tome is essentially a trivia book, a selective day-by-day listing of events in
the lives of female performers, from June 1, 1873 (birthday of Ada Jones) to
April 15, 2008 (release date of “eventual horror cult-classic film” Zombie Strippers, starring Roxy Saint).
The intention is to highlight the contributions women have made to music. And
it’s certainly interesting watching women rise in visibility over the decades,
from making occasional chart placings to becoming a major force in the
coverage in the later years loses some of this focus. While the importance of
the charts is obvious, the inclusion of other events is less so. When Warner
includes a particular show – Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s December 15, 1969 gig
Lyceum for example – it would be useful to know why exactly he considers it
“notable.” Nor is it clear why events in a performer’s personal life – Janis
Joplin getting a tattoo (April 2, 1970) or British “thrush” Sandi [sic] Shaw
being arrested for refusing a breathalyzer test (October 17, 1991) – are
“notable” (and in a book ostensibly lauding women’s accomplishments, one might
want to rethink the use of the diminutive “thrush”).
occasional editorializing adds some unintentional humor. He finds it “ironic”
that k.d. lang, “who preferred to dress in masculine attire,” performed at the
VH1 Fashion and Music Awards (December 3, 1995). And rap is his pet peeve; “For
every rap record in the Top 100, there was one less opportunity for a singer to
make their mark,” he fumes, like a crotchety grandpa. Not surprisingly, neither
punk (unless you count Patti Smith) or riot grrrl acts feature in his history.
Though you’d have to go page by page through the book to be certain, as there’s
no index. GILLIAN G. GAAR