Renee Geyer: Soul Down Under

Renee Geyer: Do Right Man
From Renee Geyer (RCA, 1973)

Renee Geyer: Do Your Thing
From It’s a Man’s, Man’s World (RCA, 1974)

I first came upon Geyer through her 1976 live album, Really Really Love You. I was taken by how this Australian chanteuse would not only cover a lesser-known Johnny “Guitar” Watson song, but would do it convincingly as a blue-eyed soul singer somewhere between the light touch of Dusty Springfield and heavy edge of Janis Joplin. Maybe it’s something in the water but Geyer clearly had an affinity for Black soul of the era as she covered any number of R&B songs in her first few albums for RCA. I pulled out a couple for your listening pleasure.

On “Do Right Man,” Geyer takes on the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, by covering one of Aretha’s first big Atlantic hits, “Do Right Man” and what I like here is how she gives it more of a country feel rather than attempting a straight cover. But regardless of the genre-switching, Geyer’s voice proves itself to be an admirable instrument, able to convey a lot of grit and warmth at once.

Word of caution: there’s two, eponymous albums by Geyer but for whatever reason, the self-titled album I have is not listed in her discography and even more strange: most of the songs on this album (which includes versions of “Moon Dance,” “Lean On Me,” and “Them Changes” do not appear anywhere in her own discography (though a couple of songs are on that other self-titled album). Not sure how to explain that though I’m guessing it’s some weird RCA thing).

Geyer’s version of Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing” appears on It’s a Man’s Man’s World (one of the few of the early RCA albums to get reissued, though this comp covers some of that ground. Again, is it better than Hayes? No. Is it a cool cover? Absolutely. (I’m trying to think if any other women have covered this song…I’m only familiar with male versions of it).

At some point, someone really needs to compile Geyer’s “best of” soul collection. (Ahem, RCA Victor – holla me!)