And this week the voice of North East rock waxes lyrical about the genre’s leading ladies…and how his collection was once awash with women’s work.
Thirty years ago my record collection was liberally sprinkled with music featuring female singers.
Fleetwood Mac, with Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie in their ranks, have always been favourites of mine, I’ve loved Kate Bush from the moment I first saw her singing Wuthering Heights on Top Of The Pops and from 1977 to 1982 I bought every album Pat Benatar released.
Then there Blondie, whose singer Debbie Harry invariably featured in Sounds’ sexiest female artist along with the aforementioned trio and, of course, the delightful Sally James from Tiswas.
And let’s not forget about Abba. Show me a man in his 40s who claims he hated everything about Sweden’s Fab Four and I’ll show you a fibber.
But since those heady days, Tina Turner apart, there haven’t been too many girls who have infiltrated the higher echelons of rock music.
Shania Twain and Alanis Morissette have released hugely successful albums but the rock genre has essentially remained a male bastion, both in terms of its output and its followers.
But this year, it’s a little bit different. Indeed, if I was to compile my top ten albums of 2011, two would feature girl singers and another group with a female vocalist would probably squeeze into my top 20,
Dutch gothic rock band Within Temptation have been around since the mid-90s but made a major breakthrough on the Continent four years ago with the album The Heart of Everything and this year’s excellent The Unforgiving has sold more than three million copies worldwide and the single Faster has enjoyed frequent airplay on Radio Two.
Singer Sharon den Adel, who combines fronting the band with being a full-time mother, has a voice which at times reminds me of Benatar – raucous yet melodic, powerful yet laced with feminine charm.
Stevie Nicks’ haunting vocals are among the most distinctive in music. Songs such as Rhiannon, Gold Dust Women, Sara, Dreams and Landslide are such Nicks trademarks, they’d probably sound ordinary sung by anyone else.
Nicks’ solo career has been mixed. I loved The Other Side of the Mirror but not all her releases scaled such heights until this year’s wonderfully evocative In Your Dreams, a worthy contender for album of the year.
The voice remains as mellow and enchanting as it did in 1975 when she joined Mac along with her then-lover Lindsey Buckingham and the song Cheaper than Free, in which she collaborates with Dave Stewart, is the most beautiful I’ve heard in a long time.
An album which has hit me right between the eyes and which I’ve played relentlessly since buying it last month is Saint Jude’s Diary Of A Soul Friend.
The band’s ever-increasing fan club includes Jimmy Page and Ronnie Wood and it’s not hard to understand why because the album has strands of Led Zeppelin, the Faces and Rolling Stones running through it.
A combination of blues, classic rock and power pop, the songwriting is of the highest order but it is singer Lynne Jackaman’s stunning delivery which makes this such a fine debut release.
Saint Jude’s popularity is growing after eyecatching performances at High Voltage and Sonisphere this summer and in Jackaman, they have arguably the best female rock singer to emerge in the past decade.
I’ve lent the album to several friends – none of whom had ever heard of Saint Jude beforehand – and to a man, they’ve been blowing away by its content. Buy it – you will not be disappointed.
Next week, I’ll be waxing lyrical about Britney Spears, Kate Perry and Beyonce. Then again………