Thursday, August 13

Videos from Purgatory #46: Cree Summer -Curious White Boy

Here's a song you don't hear everyday - Cree Summer with her latest single "Savior Self"

Cree Summer is actually a pretty well known actress and voice-over artist. Years ago she starred on Bill Cosby's "A Different World" with Lisa Bonet as "Freddie" (The Wild-haired Hippy Chick) - and has done almost two hundred voice actor spots in animated shows from Rugrats to Ani-Maniacs, Batman Beyond and Clone Wars. So she's been around. But actually that isn't the half of it.

Revelation Sunshine

Before she released her solo record (which was produced by Lisa's ex-husband Lenny Kravitz) she had a group before that. That group was called Subject to Change.

Unfortunately before the album was even released, they were dropped by their label (a lot like the way Tom Morello's original band Lock Up was dropped) - so there are no videos other this one I found done by a fan using the Sims.

This isn't really a great example of the kind of songs STC did, since it only used half the band - but the intensity of the attitude and sentiment is clear. The album featured grooving hard rock songs, some with a jazz tinge, that address feminism, religion, peace and war in a very in your face manner - and oh by the way - IT ROCKED HARD!

But nearly a decade later when Lenny finally produced her solo album most of the hard rock edge was gone, in fact all of it was gone except for the one song "Curious White Boy".

Now this song bears a bit of explanation, even though the basic idea is pretty obvious ("Jungle Fever Gone Awry") it really wasn't originally one of Cree's own songs. It actually came from her Subject to Change bandmate - Tory Ruffin and his previous group Civil Rite. She redid the lyrics to fit herself, because the CR version was written from a male perspective and called "Butt Naked in a Field of Daiseys". Also the guitars were recorded a lot better - I still don't know why the HELL R&B bands can't get distorted guitars recorded right.. it's always sounds completely fucked up! I have to think it's just another part of the reflexive aversion to ROCK that seems to permeate Black Music and Black Radio.

Anyway Cree - just like Dionne Farris and Mother's Finest - started out Rocking Hard, but in order to get a record out that the industry would support had to pretty much cut that practically down to nothing. You could even see this trend with Tori's own career, he started out rocking like an MFer with Civil Rite, which was like Zeppelin meets Parliament meets Coltane, then softened just a little bit for Subject to Change, a bit more with Dionne for the song "Passion" (where he's featured in the video), but now he's doing almost entirely straight up R&B as the touring guitarist for Morris Day and The Time as well as his own side project - FreakJuice.

Bit by bit the scrape the Rock off of you, until there's nothing left.

Another example is David Ryan Harris who started out Rocking his BUTT OFF with Follow For Now, then moved to Pop Rock with his next band Brand New Immortals and what's he doing now? He's playing backup with - wait for it - John Maher. Yeah, like he *really* Rocks.. not.

Maybe someday Cree will get a chance to Rock again, but at this rate I'm not hopeful.

Update : I looks like Cree has continued to collaborate with Tory, on the Freakjuice song "Hidden" from their second CD "Like You".


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