Music Review: Genya Ravan – Undercover

It’s been 9 years since Genya Ravan’s For Fans Only compilation and Undercover, a collection of fourteen new renditions of classic songs as well as a reworking of Genya’s own 202 Riving Street is an absolute delight.

Give a listen to “Drunken Angel” if you want to hear authentic production work a la the great Jimmy Miller during the “Exile On Main St.” era. Genya worked with Miller on her 1973 ABC release They Love Me, They Love Me Not. In 1986 Miller and Ravan performed at a Rhode Island nightclub singing back-up to Buddy Guy as we were all involved in the Buddy Guy sessions at a Rhode Island recording studio at the time…a reunion of sorts.

In a telephone interview on May 6, 2011 Genya talked about her newest production, an album of cover tunes. “Body Song” has that dreamy appeal of “Tops” and the elegance of “Heaven” from The Stones Tattoo You. Tom Petty could get a listen in soulful singing as the G.R. instruction manual gives his “You Got Lucky” a new twist. Petty would do well to bring Ravan onboard for his next outing. And then check out the most outrageous reinvention of the classic Tom Jones made a pop hit out of, “I (Who Have Nothing)”. It’s a quasi-reggae excursion into heartache that rips away the veil that has been covering this standard for decades bringing it into a wonderful new dimension. “For Your Precious Love” has Genya’s precious pipes.

This is a remarkable artist who refused to step into Janis Joplin’s shoes for CBS at the time of Joplin’s passing, but who is giving the world the soulful insight that Janis brought to the forefront. It’s all Genya, a unique and rare talent, but it is the style that Joplin popularized and it is really time for Ms. Ravan to get the worldwide recognition she deserves. There are lots of musical adventures here, the singer using her production and arrangement skills to bring something new to the table. The result is sublime. “202 Rivington St” is an original, biographical song that first appeared in a live version on the For Fans Only release from 2002 (with material culled from 1978 – 1989). The studio version here is about a minute and 20 seconds shorter, but still manages a nice 6:17 of the Ravan’s tale. A new album is being recorded as you read this…something to look forward to.

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for, and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.