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While they came into prominence as part of the late-'80s folky singer/songwriter revival, the Indigo Girls had staying power where other artists from the same era quickly faded. Their two-women-with-guitars formula may not have seemed very revolutionary on paper, but the combination of two distinct personalities and songwriting styles provided tension and an interesting balance. Emily Saliers, hailing from the more traditional Joni Mitchell school, boasted a gentler sound, was more complex musically, and leaned toward the abstract and spiritual. Meanwhile, Amy Ray drew heavily from the singer/songwriter aspects of punk rock, citing influences such as the Jam, the Pretenders, and Hüsker Dü for her more abrasive and direct approach. Throughout two decades of music, they managed to garner respectable mainstream success and maintain their rabid core following.
Amy Ray and Emily Saliers first took the name Indigo Girls while living in Atlanta in 1985, although they had been performing together since the early '80s, at times under the name "the B-Band." In 1986, they recorded an independent self-titled EP and followed in 1987 with the full-length Strange Fire -- only 7,000 copies were pressed, however, and very little interest was generated. Things changed quickly in 1988 when, in the wake of the success of Suzanne Vega, Tracy Chapman, and 10,000 Maniacs, the duo seemed to fit nicely into "the next big thing." Appropriately, Epic Records was quick to sign them.
Indigo Girls, released in 1989, was an excellent national debut. A guest vocal by R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe ("Kid Fears") gave them initial college radio credibility, and the single "Closer to Fine" was a hit -- buoyed by those strengths, the album eventually broke the Top 30 and earned a Grammy for Best Folk Recording that year. By the end of 1991, it achieved platinum sales. Strange Fire was reissued in the fall, with a cover of "Get Together" replacing one of the original tracks. The follow-up, 1990's Nomads Indians Saints, didn't fare quite as well. Although it was nominated for a Grammy and eventually reached gold status, the material wasn't nearly as strong. A live EP, Back on the Bus, Y'All, was released in 1991 while the women regrouped; it, too, was certified gold and garnered a Grammy nomination.
In spring of 1992, the Indigo Girls made a comeback with Rites of Passage, which debuted at number 22 and went platinum by the year's end. The album showed an increasing diversity and some of their strongest songs to date. Almost exactly two years later, Swamp Ophelia was released and entered the charts at number nine; it went gold by the end of the year. A double live album, 1200 Curfews, was released in 1995 and the much awaited follow-up to Swamp Ophelia, Shaming of the Sun, followed in 1997. The duo's next effort, Come on Now Social, appeared two years later.
Released in 2002, Become You was stripped down in comparison to the orchestration of the Girls' more recent work, and 2004's All That We Let In was generally regarded as their strongest album in years. A rarities set appeared the following year, marking Saliers and Ray's 20-year anniversary as Indigo Girls, as well as their last release on the Epic roster. Shortly thereafter, Saliers and Ray signed a five-album deal with Hollywood Records, although the songwriters only released one record -- the Mitchell Froom-produced Despite Our Differences, issued in 2006 -- before Hollywood dropped them from its roster. the Indigo Girls took to their website to assure fans that the band would move onward, and 2009's Poseidon and the Bitter Bug marked their first independent release in over 20 years.
Released in 2010, the double-disc Staring Down the Brilliant Dream featured live performances from shows between 2006 and 2009, and the duo wrapped up the year by releasing a holiday-themed bluegrass album, Holly Happy Days. Issued in 2011, Beauty Queen Sister, the Indigo Girls’ 14th studio album and the fourth to be released on their own IG Recordings imprint for Vanguard Records, reunited them with producer Peter Collins, who helmed the duo’s earlier albums Rites of Passage and Swamp Ophelia.
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Strange Fire, the Indigo Girls' debut album, was re-released after their next album Indigo Girls hit big on college radio in 1989. The beautiful harmonies of college friends Amy Ray and Emily Saliers was immediately apparent on this album, the two-girls-with-guitars format felt like a breath of fresh air from a musical city (Athens, GA) known more for alternative acts such as the B-52's and R.E.M. Although most of the songs featured both women's voices complementing one another, it is clear that the songwriting came from two distinct sources. Emily Saliers, a talented guitarist, generally sings introspective songs in the tradition of folkies such as Joni Mitchell, whereas Amy Ray, whose influences include harder-edged acts such as Hüsker Dü, sings with a rare intensity only matched by the heavy strumming of her acoustic guitar. At this stage, the Indigo Girls are still developing and their lyrics suffer in comparison to their future efforts, which perhaps explains why the fiery, upbeat, and passionate songs of Amy Ray work better than the spare, mellow songs of Emily Saliers. They perform a cover of the Youngblood's "Get Together" that is every bit as good as the original, and their closing song "Land of Canaan" is a concert favorite. A must-own for fans, but casual listeners should start with their sophomore effort.
Indigo Girls - Strange Fire (flac 269mb)
01 Strange Fire 5:28
02 Crazy Game 2:51
03 Left Me A Fool 4:52
04 I Don't Wanna Know 3:13
05 Hey Jesus 4:07
06 Get Together 3:30
07 Walk Away 5:27
08 Make It Easier 3:58
09 You Left It Up To Me 4:55
10 Land Of Canaan 4:08
Indigo Girls - Strange Fire (ogg 111mb)
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With their first major label release, the Indigo Girls come on strong with an outstanding batch of tunes, watertight harmonies, impeccable musicianship, and flawless production. And entering the folk-rock music scene on the successful heels of R.E.M., Tracy Chapman, and 10,000 Maniacs pushed their sales over the million mark and earned the duo a Grammy for Best Folk Recording. The eponymous release kicks off with the upbeat jangle bounce of "Closer to Fine," a modest hit, all-time fan favorite written by Emily Saliers, and a tune the Girls still play at every concert. A particularly fascinating point is that the Indigo Girls never write songs together, but they compliment each other perfectly. The difference in styles becomes immediately apparent when the more dark and brooding Amy Ray steps up. Her remarkable contributions include "Secure Yourself," "Kid Fears," and "Blood and Fire," spiritual ruminations of life, love, pain, and faith which bury themselves deep inside your core whether invited or not. Weighting the opposite scales, Saliers offers a tender balance to Ray with two beautiful ballads, "Love's Recovery" and "History of Us." (Ray's "Land of Canaan" was once a ballad, but then she heard the Replacements and it became a bit of a rocker.) Chiming in with musical support are Hothouse Flowers, Luka Bloom, and fellow Georgians R.E.M. This self-titled release captures the passion of their youth with voices that are a little cloudy, untamed, and raw, but the power that surges through them suggests a maturity far beyond their years. The same can be said of the songwriting -- sheer poetry. To attempt examinations of these songs would not do them justice, for the layers of meaning and emotion unfold best upon repeated listening.
Indigo Girls - Indigo Girls (flac 271mb)
01 Closer To Fine 3:59
02 Secure Yourself 3:34
03 Kid Fears 4:33
04 Prince Of Darkness 5:22
05 Blood And Fire 4:37
06 Tried To Be True 2:56
07 Love's Recovery 4:21
08 Land Of Canaan 3:55
09 Center Stage 4:46
10 History Of Us 5:20
Indigo Girls - Indigo Girls (ogg 106mb)
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Jane Wiedlin was born in Oconomowoc, Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Wiedlin spent her early childhood growing up in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is one of five children, with a sister and three brothers. When Jane was six, her father took a job with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs at a VA Hospital in Los Angeles, California and her family followed in tow. Soon after arriving in California, Wiedlin's mother cut Jane's waist-long hair to her signature pixie cut hairstyle, due to Wiedlin's becoming an active swimmer now that she lived in a warmer climate.
While attending college in the Los Angeles area, for fashion design, Wiedlin worked at a fashion design house where she created song lyrics by scribbling down ideas on the clothing patterns. "Jane Drano," as she came to be known, would later design punk-style clothing that she sold at Granny Takes a Trip, a store on Sunset Boulevard. She became part of the scene that spawned bands like X, The Germs and The Weirdos. She and Belinda Carlisle formed The Go-Go's as a punk band in 1978, with Margot Olaverra on bass, and Elissa Bello on drums. In 1981, Wiedlin and Terry Hall of the Fun Boy Three and The Specials co-wrote "Our Lips Are Sealed."
Wiedlin remained part of The Go-Go's (see last week) until October 1984, when she left to pursue a solo career. "Rush Hour" (1988) was her most successful single – having done well in both the American and British charts. The song was taken from her second album, Fur. After a series of reunions during the 1990s, Wiedlin, Carlisle, Caffey, Schock, and Valentine re-formed the band again in 2000 to record God Bless the Go-Go's, their first studio album in seventeen years. The album, originally titled Vision of Nowness, had a title and concept based on an idea from Wiedlin.
Her early acting credits include a one-line role in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (she is credited as Alien Communication Officer, but the script had her as Officer Trillya), Joan of Arc in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, an ill-fated singing telegram girl in Clue, and the White Fairy in Golan-Globus's Sleeping Beauty. In April 2009, Jane reconnected with director Steve Balderson for Stuck!, an homage to film noir women in prison dramas. Co-starring Karen Black, Pleasant Gehman, Susan Traylor, Starina Johnson and cult icon Mink Stole, Stuck! was filmed in Macon, Georgia and was released in 2010. Wiedlin has also provided voices for several characters in television and film.
Wiedlin is a long-time animal rights activist, and has worked with PETA since at least 1989 when she performed as part of a "Rock Against Fur" concert in New York City. She is a close friend of PETA's Dan Mathews. Wiedlin has been married twice; once to Ged Malone (from 1987 to 1999) and once to David Trotter (from 2004 to 2005). Her first marriage was the subject of her 2000 song "The Good Wife." Her current domestic partner is musician Travis Kasperbauer, whom she met at a Wisconsin music festival. She has no children.
Wiedlin is an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church, a mail-order religious organization that offers anyone semi-immediate ordination as a ULC minister, free of charge. Wiedlin identifies herself as "Reverend Sister Go-Go", serving primarily in the capacity of officiating at weddings.
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Unlike Jane Wiedlin's superior solo debut, 1988's Fur spawned a hit single, the admittedly quite good "Rush Hour." Unfortunately, much of the rest of this album is disappointing. Stephen Hague's slickly synthesized production buries the songs in layers of MIDI keyboards, sequencers, and drum machines (courtesy of ex-Naked Eyes keyboardist Rob Fisher) that tend to obscure the songs themselves. Unfortunately, the other part of the problem is that the songs (all of them co-written by outside collaborators, including Hague and Bruce Woolley) aren't all up to snuff. "Rush Hour" and the haunting ballad "The End of Love" are the best of the lot, with "Song of the Factory" close behind. The title track gets points for addressing Wiedlin's deeply felt position on animal rights, and makes a fair point by addressing the uselessness of fur coats rather than the inherent cruelty. Fur largely sounds like Wiedlin was being led by EMI's A&R team instead of thinking for herself.
Jane Wiedlin - Fur (flac 229mb)
01 Inside A Dream 3:39
02 Rush Hour 4:05
03 One Heart One Way 3:51
04 Homeboy 4:00
05 The End Of Love 3:16
06 Lover's Night 3:27
07 Fur 3:13
08 Give! 3:17
09 Song Of The Factory 4:55
10 Whatever It Takes 3:57
Jane Wiedlin - Fur ( ogg 82mb)
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