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Various Artists Strong Love: Songs Of Gay Liberation 1972 - 1981

11th June 2021

Format Info

LP - pink vinyl

Originally released on CD in 2012, Chapter’s landmark compilation of 70s gay musical pioneers gets a vinyl release for the first time ever – and on pink vinyl to boot! Strong Love explores the first wave of openly gay songwriting that emerged after New York’s Stonewall Riots kickstarted the modern gay rights movement in 1969. It took just a few years for the defiant chanting and interlocked arms of early 70s pride marches to reverberate onto record, and Strong Love begins with one of the earliest known recordings of openly gay songwriting, 1972’s A Gay Song by London hippie collective Everyone Involved.

Across 15 tracks, the compilation takes in disarmingly personal folk, uplifting soul, outsider country and dark synth-rock. Eccentric one man band Chris Robison played with the New York Dolls and Elephant’s Memory, while LA glam seducer Smokey saw members of the Stooges and Quiet Riot pass through his backing band. Steven Grossman was covered by Twiggy and Scrumbly & Martin are justifiably infamous for their work with San Francisco drag hippies the Cockettes. The songs on Strong Love illustrate the vision, talent and raw courage that drove 1970s songwriters to sacrifice
popular careers for the sake of honesty and self-expression. Compiled by Chapter Music’s Guy Blackman, with an evocative
introduction from drummer Richard Dworkin (who played with Blackberri and Buena Vista and is one of the few to have witnessed many
Strong Love artists first hand), the album is a powerful tribute to pioneering artists whose music has been neglected for too long.

One of our favourite compilations of the last twenty years on one of our favourite labels, finally gets the vinyl reissue it deserved back in 2012 on its initial release.

This month is Pride month and coincidentally, or perhaps not, Chapter Music’s landmark 2012 compilation Strong Love: Songs Of Gay Liberation 1972-1981 has been reissued, this time on vinyl for the first time. Strong Love compiled an era of songwriting and political activism that was largely subdued or ignored by the mainstream media, a decade of music made by gay artists addressing both the plight of queer-identified folk facing bigotry and social persecution but also the joy and love of the community. As a compilation, Strong Love is every bit as endlessly fun, revealing and surprising as a Numero comp and just as lovingly executed.

The music on Strong Love cuts across a plethora of genres prevalent in the decade it addresses, from communal-singing folk music to progressive rock touched with analog synth solos. Some of the cuts are so cool, so perfectly evocative of the era that you could easily come to the conclusion that the reason the releases they’re culled from aren’t expensive record collector dreams is the music has always been maligned because of the inherent heterodoxy of 20th Century music. This is Chapter’s attempt to address this lopsided historical blight, but it’s also just a brilliant album of period pieces.

Everyone Involved’s mid-paced, harmony-drenched opener A Gay Song has a loosely early 70s’ Bowie-esque tint in the instrumentation married with a strong chorus singing activism, dandelions in the hair, Age Of Aquarius hippy utopianism. Charlie Murphy’s Gay Spirit uses acoustic guitars and percussion to bring a wide-eyed call to arms while Blackberri’s exquisite soulful, funky track It’s Okay has a metallic toned bass guitar and bongo accompaniment, slowly unfurling until the drums pump up the jam into a light funk storm of desire. Smokey’s Moog and prog stylings also boasts a brilliant breakbeat-ready drum track with its squelch, with this kind of down ‘n’ dirty 70s funk taken up on tracks like Buenavista’s porn-lovin’ Hot Magazine. Tom Robinson beams in with the roughed up bass-led, phasered into another realm anthem Good To Be Gay and if you’re a casual admirer of the Monorail mail out you’ll have probably read of our love of Lavendar Country, on this outing their song Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears probably taking the best title, erm, title. The sub-glam, proto power pop anthem Big Strong Man In My Life by Chris Robinson deserves its time on some dance floor somewhere. There’s just so much to get your teeth into here.

The breadth on the record ranges wildly between outrageously fun odes to sexual desire to protest songs about the movement that grew exponentially in the wake of the Stonewall riots of ’69. Expert musicianship, humour and love, it’s all here.

Other Releases by Various Artists