Q-Music: 12 inches of queer music

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Tuesday September 12, 2023
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Q-Music: 12 inches of queer music

Our voracious music reviewer Gregg Shapiro shares new and reissued sounds from General Public, Nora Kelly Band, Veronica Swift and Worriers.

Some LGBTQ folks of a certain age are sure to remember the UK sextet General Public, and its 1984 IRS Records debut album "All The Rage" (BMG), newly reissued on vinyl for the first time since it was first released. Gay men, especially, will probably recall the band's hot front-men Dave Wakeling (who came out as bi in the 1980s) and the late Ranking Roger (who passed in 2019). The pair had previously been founding members of the groundbreaking ska band The English Beat before departing and forming General Public.

"All The Rage" incorporates both the ska influence of early English Beat songs, as well as the more pop and dance-oriented material of the English Beat's final recording "Special Beat Service" (from 1982). The most popular hits from "All The Rage," including "Tenderness," "Never You Done That," and "Hot You're Cool" leaned towards the pop and dance aspect. General Public's second album, "Hand To Mouth" (BMG) from 1984, also reissued on vinyl, didn't fare as well as its predecessor.


Nora Kelly Band is easily the coolest, queer, Canadian, country band since k.d. lang and the Reclines first appeared on the scene almost 40 years ago. "Rodeo Clown" (Mint Records), on tasty brown vinyl, honors the country tradition over the course of 10 original tunes. Talk about torch and twang! The all-queer band knows its way around pedal steel, fiddles, banjos, guitars, and keyboards. Kelly's strong vocals give songs such as "Lay Down Girl," "MMM Delicious," "Purgatory Motel," "Catch A Bone," "Roswell," and the title cut the country kick they need, boots and all.


On her new eponymous black vinyl Mack Avenue album, queer vocalist (and songwriter) Veronica Swift, who clearly has talent to burn, goes where few other artists in the jazz vocals genre would dare to tread. By performing daring jazz-influenced covers of songs by Nine Inch Nails ("Closer") and Queen ("The Show Must Go On" and "Keep Yourself Alive"), she sets out to broaden listeners' horizons, and she succeeds.

Swift's reading of Jerry Herman's "La Cage Aux Folles" anthem "I Am What I Am" swings as it never has before. She also has a flair for the dramatic that comes through on her rendition of the lovely standard "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" and her near-operatic take on Jobim's "Chega de Saudade." Originals such as "Severed Heads" (adapted from a Puccini opera) and "In the Moonlight" (adapted from a Beethoven piano sonata) further demonstrate what Swift is capable of as a lyricist and performer.


Worriers' queer lead vocalist Lauren Denitzio uses they/them pronouns, but that's not the only reason to listen to the band's new studio album "Trust Your Gut" (Ernest Jenning Record Co.). Arriving just a few months after the intimate "Warm Blanket" (on red vinyl), "Trust Your Gut" (on black vinyl) has a fuller sound with Denitzio being backed by a band. Worriers covers a full range of emotions on the songs "Hold My Breath," "I'm Not Mad," "Waste of Space," "Backyard Garden," "Anything Else," and "Losing the Thread." The rocking title cut has hit single written all over it and deserves to be heard by everyone.


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