keyboard and voice, but it’s just as powerful.

Joanne is definitely something different from Lady Gaga, but like I’ve said, I don’t think she cares and true fans won’t either.

Executive producers are Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson. Lady Gaga either wrote or co-wrote every tune. Check out the CD insert for full producer and musician credits. Also check out her website and look for her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Kin by K.T. Tunstall

kt_tunstall_kinKin by multi-instrumentalist K.T. Tunstall is also another rock CD that I wasn’t expecting to hear. With so much techno dance music out there, finding a truly gifted female singer/songwriter who has an honest-to-God rock sensibility is truly refreshing.

With little exception, Tunstall’s Kin features either lighter rock or a more 1960s retro, good times feeling. The best examples of the ’60s feel is Turned A Light On (which even gets close to a psychedelic feel); Everything Has Its Shape, and It Took Me So Long To Get Here But Here I Am (which is one of the better vocal performances on the project).

Departures from the overall rock feel on Kin are the laid back, acoustic On My Star, and the title cut Kin, which is laid back and  very orchestrated for a rock project title cut. It does show Tunstall’s range as a singer and is her best vocal performance on the project.

Kin was produced by Tony Hoffer and K.T. Tunstall is credited with writing every tune. For more information, please check out Tunstall’s website. Also Facebook, Twittter, Instagram, and Spotify.


virago_cdWell, actually next month, and this probably should be listed as “New Music.” What I’m referring to is the upcoming release of Shawna Virago’s newest, entitled Heaven Sent Delinquent. She made mention of this in her last interview a few months back, but now a release date of December 1st has been announced. Shawna herself describes the new project as: “Ten solo acoustic anti-folk storytelling song articulate escape-real or imagined-by a cast of outsiders, queer rebels and loners.”

Shawna emailed me to let me know my review copy is on it’s way. I’ll be posting that review next month, along with my annual Year End Music Buying Guide.

Shawna Virago’s Heaven Sent Delinquent on Tranimal Records will be available soon on vinyl, CD, as a download, or streaming. For more information, please check out her website.

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Category: Music, Transgender Fun & Entertainment

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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