Late last month, Bob Frank Distribution (BFD) and The Orchard partnered to re-issue a pair of albums from rocker Genya Ravan in the form of Urban Desire (1978) and its follow-up, …And I Mean It (1979). The re-issues are a great presentation for any guitar rock and rock purist regardless of a listener’s familiarity with Ravan and her music. That is proven in no small part to the albums’ musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The records’ lyrical themes are just as accessible as their musical content and will be discussed a little later, as they are important in their own way to the albums’ presentations. The record’s production rounds out their most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted plays its own important part to the whole of the albums’ presentations. All things considered these albums prove they can hold their own well against this year’s already expansive crop of music re-issues.
BFD and The Orchard’s recent re-issues of Gena Ravan’s 1978 album Urban Desire and its follow-up, 1979’s …And I Mean It are two welcome additions to this year’s field of music re-issues. They are presentations that give deserved renewed attention to Ravan and her work. That is due in absolutely no small part to their featured musical arrangements. Throughout the course of their 21 total tracks, the albums’ musical arrangements prove engaging and entertaining for any classic rock and guitar rock purist. In listening through …And I Mean It the album opens with a straight-forward, mid-tempo blues-based composition in ‘Pedal to the Metal’ whose guitars, piano and vocals are easily comparable to works from the likes of ZZ Top, Molly Hatchet and others of that ilk. As the album progresses, Ravan and her fellow musicians change things up as is evidenced immediately after in the Pat Benatar-esque ‘I Won’t Sleep On The Wet Spot No More’. Even later in the album, the much more bombastic ‘It’s Me’ conjures thoughts of so many of the bigger rock sounds of the 1970s in the best way possible. The Pat Benatar comparison rises again even later in the album in the form of ‘Love Isn’t Love’ but in its own unique fashion.
Moving on to Urban Desire, this record immediately conjures thoughts of Thin Lizzy’s hit single, ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ with its opener, “Jerry’s Pigeons.’ So yet again what audiences get in this record’s opener is even more diversity in the musical side of Ravan’s albums. The use of the sleigh bells as the song progresses obviously conjures thoughts of Christmas, interestingly, yet their addition to the song in its bridge works. Ravan and company turn the attention more to Joan Jett and the Blackhearts from there in the album’s second track, ‘The Knight Ain’t Long Enough.’ That comparison becomes even more prominent as the album progresses in the much heavier fourth track, ‘Shot In The Heart.’ Right after that, Ravan pulls an even more interesting turn in ‘Aye Co’lorado’ what with its blues-tinged sound and style. Ravan’s vocals here blend influence of Mavis Staples and Pat Benatar for a truly unique work alongside the song’s instrumentation. Things get just as interesting even later in the album in ‘Cornered.’ The bombastic opening bars of this song immediately lend themselves to comparison to the more fiery works from The Who. That fire remains throughout the song and the addition of the piano line to the whole gives the song an even more interesting identity that is sure to keep listeners engaged and entertained. Simply put, throughout the course of these two albums, their musical content is more than enough reason for audiences to take in the records, what with their vintage rock sounds that boast their own identities even with the obvious comparisons to works from so many of Ravan’s then contemporaries.
While the diversity in the albums’ musical content is reason enough for audiences to take in these records, they are just part of what listeners will find makes them engaging and entertaining. The lyrical themes that accompany the albums’ musical sides makes for its own share of interest. As audiences will note, quite a number of the songs that make up the albums’ bodies centers on the topics of love gained and lost. As a matter of fact, every song featured in Urban Desire takes on the topics in various different ways. That familiarity and the accessible fashion in which the themes are presented is certain to keep listeners engaged. The majority of the lyrical content featured in …And I Mean It is very much the same, save for its two tracks, ‘Pedal To The Metal’ and ‘I Won’t Sleep on the Wet Spot No More.’ The former comes across as a proud work celebrating her younger days while also realizing she is learning from her experiences. That is just this critic’s interpretation. The latter, meanwhile, is its own story of personal revelation and growth. It definitely stands out against the album’s opener. Keeping in mind the general familiarity of the albums’ lyrical themes and the accessibility in their delivery works with the albums’ musical content to make that overall content a collective solid foundation for the records.
The records’ production puts the finishing touch to their presentation. Considering that the albums were released right at the end of the last truly great era of music (yes, the 80s and 90s have/had great music, but the 60s and 70s were really the height for rock), the sound in these records is outstanding. That is a testament to the work put in by those charged with remastering the original recordings for their presentations here. There was clearly no loss in the transfer from the masters to CD (and even to vinyl, on which the albums are also available). The result is that in hearing these albums, it is like picking up a pair of records that came right from that age. In other words the result of the efforts to remaster the records is a welcome aesthetic aspect that when considered with the records’ overall content, makes them collectively a welcome addition to this year’s already expansive sea of music re-issues.
Bob Frank Distribution (BFD) and The Orchard’s recent re-issues of Genya Ravan’s albums, Urban Desire and …And I Mean It, are presentations that any guitar rock and vintage rock purist and fan will appreciate. That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are in large part, easily comparable to works from so many of Ravan’s well-known contemporaries from the era in which the albums were released. At the same time, the songs also boast their own unique identities, even with the comparisons and influences in mind. The lyrical themes that accompany the records’ musical content make for their own appeal because of their familiarity and the accessible fashion in which they are presented. The albums’ production rounds out their most important elements. That is because of the positive aesthetic that they give the records. Each item discussed makes the records engaging and entertaining in their own right. Collectively they make the records their own positiveadditions to this year’s field of music re-issues.
Urban Desire and …And I Mean It are available now on CD and vinyl. More information on the albums is available at https://www.bobfrankent.com/.