Saturday, July 24, 2010

Parentheses / You First: You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

Jimmy Somerville

Jimmy Somerville : You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)


You might have noticed by now that I have a great affection for male vocalists who have ranges pitched higher than usual. That explains my affection for Jimmy Somerville, former lead singer for the 80s synth pop groups Bronski Beat and the Communards. Even among these select singers, Somerville's voice is a flat-out falsetto, which I think suits the dance floor perfectly. He's had a string of club dance hits, commonly covers of R&B songs ("Don't Leave Me This Way", "I Feel Love", "Never Can Say Goodbye").

Apart from that awesome voice, Somerville is noteworthy in being one of the first openly gay recording artists, a rarity in the early 80's. Bronski Beat featured all gay performers, and their music reflects this—their first hit single, "Smalltown Boy", and its follow-up, "Why", both express the sting of anti-gay prejudice.

"You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" was a disco hit for Sylvester James; Somerville recorded it in 1989 for his first solo album. Sylvester himself was also gay; his music flourished in the San Francisco discos in Harvey Milk's Castro District.

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