With the sad passing of legendary singer Renée Geyer, we take a journey through her career and list the eight best musical moments you need to know
It's A Man's Man's World (1974)
From the 1983 album of the same name, It's A Man's Man's World is a blistering interpretation of James Brown's hit that showcases the unbelievable vocal talents of Geyer. Self-described as "a white Hungarian Jew from Australia sounding like a 65-year-old black man from Alabama", this is a prime example of her unique tone and ability to wield her instrument like few others. This was her first hit, cracking the Australian top 50 for the first time. Check out this live version from the 1975 National Music Industry Awards.
Say I Love You (1981)
Renée Geyer's biggest hit came in 1981 after two records that leaned into more traditional blues and soul, Winner and Blues Licence, but that underperformed in sales. This time, Geyer returned and leaned directly into pop with arguably her most accessible album So Lucky. Say I Love You rocketed to the top of the charts, the first and only time she visited the top five. The single was also a massive hit across the Tasman reaching #1 in New Zealand.
Heading In The Right Direction (1977)
From her 1975 album Ready To Deal, Heading in the Right Direction was Renée Geyer's first entry into the Australian top 40, hitting #30 on the Kent Music Report. The R&B flavour of the single was perfect for her vocal, and the smooth sound introduced her to a more commercial audience, becoming one of her signature songs.
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Stares & Whispers (1977)
From the album Moving Along, Stares & Whispers was Renée Geyer's second biggest hit after Say I Love You. This simple pop ballad showcased a brilliant performance, moving out of the way to let the vocals shine. This was her first sojourn into the top 20, peaking at #17 and included a fantastic performance on Countdown's 100th show.
Shakey Ground (1976)
Live is where Renée Geyer really shone as a performer, so it's only fitting that one of her finest moments comes from her live album Really Really Love You (Live At The Dallas Brooks Hall). The record is full of great tunes including a great duet with Doug Williams on It Only Happens and to be frank, we could have chosen anything off this album, but we've gone with Shakey Ground, a cracking cover of The Temptations' then-recent hit. The album was the final record before Geyer headed over to the US (where her international debut Moving Along, which featured Stares & Whispers and Heading In The Right Direction was just around the corner) and was the final album credited to The Renée Geyer Band. While Geyer shines on this set, it's the band that makes this a must-listen, with a performance every bit as tight as Geyer's vocal. They clearly knew how to swing, with killer horns, licking guitars and a vibe that leaves you wanting more.
Baby, Please Don't Go (2013)
Showing her musical versatility, Renée Geyer's final album was 2013's Swing, a set of big band tunes complete with dirty horns and a sound that transports you back to a smokey jazz dive bar. This version is every bit as compelling as the original Muddy Waters / Rolling Stones classic, with Geyer absolutely making it her own.
Why Can't We Live Together (2007)
A chart hit in 1972 for Timmy Thomas, Geyer's version opened her 2007 album Dedicated, a sultry and understated groove with her vocal weaving effortlessly across a minimalist instrumental that leaves plenty of space for her vocal interpretation to shine. Another example of Geyer finding those special elements in other people's songs that they left behind and embracing them into a sound all of her own.
Difficult Woman (1994)
Written and produced by Paul Kelly for Renée, the song became somewhat of an anthem for her, wearing the label as a badge. Her 2000 autobiography was titled Confessions of a Difficult Woman, but Geyer refused to be drawn on its meaning in an interview for on the ABC's Talking Heads, saying that the song was "about a complicated woman and that's it". Kelly recorded the song himself a year later for his album Deeper Water, a very bold move when the act you're following is as class as Renée Geyer. Sorry, Paul, we love Gravy, but this round goes to Renée.