Published on 27 June 2024 at 17:05

By Paul Laird

Author of "The Birth And Impact Of Britpop: Mis-Shapes, Scenesters And Insatiable Ones"


I have spent the day in bed. 

Remember Covid? 

Fever dreams. 

Body aches. 


Poor me. 

Poor me. 


Show me the hem of the robe of one who could save me and I will reach out and touch it, I have  faith that I will be made whole again. 

A personal Jesus has arrived. 


Dana Gillespie has been making music for longer than I have been alive. 

A creative force acknowledged by Gods, and the Elders, of the Church of popular culture. 


A voice that could shake the gates of Hell, and assemble the Heavenly throng, all in the same  breath. 

From the frothy pop delights of 1968’s “Foolish Seasons”, the blues of 1971’s “Weren’t Born a  Man”, the electronic experimentation of 1982’s “Solid Romance”, and onto the nineties where she  recorded an entire album of songs with the word “blue” in the title (“Blue One”), she has been  there, seen it, heard it, lived it, and done it all. 


But you probably haven’t ever heard, or heard of, her. 


In many ways Gillespie is the singer's singer - the musician's curio. 


Now, at the age of 75, Richenda Antoinette de Winterstein Gillespie (God that is a wonderful  name) has released the album that should make her your new favourite singer, an album that  should take you into a deep dive of the deepest waters of her sprawling back catalogue. 


With the loving guidance of Marc Almond, Gillespie has pulled together a collection of cover  versions and given each one of the songs new life, and popped them beside the original work. The  lazy comparison here is with Rick Rubin’s work with Johnny Cash on the “American” recordings -  but here there is something greater to play for. Cash was already a household name, albeit one  who’s time appeared to have been and gone. For Gillespie this is a chance to grab a new  audience, while still thrilling her most loyal fans…one last moment in the spotlight, except that for  her the spotlight has never mattered, it has only ever been about the music. 


The lead single from the album was “Spent the Day in Bed”, a 2017 single from Morrissey about  the dangers of watching the news, and the delights of being master of one’s own destiny, reveling  in the simple delights of sheets you have bought and paid for, while correctly pointing out that  watching the news is a terrible waste of your time. 


Dana has much in common with Morrissey; the links with Bowie, the sense that despite the  successes the accolades they rightly deserve have never truly arrived, the fierce commitment to  the power of the voice. Her version of “Spent the Day in Bed” is every bit as good as the  original…truthfully it may even be better, there is a greater sense of drama, her voice sweeping  between sultry and authoritative.


The other song choices reveal that everyone involved in this project has taken great care over  their selection - songs that seem unlikely (Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”) sit side by  side with less surprising, but utterly transformed, choices like Lana Del Rey’s “Gods and  Monsters” - hearing her take on the pop punk of the former, and the stadium filling, profanity  laden, art pop of the latter is a joy. 


The range of artists here reveals an artist who understands that in music there are no border, no  boundaries, no territory that is off limits to the artist - Jake Bugg, Fleetwood Mac, Leonard Cohen,  and others. 


When my end of year highlights come around, “First Love” will be sitting somewhere near the top  of the pile…right now it might even be at the top of the pile.



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