Q-Music: Say gay all year playlist

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Tuesday October 17, 2023
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Q-Music: Say gay all year playlist

Anyone who has been listening to and following queer musician Meshell Ndegeocello's compelling music career, from her early '90s hit single "If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night)," the political statement of "Leviticus: Faggot," and the breathtaking "Bitter" album, through her vast and varied 21st-century sonic explorations, know that her output is anything but predictable or dull.

"The Omnichord Real Book" (Blue Note), Ndegeocello's first album of all original tunes since 2014's "Comet, Come To Me," continues her longstanding tradition of being musically daring. Featuring a mind-blowing roster of guest musicians, including Joan As Police Woman, Jason Moran, Jeff Parker, and Josh Johnson, to name a few, the album leans into jazz with a warm and welcoming embrace. The sound throughout is equal parts timeless and forward-thinking, soulful and soul-stirring.

Meshell Ndegeocello performs at SF Jazz's Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin St., with special guests Oct. 27-29. $30-$105. www.sfjazz.org www.meshell.com

The late (and sorely missed) George Michael wasn't officially or publicly out when he and Andrew Ridgeley were topping the '80s pop charts as Wham!. But anyone with a functioning pair of eyes (and reliable gaydar) knew the scoop.

Michael's solo career, which included a Grammy Award for the "Faith" album, completely overshadowed Wham!, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't deserve to be remembered.

Available in multiple formats, including a double LP vinyl set, "Wham! The Hit Singles: Echoes From The Edge of Heaven" (Sony Music) compiles 11 hit singles, including the nearly flawless "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," as well as "Freedom," "Everything She Wants," and a respectful cover of Was (Not Was)'s "Where Did Your Heart Go?"

Embarrassing Brit-pop raps including "Wham Rap!" and "Young Guns (Go For It)," don't sink the project, but neither do they do much to promote Wham!'s early days. A second LP of B-sides and remixes completes the package. It's the perfect way to keep the music playing after watching the Wham! doc on Netflix. www.sonymusic.co.uk

Gay singer/songwriter and TikTok sensation Jordy is feeling all his feelings on his sophomore album "Boy" (300). Songs such as "I Get High," "Good Not Great," "IDK SH!T," are both cathartic for the singer, and a message to listeners that they are not alone in their struggles, mental health-wise and others.

Such openness may be off-putting to some, but Jordy's delivery makes the songs feel authentic and unforced. "Story of a Boy," Jordy's interpolation of Nine Days' "Story of a Girl" (with the band's blessing) sounds like it could be a summertime hit single. www.jordy.lnk.to/BOY

For every racist country music malignancy such as Jason Aldean, there's an Orville Peck or a Paisley Fields. "Limp Wrist" (Don Giovanni Records), Paisley Fields' latest full-length album, available on bright red vinyl, is exceptional, and not just because it features gay porn star Levi Karter as the cover model.

An Iowa native, Paisley Fields' deeply personal and powerful song "Iowa," co-written with trans singer/songwriter Mya Byrne is a must; a queer country take on Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy," if you will. The rural queer experience also comes through on "Dial Up Lover," "Black Hawk County Line," "Jesus Loving American Guy (Limp Wrist)," "Tomorrow Finds A Way," and "Plastic Rosary." Paisley Fields also flirts with the dancefloor on "Flex." www.thepaisleyfields.com

You can learn a lot about a singer/songwriter by the songs they choose to cover. So, what do we learn about the three singer/songwriters — trans artist Cidny Bullens, Deborah Holland, and Wendy Waldman -- who comprise The Refugees on their new album "California" (Wabuho)?

First, they have great taste in music with their respectable interpretations of songs by The Mamas and the Papas ("Monday Monday"), the Beach Boys ("Sail On Sailor"), The Flying Burrito Brothers ("Sin City"), Buffalo Springfield ("For What It's Worth"), Sly and the Family Stone ("Stand"), Crosby, Stills & Nash ("Carry On"), and the Byrds ("So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star").

Second, they can stick to a theme, which is a set of songs originally performed by musical acts with connections to California. www.therefugeesmusic.com

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