Sunday, February 24, 2013


My favorite voices in the world are Harry Nilsson, John Lennon, Brian Wilson, Blossom Dearie, Sarah Vaughn, Paolo Conti, Keely Smith. But wait! Aren't all these people either super old or dead? I guess that's true, but there's one who's neither and that's Faye Hunter. Not only is she not dead or old, but she is in fine form, looking continental, and back again, finally, in the studio.

Some of you might remember her from her days as the bass player and backbone vocalist of Let's Active, the super-wonderful krinkly-haired trio from Winston-Salem in the early 80's, or perhaps her later work with the Wygals or Chris Stamey. If you do, you will certainly agree that her voice was the perfect counterpoint, punctuation mark, or total enrichment feel to virtually every song she graced during those days. Trying to imagine some of those songs without Faye is like trying to imagine the Beatles' BECAUSE without background vocals. Don't even try it! It will make you hurt and there is no point.

And like the Beatles, most people have the good sense not to cover these songs. And when they do, they rarely, if ever, deviate from the signature vocals that she used during way-back-when. Smart, because they are hard to top.

Sadly, Faye was woefully, no, criminally under represented on these albums, particularly as a lead vocalist. There are a few fine exceptions, though, like ROOM WITH A VIEW from AFOOT:

Which is a kind of beautiful combo of the forgotten psychedelic masterpiece AN ELECTRIC STORM by WHITE NOISE and...Bridget Bardot singing with Serge Gainsbourg? Kind of, yes. Also, not, and also, kind of, very, great.

My favorite example, though, of her work (particularly for its brevity-to-impact value) is from the same era's LEADER OF MEN. A great punch tune, a stop-start bass guitar heart, fantastically cat scratch (real cats) guitar solo, but what do you remember? Probably the one word vocal that Faye adds to the mix: MEN. It comes and goes like a freight train when you are standing still. Awfully hard to forget, and it's just one little syllable.

In 2012 Faye went back into the studio to do a double vocal with UK singer Amanda Thompson for LET'S PRETEND WE'RE SPIES. Thirty years later, it's clear that the girl still has the goods.

In the meantime, she has picked up her bass again, and is contemplating new work in the studio and possibly live, all of which bodes well for those who miss her voice and for those who will hear her for the first time now. In other words, everybody. This is the good music news of 2012 and beyond. Keep an eye out for her. If you find her, it will make you happy.

And did I mention her art? See above. More good news abounds.

THE CRISPIES are an annual appreciation of 10 of the most wonderful things discovered over the course of the previous year, having been produced or created any time at all.

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