BOOK REVIEW: Classic Albums By Women

The art of listening to an album—front to back—is in some ways, a lost one. At least, this is what Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy believed when she founded Classic Album Sundays, a worldwide podcast and website made specifically for album lovers that features filmed interviews with artists, stories behind classic albums, curated playlists and more.

“I founded Classic Album Sundays in 2010 as a response to a societal disposition that I felt was devaluing music, the act of listening and the significance of my beloved album format,” she writes in the introduction to the new book, Classic Albums By Women, released by Classic Album Sundays and ACC Art Books.

Conversely, Murphy noted the devaluing of the albums of women musicians despite their manifest, and emotionally resonant, contributions. So, a few weeks before International Women’s Day in 2018, Murphy set out to highlight those women-made albums with a social media campaign.

“I came up with the last-minute idea to ask our friends in the world of music to nominate their favorite album by a female musicians by taking a ‘selfie’ of themselves holding up their chosen album, and giving an account as to why that album held such personal importance,” she wrote.

Murphy received over 100 entries, and eventually, those entries turned into the 200-page “Classic Albums By Women,” which features the album picks of music industry players from across generations and genres.

Elsa Hill, DJ from Worldwide FM, holding her favorite women-made album.

While reading the book, you may not immediately recognize the name of every curator—but Classic Albums by Women contains the views of some industry heavyweights. For instance, Michael Kurtz, the co-founder of the ever-popular Record Store Day, contributes his pick.

“I have so many favourite albums by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Regina Spektor (to name a few), but right now the album that demands my attention and makes me see the world differently is Rabbit Hole by Mindy Gledhill,” he writes in the book.

Additionally, the music critic at the Daily Telegraph, Neil McCormick, vouches for Beyonce’s Lemonade. He notes, “Female musicians have been undervalued, undermined and underpromoted ever since there has been a music business…There has never been so much great music by woman as there is right now. Beyonce is a towering start making shape-shifting, genre-busting R&B hip-hop pop with depth and purpose.”

The book also highlights how the albums of women inspired new generations of women to pursue music-making.

Peter Hook of Joy Division/New Order, with his favorite album by a woman.

“I remember the first time I heard [Carole King’s] Tapestry,” writes musician KT Tunstall. “It became my song-writing bible; a masterclass in how to remain strong and vulnerable in equal measure.”

Likewise, as DJ/producer Honey Dijon writes about her pick, Island Life by Grace Jones: “Grace Jones is the reason I felt free enough to become an artist,” she writes.

Overall, this little book—perfect for quick, casual coffee table thumb-through or a more thorough read before an album listening session—is a great way to learn more about your favorite artists, and learn about some new women that have impacted people along the way. The long list of curators involved with the book also provide a tether to the worldwide, album-loving community so you can find your next favorite podcast or music journalist. Most importantly, Classic Albums by Women is a towering testament to the power women artists have had, and continue to have over listeners of all walks of life.

Classic Albums by Women is available on Amazon or through the publisher, ACC Art Books.

NEWS ROUNDUP: LGBTQ Love Songs, Cardi B & More

NEWS ROUNDUP: Gender Bending Love Songs, Cardi B & More

By Jasmine Williams

Wedding Dances For All!

What do Bob Dylan, Kesha, St. Vincent, Kele Okereke, Ben Gibbard, and Valerie June have in common? All six musicians contributed gender-reversed cover songs to a new EP called Universal Love. In the goal of providing wedding ditties for the LGBTQ community, the compilation reimagines love songs so that they feature same-sex objects of desires. Dylan substitutes she for he in “He’s Funny that Way” while Kesha, an ordained minister who has married two gay couples, transforms a song by her idol, Janis Joplin. Listen to “I Need A Woman To Love” below.

Cardi B’s New Album Drops

Cardi B was the undisputed break-out star of last year Her meteoric rise to the top was the result of a perfect storm of millenial money moves – a reality tv show, a massive Instagram following, a lack of filters (during a red carpet interview she told Guiliana Rancic that she had butterflies in her stomach and vagina), the ability to make everything seem candidly cute (even gang spelling substitutions), and of course, sick verses. Most importantly, she’s become the figurehead of a new feminist archetype: the bad bitch.

Today, the reigning queen of hip-hop is back with a new album. Invasion of Privacy is out now and despite many months of rumors and fake-outs, the LP’s release early this morning still managed to surprise fans – songs featuring her fellow slighted Grammy nominee, SZA, and Chance the Rapper are welcome, if unexpected, additions to massive hits like “Cartier Bardi” and “Bodak Yellow.”

Cardi will make cable history on Monday when she hosts The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. It will be the first time that the television staple features two MCs.

New This Week

The ladies own this week’s new releases! Audiofemme favorites, Zola Jesus, Tart, and Kim Anderson all delivered today. Earlier this week Zola debuted a new video in anticipation of today’s release of bonus and remix album, Okovi: Additions. Listen to Tart’s new track, “Like Lovers Do,” and check out Ashley Prillaman’s interview with Anderson on her debut album, Yarrow.

Azealia Banks debuted “Anna Wintour,” the first complete song off of her long-awaited album Fantasia II. We also heard new tracks from Washed Out, Rae Sremmurd, and A$AP Rocky this week. A$AP’s offering is a new “collaboration” with Moby. The techno pioneer doesn’t contribute anything new for the song “A$AP Forever,” but his late nineties hit “Porcelain” is sampled. Perhaps the credit marks a shift in the song-writing industry – “Blurred Lines,” anyone?

Coming Soon

With exciting announcements coming from various ends of the music spectrum, this week proves to be an exercise in delayed gratification. Live From Here, the variety show formerly know as A Prairie Home Companion, comes to NYC for three Town Hall Shows later this month, featuring Sufjan Stevens, Janeane Garofalo, Courtney Barnett, Neko Case, Father John Misty and more.

Sonic Youth legend Kim Gordon revealed the July 13th release date for Body/Head’s upcoming album.

The Coathangers, The Get Up Kids, and Arctic Monkeys also joined the promo parade this week: The Coathangers’ upcoming album LIVE condenses two nights of refreshingly raucous rock into one electric LP and is out June 1st; after a 7-year hiatus, The Get Up Kids debuted the first single, “Maybe,” from new EP The Kicker, out June 8th; coming off of a slightly shorter break, Arctic Monkeys spilled the details on their new album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, which is out May 11th and is the band’s first album in five years.

Last but not least, the indomitable Grace Jones gets the documentary treatment next week. For Bloodlight and Bami, director Sophie Fiennes was granted intimate access to Jones’ life and even trailed the boundary-pushing performer on a trip to her native Jamaica. You can watch the doc on April 13th.

A couple of days later, score tickets to see more music legends on the big screen. The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine will be back in theaters in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the film.

But for those who can’t wait for their next music film fix, Flatbush Zombies and The Shins both premiered long music videos this week. For even more clips, check out Desdemona Dallas’ column for Audiofemme, Video of the Week.