Thursday, 16 July 2009

women in music

Even a casual observer of the music press would have noticed a lot of column inches given over to Florence and the Machine, who are due to release their debut album this week. Female vocalists and kooky front women have been all the rave this year with Lady Gaga, La Roux and Little Boots all being ranked highly but Florence offers something different, notably the fact that there is no L at the start of her name. However, she also sings in a very ethereal manner and is quite happy to show her pants at every occasion, making her a big hit with the boys. This may sound slightly similar to an act who has gone before and it has to be said that Florence just seems like a modern version of Kate Bush.
Who can forget Kate Bush bursting onto the scene with ‘Wuthering Heights’ with the tremendous lyrics of “You had a temper like my jealousy” and it has to be said that young Florence cannot hold a candle to Kate Bush. There may be a level of hype around Florence but it has to be remembered that Kate Bush had a helping hand at the start of her career with Dave Gilmour being a key influence on her early days. Yes, that is Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame, friend of Syd Barrett and adversary of Roger Waters who helped Ms Bush break into the music scene.
Of course, with strange dance moves, unpredictable vocal range and flowery dresses, many fans may think there is a similarity between Florence and Stevie Nicks. The music of Fleetwood Mac may be far more commercial than the material released by Florence and the Machine but it does indicate that modern bands and artists wear their influences very openly.
This means that fans who weren’t even born when some of the greatest musicians were tearing up the stage can be a fan of their material and love it as much as fans at the time did. Sure, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan are all still touring and wowing live audiences but not every artist was this lucky but this hasn’t done their level of fame or fan base any difficulties.
Brian Jones’ death may still be a cause of debate and conjecture but there are many fans who insist that Keith Richards and Mick Jagger just haven’t been as potent without him. Similarly, who knows what other riffs and leads Jimi Hendrix may have conjured up if he wasn’t taken from us and even mods were robbed of a full Small Faces reunion when Steve Marriott passed away. The thing is, all of these classic rock artists are as loved today as they ever were which means that death is no barrier to commercial success or developing a strong following. In fact, in some cases, it probably helps!
In ten years time, it is hard to say if anyone will even raise an eyebrow at the mention of Florence and the Machine or recall their music but there is no doubt that the passing of some artists leaves many fans with a heavy heart.

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