Saturday, February 28, 2009

Now is the time to address the subject of Mrs. Jade Tweed.

I must admit I haven't been taking too much interest in the rolling saga of Jade's health as

a) I could give a shit
b) one gets so used to the Heat/OK/Hello/Closer/Pigbreeder's Gazette shock horror headlines of JORDAN IN HAIR-SPRAY ADDICTION HORROR!

But allegedly Jade has actually put down a payment on the farm and placed the bucket in a good position to be booted. Which is sad for her family and friends to say nothing of the editorial staff of many redtops and scandal sheets.

But as we are being forced to take an opinion on her death too, what is the response to be?

I had an illuminating conversation with Andrew about it last week. Now Andrew can always be relied upon to bring an individual slant to any subject and suggested that if Tracey Emin can make a living out of recycling her life experience why not Jade? Why is it acceptable for John Diamond and Oscar Moore to be given weekly columns in broadsheets to discuss their imminent deaths while Jade is considered to be
de trop? Indeed Diamond's demise gave rise to the phenomenon of Nigella Lawson: grieving widow morphing into full-breasted Domestic Goddess - so I could kill him on that score alone.

Of course the answer is viewed through veils of class - Jade is a creation of celebrity culture who has happily given her life over to 24/7 access all areas coverage whereas the chattering class culture represented by Diamond and Moore are leaving us with - ahem - bodies of work which will live on as reflections in the shadows of mortality.

My take on it is that here we have a person who has risen from nowhere to celebrity, championed as "one of us" by her admirers and by her detractors as a living embodiment of the worst excesses of the crass dumbing-down of society - the glorification of ignorance and dead-eyed calculation. But now her imminent demise has galvanised public opinion into making her a beloved heroine for the masses.

JADITA anyone?
But this week something happened to maybe change the dynamic of Jadita's story. Wendy Richard died from the cancer that she battled for 13 years with no fanfare, no exclusive deals, no spotlight. The fact that Wendy Richard was in the public eye was down to 45 years hard work as an actress who along the way created two memorable characters in iconic BBC TV shows. And it wasn't like she didn't have a sad upbringing. Her father committed suicide when she was 11 and Wendy discovered the body.

Needless to say as soon as the news of her demise was announced Max Clifford announced that Wendy Richard had been in contact with Jade, giving her support and love.

It does rather suggest a desperation to keep her story in the forefront. I had heard that after Jade's marriage to her scally toyboy that she would retire from the limelight, her greatest wish come true. But now she intends to be christened with her two sons aged 4 and 5 at a local church and have a huge party afterwards. Oh and be interviewed for a tv special by Piers Morgan.

Enough already.

I used to joke that it surely wasn't long before we had a new reality show called CELEBRITY AUTOPSY... have you noticed these things happen by degrees?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Now this is absurd....

Not only is the mahoosive Virgin store in New York closing in April but their last store in Union Square is closing in May.

Where can I spend money I don't have now??

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

See I can be calm when I want to be...
In January there was an all-star reading of Stephen Sondheim's A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC in New York with Natasha Richardson as 'Desiree' and real-life mum Vanessa Redgrave as her on-stage mother 'Mme. Armfeldt".

It's been reported in the New York Post that they enjoyed the experience - as did Sondheim - so much that they are looking to appear in an actual production of the show, probably in 2010.

Even I know there's ten months till the new year so there's no point in getting excited just yet.

Just yet.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Working the red carpet... and on her way to a deserved, overdue Academy Award for Best Actress, all hail the Winslet.
to Penelope Cruz for winning the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Woody Allen's VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA - she now joins the list of Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest and Mira Sorvino who all previously won Oscars under his direction.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Well as I had such a piss poor year of going to the filums I am next to useless in predicting any of the Academy Awards - so how's about my Top 5 previous winners?

Best Actor
I have seen 51 out of the 81 winners so this is a tough job. Not
surprisingly four are for acting at it's most showiest! In alphabetical order...
Marlon Brando (The Godfather)
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Robert De Niro (Raging Bull)
Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of The Lambs)
Paul Scofield (A Man For All Seasons)

Best Actress
Ah now better numbers here... I have seen 58 out of the 81 winners so much tougher... in alphabetical order
Jodie Foster (The Silence of The Lambs)
Vivien Leigh (Gone With The Wind)
Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Liza Minnelli (Cabaret)
Elizabeth Taylor (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)

Best Supporting Actor
I have seen 45 out of the 72 winners so in alphabetical order...
Joel Grey (Cabaret)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Joe Pesci (Good Fellas)
George Sanders (All About Eve)
Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects)

Best Supporting Actress
... and out of 72 winners I have seen 54, in alphabetical order:
Ingred Bergman (Murder on the Orient Express)
Hattie McDaniel (Gone With The Wind)
Tatum O'Neal (Paper Moon)
Vanessa Redgrave (Julia)
Maggie Smith (California Suite)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Pet Shop Boys' fab video for LOVE ETC. Boing!!!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yes I got them... Block 102, about halfway down the left side of the O2.

I'm quite looking forward to it. Actually.
I have been working for the past five days at the old job in Borehamwood while the boss was away en vacance so what better way to celebrate my last day - I have had so many with that company - than happily being Owen's +1 for Marianne Faithfull's secret gig at St. Luke's Church in Old Street. He won them in a MySpace competition.

The last time I saw her in concert was in 2005! Her
successful battle against breast cancer and her rest cure during 2008 means she has played only a handful of dates in Europe so it was good to see her again. She looks great, slimmed-down and in good voice.

The gig itself was being filmed by the BBC so that, combined with this being the first live airing of the songs from her new EASY COME, EASY GO covers album, cast a somewhat jittery atmosphere with several missed cues for her and the band, and indeed two songs had to be filmed again at the end of the gig.

I had fears when the first screw-up occurred that the night might descend into the debacle that was her 2002 Barbican Hall gig when the sound went wrong at the start which threw her completely and from which she never really recovered but she pulled it together tonight by her innate charm and several glares at members of the band. The band actually sounded great - a wonderful full sound - but sometimes to the detriment to Marianne's vocals.
We were treated to some old favourites sprinkled among the new tracks: TIMES SQUARE, THE BALLAD OF LUCY JORDAN, BROKEN ENGLISH, SISTER MORPHINE (twice!), WHY D'YA DO IT, CRAZY LOVE and a fab version of AS TEARS GO BY with the 1960s pop arrangement which sounded great.

Among the new ones I recognised Morrissey's DEAR GOD PLEASE HELP ME (of all the Moz songs she had to cover this one?), Bessie Smith's EASY COME EASY GO BLUES (great) and Billie Holliday's SOLITUDE (a bit unfocussed).
Checking the album's tracklist - it's not released here until next month - I reconize Dolly Parton's DOWN FROM DOVER (very good), Neko Case's HOLD ON HOLD ON (played it twice and both times I couldn't hear her for the band!), Randy Newman's IN GERMANY BEFORE THE WAR (excellent - especially with the band's Kit Kat Orchestra MACK THE KNIFE intro), Merle Haggard's SING ME BACK HOME (very effective) and Jackson C. Frank's KIMBIE (ok). I am looking forward to hearing the album proper.

Marianne arrounced she will be at the Festival Hall in July so that is definitely going to be booked as soon as. Oh and speaking of shows being booked...

I think a reason I wasn't absolutely blown away by tonight was the total bollocks of getting into the church. Our names were on a guestlist held by posh Andrew who is now part of Online Team Marianne. We got there just after six we were told to get there a bit early for the 6.30 doors open as these things are always over-subscribed. We joined the small queue and waited. And waited. And waited. A woman appeared asking for critics and record company guest list people to queue separately. And we waited. And we waited. We finally got in at 7.15 and were shunted quickly up to the balcony, no doubt in case we came into contact with any of the beknighted people on the other guest list.

Bearing that in mind, when I got home Owen called, alerting me that a certain group that I am a paying fan club member of had announced a gig which was going onsale on Friday. And that their was an exclusive pre-sale on Thursday. How exclusive? It is e-mailed out to the promotor's e-mail list and the pre-sale is linked to on the groups website. Gee, that's exclusive.

So you pay to join this fan club thing and get no advance warning of gigs and you get tickets as a fan to gigs where the organizers leave you queuing for hours and then shunt you like so much condemned veal to your designated 'area'.

Now say what you like about Madonna but at least the Icon fan group has a designated pre-sale three days before the general onsale starts and long-term members *bows* are even given a few hours headstart before the rest of the membership.

I'll still be there tomorrow of course, left to my own devices pressing the 'refresh' button at 11.59am, to get the pre-sale tickets but I still think it's a lousy way of rewarding support.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Last night Owen and I stepped back in time and paid a call to an unmarried mother, a feral young thug and a right-wing gay businessman - oh and while we were there we watched an old man get kicked to death. Things weren't that much different in 1964 were they?

Yes you guessed... we were ENTERTAINING MR. SLOANE by Joe Orton at the Trafalgar Studios, my first visit there since it was converted from the old Whitehall Theatre.
It was my second journey to Ortonland this year after seeing the slightly underwhelming production of LOOT at the Tricycle but Nick Bagnall's production was totally on the money, not just concentrating on the grotesquerie but on the underlying sense of fear and loathing.

I have never seen it on stage before but that's because I could never believe Beryl Reid's performance in the film could ever be equalled. However Imelda Staunton now shows there is room for more than one Kath in my mind.
From the moment she shows the young, amoral Mr. Sloane (Matthew Horne, I am sure Orton would have relished the irony) the grotty living room of the house she shares with her aged, crotchety dada Kemp (Richard Bremmer), Staunton's Kath is almost trembling with lust at the thought of Sloane taking the place of her long-lost boyfriend who once got her pregnant.

Enter Ed (the wondrous Simon Paisley Day) her businessman brother who soon is also lusting over the young bit of rough. Ed has never forgiven his sister for seducing his best friend into bed all those years ago and doesn't want history to repeat itself. But soon there are two problems - Kemp remembers Sloane as the last person seen with his murdered boss and Kath announcing she's pregnant!

I was a little worried as with LOOT that Orton's play would have dated but not at all. Simple-minded women are still wanting babies as proof
they are loved, there are still bad lads who will happily do anything to get by with absolutely no moral compass, OAPs are still getting murdered, immigrants are still the object of hatred... and men are still perving over lads that they can keep by flashing their money around.

The dank, dowdy atmosphere of Kemp's isolated house is wonderfully conveyed by Peter McKintosh's design with it's peeling wallpaper and cluttered surfaces and the atmosphere is also well conveyed with the cloying tones of Jim Reeves and - yay! - Kathy Kirby.

The only wrong note is probably the reason the production got on stage - "Gavin and Stacey"s Matthew Horne is totally one-note and wooden. He doesn't seem to be able to revel in the juicyness of Sloane's amoral soul and barks his lines up & out to the back row as if he has never been told how to project.

His woefulness is thrown into sharp relief by the quality of performance around him. Richard Bremmer turns Kemp into a character as crumbling and dessicated as any in Beckett and actually to give him credit, Horne does make his final confrontation with the feeble Kemp into a genuinely chilling scene.

Simon Paisley Day as Ed is a pure delight, he plays the role like a spiv Terry-Thomas!
Ramrod straight and buttoned down, chain-smoking as he bristles with anger and itchy with lust, he punctuates his speech with an odd laugh, half-snort, half-sneer. We never find out what Ed actually does, we only know he's 'in business' but Day suggests a world of clandestine meetings in new towns and dodgy dealings in anonymous travel-lodges.

His misogynist rants at his sister as he fights over the - soul? - of Mister Sloane are spat out with a disgusted venom that sizzles - needless to say they are screamingly funny. The remarkable thing is the way Day fleshes out Ed so you can feel his unhappiness at his dad not speaking to him for 20 years. An excellent performance.

As Simon Paisley Day makes Ed a 3 dimensional figure so does Imelda Staunton as Kath. Yes the outrageousness is still there with her unashamed flaunting in her see-through negligee to do her knitting and those killer lines are delivered with the timing of death:

"I've had the upbringing a nun would envy. Until the age of fifteen I was more familiar with Africa than my own body.

But she also delved deeper than caricature to find moments that were genuinely touching as when Ed brusquely tells her he burnt her only photo & letter from her long-dead lover and when she asserts herself against Ed to lay claim to half of Sloane's life.

But above all it was a fantastic comedy performance, full of invention and "business" and she can deliver the great Orton dialogue to perfection - that dialogue that usually is deliberately exaggerated, the characters using 'refined' phraseology to cover the tawdriness of their situation or surroundings, always trying to impress an unseen world.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Last night I went to the pictures! Yes actually to a Cinematograph. And they have talking pictures and Everything! As you can tell, it's been a while. Andrew accompanied me just in case the experience was just too overwhelming. We went to see Stephen Daldrey's film THE READER which has won Kate Winslet seven acting awards so far with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress yet to be announced. There is more to the film than our Kate. But not much.Germany 1958. Michael (David Kross), aged 15, is taken ill on the street and is helped by an anonymous woman in her mid-thirties (Kate Winslet). After recovering from scarlet fever he returns to the woman's flat to thank her but when he sees her undressing he runs away. On a later visit he helps the woman move coal to her upstairs flat. After he bathes she seduces him and soon they are meeting regularly in the flat establishing a routine of Michael reading to her from his school books followed by some love-making.

Michael knows nothing about her except her name is Hanna and she works as a conductor on the city trams.
They even manage a weekend in the country, they visit a remote church where Michael watches as Hanna becomes emotional listening to a school choir at the altar. On their return, Hanna is told by her boss that she is being promoted to an office job. Michael visits the flat to find it deserted and is disconsolate at Hanna's disappearance.In 1966 Michael is studying law at university. His Professor invites his students to witness a trial of six female SS Guards who escorted a death march of prisoners from Auschwitz in 1944 and later did nothing as the prisoners died in a burning church. He is shocked to see Hanna is one of the accused. During the trial he learns that Hanna Schmitz left a promising job at Siemens to join the SS soon after the war started and while at Auschwitz joined in with the other guards in selecting new prisoners to be sent to their death.

Michael also is poleaxed to hear that she would select certain weak or puny prisoners to read to her before sending them also to their deaths. The other guards have said that Hanna was the author of an SS report into the prisoners deaths and when the judge demands a sample of her writing, Hanna admits to writing the report. By now Michael has realised the secret that Hanna has
let rule and ruin her life but he does nothing to intercede on her behalf and she is sentenced to life instead of the ten year imprisonment.
An adult Michael (Ralph Fiennes) is haunted by his relationship with Hanna and after his divorce, he discovers his old books at the family home. He narrates them onto tapes and sends them regularly to Hanna in prison. Hanna uses the tapes to finally learn to read and write, borrowing the relevant books from the library and learning each word as she hears them. As Hanna's release date nears, Michael is contacted as her only correspondent and he agrees to meet her again. But is redemption at hand - and for who?

I loved Daldrey's last film THE HOURS and he is here reunited with David Hare who adapted that literary work for the screen. However for me, lightning didn't strike twice. The film moves at a
frustratingly funereal pace and it certainly isn't helped by the lugubrious performance of Ralph Fiennes. Yes it certainly captures Michael's frozen spiritual deadness but it goes nowhere and there are several occasions when a possible ending is swerved past as Fiennes' limpid gaze stares into the mid-distance some more.Another major problem was that I could not believe that David Kross could grow into Ralph Fiennes as they are quite dissimilar. This is certainly not the fault of Kross who gives an excellent performance, sympathetic and involving and it's a shame he has been left out of the award-giving.

There is another performance too which is worthy of serious praise. Lena Olin appears twice, first in the courtroom as an old woman who survived the church fire and towards the end of the film as her grown daughter who Michael meets in New York. In this short scene Lena Olin shows what an excellent actress she is, flinty and defiant as Michael's seeks 'closure' for Hanna.

There are also fine supporting performances from Bruno Ganz as the law professor, Burghart Klaussner as the trial judge and Linda Bassett as the prison outreach officer who contacts Michael about Hanna's release.
But it's Kate Winslet's film all the way. She has always conveyed a depth and interior life to her screen characters but here she makes Hanna a fascinating enigma. Even in the much-publicised sex scenes in the first section of the film it is marvellous how she can be seen to bare all but at the same time her face and body language show that she is still wary and guarded. Hanna is at the mercy of a secret that she will do anything to avoid being detected and Kate Winslet captures perfectly the character's inner turmoil. You can understand how Hanna would blend into her environment to avoid being detected - be it as a factory worker, a tram conductor or an SS guard.

The film has been much criticised for daring to suggest that an SS guard should be portrayed in a sympathetic light but I am not sure that was Daldrey's intention. It is based on a German novel after all and is more concerned with the responses of the German post-war generation to the country's recent past. Surely what is endlessly fascinating about Hitler's Germany is that it's worse excesses were carried out by ordinary men and women?

I just wish I enjoyed the film more.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Monday, for his special treat. I went with Owen to see Lee Hall's play THE PITMEN PAINTERS at the Lyttleton. The play has come back into the National's repertoire after being a sell-out hit at the smaller Cottesloe last year. The play also won Hall the Evening Standard Award for Best Play.

I wasn't familiar with the real-life story that the play is based on. In 1934 a
group of Ashington miners requested through the Workers' Educational Association for an arts professor to teach them art appreciation. Robert Lyon struggled through an introductory lesson with slides of renaissance art to a nonplussed audience until it was suggested each man should do a lino-cut for the next lesson so they could 'learn by doing'.

Soon they graduated to painting scenes from their lives and slowly their self-taught canvasses were being feted by collectors and known artists with exhibitions both here and abroad. The play started off feeling like a typical class (in all senses of the word) comedy where the miners and teacher clash with vocabularies and outlook which made me wonder for most of the first half why exactly it was so successful.
But Hall's point-of-view came into sharper focus as the play moved into the period where the paintings start gaining a life outside of the community hall classroom. As their confidence grows artistically so the miners' confidence grows mentally and a visit to the Tate in London binds them together in a unique way when they see the work of Van Gogh.

Soon the Group and, in particular the most feted of them Oliver Kilbourn, find themselves wondering when does patronage become merely patronising. They publicly rebuke their teacher at a gallery launch when they take umbrage at being grouped together as a 'type' of painter, they argue amongst themselves as to what is valid art and more importantly Kilbourn rejects the patronage of a
wealthy art collector as he ultimately cannot believe that he can make a living from painting.The Group's doubts are justified when the wealthy would-be patron decides that Modernism is last year's thing and moves onto ceramics and more importantly. are angered when Lyon tells them he is leaving to take up an important job in Scotland, a job that he won by writing a dissertation on his work with them.

Although the Group actually stretched to double figures, Hall has used dramatic licence to focus on five of them. He presents both sides of the argument - you can understand the art patron Helen Sutherland's accusation about the narrow-sightedness of their artistic vision and Lyon's rage at Kilbourn's lack of courage but Hall is definitely on the side of the miners and the play ends with them on the cusp of the new dawn of the post-war Labour government's nationalisation of the mining industry. After their struggle to establish a vision and a purpose to their lives apart from their worth as mining workers it is sadly bittersweet when the play's final moments have them singing a hymn to solidarity as titles flash onto screens reminding us of the failure of future governments to secure their industry and the dropping of Clause IV from the Labour Party's manifesto.
It all sounds a bit heavy and worthy but it is actually a hugely enjoyable play which gives you plenty to think about while also entertaining you with plenty of funny lines and memorable characters.

The production was originally staged in Newcastle's Live Theatre and the small company of actors are giving as a good an ensemble performance as the over-lauded AUGUST:OSAGE COUNTY. Ian Kelly gives a good performance as the enigmatic teacher Robert Lyon, giving plenty of shade to the character's joy and frustration with the men - he is also handy with charcoal himself as he draws a sketch onstage each night which is for sale afterwards in the bookshop! The miners are vividly played by Deka Walmsley, Brian Lonsdale and Michael Hodgson and I particularly enjoyed David Whitaker as Jimmy Floyd, especially in the nice comic scene where he shows his painting of a vase of flowers to the wealthy art patron and explains that the net curtain isn't particularly good as they haven't been taught how to do "see-through" yet.

There are nice performances by Lisa McGrillis as a young shopgirl who causes an uproar among the men when Lyon hires her to pose naked for a life study class and Philippa Wilson as the wealthy collector Helen Sutherland who gives the men the opportunity to experience galleries and modern art but who leaves them for new artistic pastures.
However the performance of the evening is from Christopher Connel as Oliver Kilbourn. He perfectly captures the struggle within Kilbourn, a man who slowly learns not only the method of painting but also the vocabulary and the confidence to express it while at the same time crippled by his background and class to take advantage of his gift.

There is a small exhibition in the Lyttleton circle foyer of the Group's work so now is a perfect time to catch this enjoyable and thought-provoking play.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Last night I made my first visit to the Electric Ballroom since 2001 - no wonder I was surprised it was bigger than I remembered. I saw Amanda Palmer for the fourth time in a solo show (seventh if you count her appearances as The Dresden Dolls with Brian).

Amanda has had an odd year. She released her first solo album on a suitably indie label which was well-received but, through her blogs, we have followed problems that have arisen. Because of a legal problem she has been out-of-pocket since the album's release and she has been frustrated by the record company's intransigence at promoting her, going so far as to say that she was too fat in one of her videos and asking her to reshoot it - and now she has more tsouris as her video for upcoming single OASIS has been banned by channels such as NME TV, Kerrang, MTV, Q and The Box - and why? The reason? "making light of rape, religion and abortion'".
The song - almost theatrically poppy, Brill Buildingesque - is sung by a girl who gets raped at a party and then gets hassle from fundamentalist Christians picketing the abortion clinic - but all she's interested in is that she's not only got tickets to see Blur but Oasis sent her a signed picture! What is absurd about this censoring is that it's from companies who are no doubt happy to screen gangsta rap videos in their "urban" programming which glorify gang violence or the 'dance' videos that objectify women as tits 'n' arse. The ultimate hilaire is that the track has been played on the BBC. Yes. The BBC.

Needless to say Amanda addressed this in the gig, making the valid point that if she had recorded it as an introspective brooding ballad - eg. playing the victim card - then no one would have blinked an eye. As she said "
When you cannot joke about the darkness of life, that's when the darkness takes
over". She then preceded to play the song as the dirge... then laughed and launched into a great clap-a-long, singalong version!
It was good to see her again although the show seemed a bit all over the place - the auction of a painting of Amanda to raise money for her supporting troupe The Danger Ensemble - they tour with her without pay - really should have been at the start of the encores rather than slap-bang in the middle of the show killing the momentum. Mind you, it was bought for £400 so way to go to the generous punter!

I've said it before but I don't know any other artist who has such a close connection with her fanbase than Amanda - and it's a genuinely mutual connection not one of these record company offices that sends out the odd e-mail. The show culminated with two gay guys being invited up on stage as one wanted to spring a proposal to the other to roars of approval and one of the Danger Ensemble appearing as a prissy Kate Perry miming to *that* song before being jumped and forcibly attacked by a ravenously horny Amanda. Afterwards we hung around the merch counter wondering should we stay and get her to sign the pictures of us of her at Bush Hall when a security guard appeared, guiding Amanda to a table behind us - so we were first in the queue - Yayee!
Thanks to Flckr contributors for the photos by the way.

Here's the OASIS video - as Patti Smith growled at the Roundhouse in 2007 "You're not afraid of a fuckin' pop song are you?"

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Don't look up there Madonna... I'm over here.... Front row of Block 112, prompt side of the 02 stage!


Oh yes. 4th July can't come quick enough.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The view from my front door this morning. Innit lovely?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

My February Legend is the truly wonderful Chris Clark. Back in the 1970s when I started buying Motown albums the inner sleeves would have illustrations of other releases and one fascinated me as it seemed so out of place, a blonde Kim Novak lookalike in a black sequined dress - she didn't appear on any of my Motown Chartbusters albums and there were no records available - so who was Chris Clark?

It was only in the 1990s, when perusing a new Motown compilation cd, I saw that it included "From Head To Toe" by Chris Clark - I couldn't pay for it quick enough! After that I managed to land a European cd release of that long-lost album SOUL SOUNDS and my musical world was rocked - here was a seriously under-rated singer, very similar to Dusty with a throaty growl. Although never particularly successful in the charts she built up a big cult following particularly on the Northern Soul scene.

After only two albums she settled into an executive role with the company when it moved to LA and even won an Academy Award nomination for co-writing the LADY SINGS THE BLUES script. She married the FRENCH CONNECTION scriptwriter Ernest Tidyman and since his death has concentrated on being a photographic and digital artist, still playing the occasional gig.

She appeared at a Motown Weekender a few years ago in the north of England where she wowed the faithfull - and endeared herself to them by taking a photo of them from the stage!