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Everybody’s talking about The Beehive Live!
ROCHESTER INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL RAVES
Went to see The Beehive Queen tonight, as part of the Rochester International Jazz Festival (yeah, I know…) and she was amazing. Had the crowd in the palm of her hand the whole time; got a standing ovation during the last song.
– Bill Holmes, Dr. Bristol’s Prescription
Who would’ve though rabble rousers like Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez would draw such a huge crowd at a jazz festival?
Well, the crowd was packed in like lemmings for Ohlman’s first set in the steamy Abilene tent. Dressed entirely in leopard print (swoon) and high heels (swoon, swoon) and a sky-high beehive --- if this lady’s hair was a clock, it was high noon --- Ohlman wowed the screaming crowd not by ripping it up or serving up a good ol’ throwdown in 4/4 time for her opening number. No, she opened with Otis Redding’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” She sang smokey and cool, and paused between songs to give thanks and share some of the songs’ back stories, including the one about Aretha Franklin’s big sister Irma and her version of “Take A Little Piece Of My Heart” done years before Janis. Ohlman rocked the joint front to back and would have blown the doors off had, there been any.
– Frank DeBlase, City Newspaper
There’s just not enough gold lamé in rock and roll. Christine Ohlman has it all. Trading in the leopard-skin outfit of her packed first show at Abilene for a shimmering, bowling-trophy gold motif, Ohlman scattered little rock history lessons throughout her show. Her pedigree includes a stint as the Saturday Night Live band vocalist, but she’s clearly been spending plenty of time with her old record collection. That tremendous blonde beehive of hair — her trademark — is a nod to Ronnie Spector, but she needs a few hundred heads to cover the sounds she visits. Her slow-burning version of “Piece of My Heart” was a jaw dropper, followed by “Not Fade Away.”
Today’s jazz haiku
Christine, what is in
that great, blonde beehive of hair?
Guitars, rock history
– Jeff Spevak, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
THE SUN-JOURNAL Portland, ME “Folks around here have already heard the music created by Ohlman’s band when the SNL vocalist took part in that great North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland--the blonde bombshell had folks dancing on their chairs with her very first appearance at that fine, day-long event...her gutsy, confident stage presence captivated the crowd as she ripped into such originals as “Sugar Melts,” “One Night Called Love,” and the title track of her first CD, “The Hard Way.” - Lucky Clarke
THE HARTFORD COURANT Hartford, CT “Perhaps you’ve wondered where the great barn-burning bar bands have gone. Well, here’s one.” - Roger Catlin
NEW YORK PRESS New York, NY “This second edition of British pop at The Bottom Line included 29 songs, interpreted by some of the brightest singers and players in town. Christine Ohlman absolutely killed behind a hit-the-ground-running, take-no-prisoners assault on Dusty Springfield’s ‘I Only Want To Be With You.’ Ohlman’s mico-mini served as a strategic weapon.” - Ken Marks
METROLAND Albany, NY From the mile-high blonde beehive hairdo to the textbook rock & roll radio lungs, Christine Ohlman instantly reminded you what used to be great about rock before it began to think too much. “Turn” was a linear shuffle of trust and redemption, while “Secret Heart” had a sting of hurt. “Then God Created Woman” was an epic rocker showing off ace guitarist Eric Fletcher’s expert James Burton-esque licks. Ohlman’s stage patter was priceless, confiding little secrets in us. Late in the night, an anxious torching of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” sounded impossibly fresh and new, as did the tough-as-nails “All Over Now.” Watching Ohlman wind between roots rock and blues and never lose control of the wheel was a thrilling, reassuring sight. - D.M.
WORCESTER MAGAZINE Worcester, MA “Christine Ohlman doesn’t just perform. When she’s on a stage, she OWNS it, taking command of it with her soulful singing and stage presence. She’s an electrifying talent, a born entertainer. Watching Ohlman blaze away is a visceral musical thrill. Fans of vibrant rock and soul owe it to themselves to catch Ohlman and her band, Rebel Montez, when they appear at the Plantation Club.” - Mark J. Cadigan
NEW HAVEN ADVOCATE New Haven, CT “So on to Cafe Nine for Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez. Oh Queen of R&B, purge me of the pre-packaged, electronic disco that “covers” me. Ahh, you know, CO& RM are SO good. The band’s originals just kill. Its covers (from classics to stuff pulled from way deep inside the blues vault) kill. People dancing and smiling. Just a damn good time. Thank you. I’m OK now.” - Craig Gilbert
PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS Philadelphia, PA “You may not know Christine Ohlman by name, but you surely know the beehive haired blonde by sign and sound, from her regular stint as vocalist in the Saturday Night Live Band. Truth is, those 15-second musical stingers after the comedy bits don’t do her justice. On her own, Ohlman is one terrific, tough-as-nails singer and songwriter, mixing up hook-happy, hum-along rock , blues and pop originals with the kind of panache I haven’t enjoyed since Bette Midler was working the cabaret circuit.” - Rick Selvin
WORCESTER TELEGRAM-GAZETTE Worcester, MA “A hurricane is hitting town tonight and its name is Christine Ohlman. ...Ohlman muscles her way into the blues boys club, never falling back on damsel-in-distress cliches nor passing herself off as a pretty baby. She tells stories--some happy, some sad, some downright steamy--and does it on her own terms, rather than bending to someone else’s taste or style. Rebel Montez, with guitarist Eric Fletcher, bassist Michael Colbath, and drummer Larry Donahue, is the right hot rod to carry Ohlman’s material. ‘Part of the charm of the whole thing is that I come from a background of listening to a lot of R&B and soul, but have this guitar band. It kicks real hard and seems to work great,’ she said.” - Scott McLennan
Billboard Review of Labour of Love: The Music of Nick Lowe
It’s tough not to skip the first eight cuts on Labour of Love and go straight for Marshall Crenshaw and Christine Ohlman’s take on “Cruel to Be Kind.” Not only is the song what most of us know the lauded artist/producer for - as it was his biggest U.S. hit - but it makes for a wonderful interpretive match, with Crenshaw’s voice as smooth as ever and Ohlman’s bitter vocals giving the song’s second verse even more bite.
Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers nearly rival that fun with a wild, gritty version of “Cracking Up.” Charlie Musselwhite adds a smoky “Faithless Lover,” and Dar Williams gets 13-track set started with the school-out fun of “All Men Are Liars.” Elvis Costello, for whom Lowe (who just issued his 11th album, The Convincer, on Yep Roc) produced six albums, turns in a take on the reflective “Egypt.” Graham Parker, C.J. Chenier, Levon Helm, and G.E. Smith also Join the party.- WO
Christine is featured in the September/October 2011 issue of the ultra-cool VENÜ Magazine
Christine is featured in the September/October issue of the ultra-cool VENÜ Magazine.
Click this cool flip-page link and scroll to page 58.
Fab photos by Tom Horan and Carl Vernlund.
Click here for the pdf version.
A Pop Music Lover Gets to Belt Them Out
The New York Times, by Patricia Grandjean
CHRISTINE OHLMAN is a dual personality. Relaxing alongside a crackling fire in her North Branford home, she’s a mild-mannered, self-taught pop music enthusiast, sharing her views on everything from Randy Newman’s 1974 album “Good Old Boys” (“so brutally honest,” she said, “no one could ever make it today”) and the guitar skills of R.E.M.’s Peter Buck to her carefully organized collection of deep Southern soul 45’s from the 1960’s and 70’s.
One gets the feeling that she knows every groove intimately, and indeed, Ms. Ohlman is held in high esteem as an archivist and historian. She was one of the founding editors of the “All Music Guide” before it became an Internet behemoth.
However, she is best known as the rhythm-and-blues-shouting Beehive Queen - a fixture on the Northeastern concert and recording scene for more than 30 years.
Her trademarks? A teased-to-the-sky platinum blonde beehive, inspired by the Ronettes (some pundits have estimated it at 19-plus inches), Roy Orbison-style wraparound shades, and a rich, deep contralto voice - packing a belt favorably compared to Janis Joplin’s.
She has worked with groups such as the 1970’s well-loved Scratch Band (another band member, G.E. Smith, later became leader of the Saturday Night Live Band). With her current quartet, Rebel Montez, she has released three albums (“The Hard Way,” “Radio Queen” and last year’s “Wicked Time.”)
Since 1991, Ms. Ohlman has sung lead vocals for the SNL Band, the late-night show’s warm-up act and entertainment during commercial breaks. Though she’s usually not seen on air, TV viewers have occasionally been able to catch a quick glimpse. She has played the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards and Bob Dylan’s 30th anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden, where she performed with Lou Reed, Neil Young, Johnny Cash and George Harrison. Her searing cover of “Howlin’ for My Darlin’ “ appeared on “A Tribute to Howlin’ Wolf,” a 1998 Grammy-nominated recording that also feature tracks by Lucinda Williams and Ronnie Hawkins.
Lenny Pickett, music director for “Saturday Night Live,” said Ms. Ohlmah was responsible for selecting much of the vintage rhythm and blues repertoire performed by the Saturday Night Live Band.
“Some of the songs she recommends are pretty obscure, but she knows the good stuff,” he said. “We’ve created a number of arrangements specifically for her.”
The singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw, who has been in multi-artist concerts with Ms. Ohlman, said: “Her spot is always like a big exclamation point in the middle of the proceedings. She gets 150 percent into the song and the moment and just raises the bar for everybody. She also sets a good example for all of us by always dressing up for the gig.” (Mr. Crenshaw and Ms. Ohlman are collaborating on a track for a tribute album to Nick Lowe, to be released on the same label, Telarc, as the Howlin’ Wolf album.)
Born in the Bronx into a family of music lovers that later moved to Cheshire, Ms. Ohlman said she was already “the inveterate ham” at age 5: “My parents always trotted me out in front of assembled relatives to belt in my little Sophie Tucker voice.”
Before long, she developed a precocious childhood fascination with the R & B masters Ray Charles and Jackie Wilson. But by the mid-60’s, her heart belonged to the Rolling Stones. During a 1966 Stones concert at Hartford’s Dillon Stadium, she was thrilled to catch a backstage glimpse of the Stone’s enraged manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, throttling the lead singer of an opening band that had stolen the Stones’ thunder by including “Paint It, Black,’’ then a big hit - in its own set.
“That represented, to my young eyes, the essence of rebellion and all things cool,” she said. (Mr. Oldham has since become a good friend.)
A couple of years later, she turned heads as the lead singer in her brother’s rock ‘n’ roll band, Fancy, a popular draw on Connecticut’s teen club circuit that caught the attention of Bob Shad, a big-name jazz producer. Mr. Shad managed his own New York City-based pop label, Mainstream (home to Janis Joplin prior to her contract with Columbia Records).
“He flew into Meriden Airport and came to listen to us play in someone’s basement,” Ms. Ohlman recalled. “We cut a couple of records that made it to the nether regions of the Hot Hundred. I really think they were bought onto the charts.”
She began songwriting in the early 70’s upon hooking up with the Scratch Band, whose repertoire encompassed everything from classic country to Lou Reed.
“We indulged each other’s tastes,” she said. “Anyone could try anything and get support. I was lucky to be an equal contributor, though my nickname was ‘The Girl’.”
That nickname has stuck in her relationship with Rebel Montez, though there’s no doubt who runs the show. Formed in 1988, the quartet (featuring Michael Colbath on bass guitar, Larry Donahue on drums and Eric Fletcher on lead guitar) is working on its fourth CD. It will be recorded and produced at Trod Nossel Studios in Wallingford - Connecticut’s longest-running recording studio, owned and operated by Thomas “Doc” Cavalier. (Along with their business ties, Mr. Cavalier and Ms. Ohlman have a longtime personal relationship.)
Dominated, as usual, by Ms. Ohlman’s original songs (a mix of rock ‘n’ roll, gritty country soul and Chicago blues with a shot of Bo Diddley on the side), the new album will experiment with electronic beats.
“It’s interesting to butt them up against the raw rock ‘n’ roll tracks,” she said.
The theme will be the one that she returns to again and again: love.
“Essentially, I think I’m a very romantic person, and it just comes out,” she said. “But I also enjoy the brutally honest side of it. I tend to be attracted to love songs that are a little skewed and conflicted.”
Ms. Ohlman said she doesn’t hanker for a recording contract with a major label, claiming satisfaction with the fact that her label, J-Bird Records, is a prominent indie with strong distribution.
“To be on a major label now would be so foolish; I would never make money,” she said. “At least my records are in stores. The indie scene is pretty energized now, and it’s going to become even stronger.
“To continue to grow as an artist is probably my only remaining dream,” she said. “And I’ve learned in this business, if you’re not a person first, it doesn’t mean anything. People will try to knock your humanity out of you. Sometimes you experience things and your first reaction is to laugh, to cry or to become bitter. I have found that laughing is generally the way to go.”
THE DEEP END HMG RECORDS HMG 2009
Fourteen songs of life and love tempered by loss from the Beehive Queen of blue-eyed rock n' soul, in a style Rolling Stone's Dave Marsh calls "Contemporary Rock R&B." Co-produced by Andy York (John Mellencamp) with Rebel Montez: Cliff Goodwin (guitars); Michael Colbath (bass), and Larry Donahue (drums). Featured are duets with Dion, Ian Hunter, and Marshall Crenshaw, plus guest appearances by Levon Helm, G.E. Smith, Big Al Anderson, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Catherine Russell, Shawn Pelton, the Asbury Juke Horns w/ Mark Rivera, Mitch Chakour, Jeff Kazee, and Vic Steffens.
It is Ohlman's first CD of new work since 2003's Strip; her recording hiatus follows the deaths of both longtime mate and producer Doc Cavalier and Rebel Montez guitarist/founding member Eric Fletcher (a pristine radio air shot of Ohlman with Fletcher is one of the CD's bonus cuts).
THE CRITICS RAVE:
"There are so many 'wow' moments"- Dave Marsh, SIRIUS/XM Radio personality / Rolling Stone editor emeritus
"Tough, tender, thoughtful and sassy-- R-E-A-L, as Sam Phillips was wont to say."- Peter Guralnick, Award-Winning Author and Musicologist (Last Train To Memphis, Sweet Soul Music)
"Whatever she touches becomes soulful and passionate. Ohlman always sounds like her born-to-be-bad self, belting out songs like the spitfire she is. It's that swagger combined with tenderness that makes her so compelling...the perfect balance of raw soul and gutsy rock. Perhaps the most powerful and potent moment is the title track, a gospel-infused swamp ballad that seems autobiographical, especially when she sings that she's 'hard to handle, the excitable kind/take off runnin' when I could've walked.' Ohlman never flinches from the hard stuff and throughout The Deep End, she dives in like the classic soul kings and queens she idolizes." - Hal Horowitz, The All Music Guide
"Ohlman and Rebel Montez concoct a Soul atmosphere as thick and palpable as a humid Southern night. Ohlman’s voice is a dusky, supple thing of dark Soul beauty, like a genre splice of Dusty Springfield and Delbert McClinton. She sells the album’s handful of covers with aching authenticity, from her duets with Marshall Crenshaw on the Marvin Gaye/Mary Wells classic “What’s the Matter with You Baby” and with the incomparable Dion on “Cry Baby Cry.” But the standouts on The Deep End are Ohlman’s stunning originals, which blister and soothe in equal measure."- Brian Baker, Cincinnati CityBeat
"The Beehive Queen has never sounded better"- Andrew Loog Oldham, Producer, The Rolling Stones / SIRIUS/XM Radio personality
"The Deep End insists on telling the truth until it alters perceptions of love and loss and how it all works, especially when it falls apart so tragically as that which produced this work of art. Here comes the sun, healing and transcendent." --www.thebluegrassspecial.com
"The husky-voiced singer is a full-package talent, a dynamic rocker who draws on soul and blues in ways that give her music a classic feel even as it pulses with her own personality. Make no mistake: If Ian Hunter, Dion DiMucci, Marshall Crenshaw, Levon Helm, G.E. Smith, Big Al Anderson, and Eric Ambel draw you into The Deep End, it's Ohlman who ends up making the biggest impression. As in: 'Wow'." - Nick Cristiano, Philadelphia Inquirer (syndicated)
"She of the beehive hairdo and the Saturday Night Live Band brings the ringing endorsement of Charlie Musselwhile to her excitedly sung and enjoyable roots-rock songs"- Downbeat
"As a singer, Ohlman makes each song sound like a prime cut on a jukebox in a Memphis barbecue joint. Hit(s) the sweet spot, straight and true." -Vintage Guitar Magazine
"Expect this album to pepper a few best-of lists in December. The songs on The Deep End draw as much upon gospel and urban doo-wop as they do blues and Americana. “I surrender to the rhythm in my blood”, Ohlman sings in 'Like Honey'. Me too, Christine, me too.” –Bill Holmes, www.popmatters.com
“Christine Ohlman and her band Rebel Montez have just released their sixth studio album, The Deep End, to what will undoubtedly be rave critical acclaim. Let it begin here. It’s staggering!" - Reb Landers, www.thealternateroot.com
"Ohlman turns out the best blue-eyed soul of her career...'The Gone of You' fully exhibits how much grief a blues-drenched heart can bear. The whole history of soul music can be heard here, reflected in a passionate life--or two." - Dave Marsh, Rock & Rap Confidential
"Don’t let the beehive hair or glammed-up persona fool you. Christine Ohlman can deliver the goods. With a delivery that carries all the joy of early rock and roll, Ohlman owns the voice of choice for every style from edgy blues to tender R&B to sweet country to bittersweet singer-songwriter". - Blues Revue - June/July 2010
"The record, like any good bit of love, has layers, not so much warning as perhaps honest admission - or perhaps undersanding - of love's varied means and ends. In fact, the blues isn't always about being sad, but simply allowing room for the myriad reaches and complexities of emotion." - Kim Ruehl, NoDepression.com
"On [The Deep End] the theme of love is very heavy. What is really astounding is the depth of love that is discussed." - Kyle Palarino, Blueswax
"There's a wondrous familiarity and traditionalism in Christine Ohlman's old-school, rough-hewn, Southern-soul roots rock..(she) is loyal and true to her roots while setting herself audacious new challenges: deeply impressive." - Chris Arnott, The Advocate, New Haven, CT
"On her latest record, seasoned R&B chanteuse Christine Ohlman writes and sings about human interactions, from irresistible sex to true love and, ultimately, unbelievable loss. There’s never a doubt that Ohlman is singing from an experienced heart." - Kay Cordtz, Elmore Magazine
“[Ohlman] sings in a gutsy rock ‘n’ roll voice edged in soul and blues, part Bonnie Raitt and part Genya Raven, with an element of Van Morrison’s early wildness. Her throwback sound combines the romanticism of Brill Building pop and horn-fed Stax muscle (courtesy of the Asbury Jukes’ Chris Anderson and Neal Pawley) into a potent rock ‘n’ roll stew. Ohlman’s band is similarly road-tested (the bass of Michael Colbath is particularly notable).” - www.hyperbolium.com
"If you give "The Deep End" a spin, you'll be an Ohlman fan for life. (4 stars)" - The Daily News, McKeesport, PA (Pittsburgh Metro)
"The “Beehive Queen” is a hard rocking Memphis soul fueled dynamo, and The Deep End may be her finest album yet...absolutely beautiful." - Michael Buffalo Smith, Gritz Magazine
“In its original form, rock n' roll was a blend of blues, country and gospel. Christine Ohlman practices rock the old-fashioned way. Like the music she makes, Ohlman seems timeless.” – Eric Danton, The Courant /Hartford, CT
"'Cry Baby Cry' (a duet with Dion) ought to be blasting out of a '55 Chevy radio on a hot summer night" – Wayne Blesdoe, Knoxville News-Sentinel
“I do have a favorite, however, and it’s another example of the cache that Christine Ohlman carries within the music world… enlisting the services of rock legend Dion DiMucci to sing with Ohlman on the gospel-tinged ‘Cry Baby Cry’ is a great touch.” – Reb Landers, www.thealternateroot.com
"A perfect concoction of musicianship and road weary soaked vocals....making the disc a solid listen is the wonderful group of musicians, Rebel Montez, who really add an exceptional backing groove to these 15 tracks and gives it an A-plus sheen. The Deep End is a diamond in the rough." - Carl Cortez, iF Magazine
"Ohlman exudes rock and soul authenticity from her wailing vocals to her beehive hairdo..a confident, cool and street-savy diva." – M Music and Musicians (successor to Performing Songwriter)
Re-Hive Garners Praise
ELMORE MAGAZINE: The Beehive Queen Of Blue-Eyed Soul Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez January, 2009 Re-Hive (HMG Records)
The blue-eyed soul of the beehived soul queen Christine Ohlman astounds any live audience lucky enough to be in her presence. As a veteran and featured vocalist of the SNL band, her finely tuned pipes are often heard, not seen; a huge misfortune for the late night viewer as her charisma onstage is one of a kind. Few singers today are truly versed, like Ohlman, in all things soul. But her encyclopedic knowledge of the genre has only helped refine her powerful voice and enrich her catalog of staple covers. Though she sings Ann Peebles’ “I Can”t Stand the Rain,” as if the song burst forth from her inner being, few know that Ohlman is a seasoned songwriter herself.
Re-Hive retrospectively showcases some of her best original tunes from four previous releases along with some alternate takes, live cuts and unreleased tracks. If the “True Grit” and “Truth Telling” soul queens have a commo descendant, it is Christine Ohlman. Tough and raw around the edges, Ohlman belts with a voice steeped in the heritage of this musical tradition. Even when not singing soul songs, she embodies the power and masked vulnerability essential to the genre.
Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez suffered the loss of long-time friend and producer Doc Cavalier in 2005. Re-Hive is appropriately dedicated to Cavalier. As Christine says, “The four CDs we cut together were Doc’s babies as surely as they were mine.” This collection is a great primer for new Ohlman fans curious about this in-demand lady whose guest spots and collaborations form a daunting list that’s the stuff of musical legend. Look for her first release of original material in five years, The Deep End, due out in early 2009. - Ali Green
The All-Music Guide Review by Hal Horowitz November, 2008 Re-Hive Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez
As its title infers, this 18-track collection is a recap of the recorded career of soulful rocking singer Christine Ohlman, aka the Beehive Queen. A handful of tracks is sampled from each of her three studio releases (1996’s The Hard Way, 2000’s Wicked Time, and Strip from 2003), but the real fun comes courtesy of the smattering of live, demo, and alternate takes along with two newly recorded blues covers, all debuting here. Ohlman never sings a tune halfway. She injects soul and inspiration through every note, wringing the last drop of emotion out of material tailored for her husky voice. Her tough, urban approach to originals swaggers like a street punk looking for a rumble on the rough side of town. She’s the distaff side of Willy DeVille, strutting down the avenue with a sassy attitude hiding a heart of gold. Her rugged Rebel Montez band is primed for its supporting role, acting as the swampy rock heart that pumps blood into the veins of songs that never overstay their welcome. Versions of Dan Penn’s “It Tears Me Up,” Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor,” and John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples” highlight the blues influences underpinning Ohlman’s originals, which dominate the disc. She’s the leader of the pack, and if the Shangri-Las were making rock music in the ‘90s, it would likely sound something like “Sugar Melts,” a sexed-up story that exudes all the spunk of Mary Weiss in cougar mode. Throaty ballads such as the Springsteen-styled “The Hard Way” don’t lessen the tension, either, even if the guitars lay back a bit more. Why the public never caught on to Ohlman’s albums is hard to say, but this generous compilation is a terrific introduction to a singer/songwriter who owns everything she touches.
New Haven Advocate 12/25/08 By Christopher Arnott and Vivian Nereim Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez, Re-Hive (HMG Records)
Here’s a retrospective that’s been done for all the right reasons. It’s a sterling tribute to the life and work of spare-yet-flashy Rebel Montez guitarist Eric Fletcher, who died in 2006. It’s well-timed to ride the coattails of the resurgence of interest in TV’s “Saturday Night Live,” which Ohlman has served as houseband vocalist for decades. Most of all, it documents the revered Beehive Queen’s remarkable consistency as an R&B vocalist over the years and validates her choice to scale down from her regional party band days (with the legendary Scratch Band) to this eccentric blues-schooled roots-rockin’ ensemble. The selections from previous CO&RM CDs (dating back to ‘95) are bolstered by previously unreleased tracks (including a charmingly vulnerable demo of “It Tears Me Up”) or alternate tracks (a chatty live version of “And God Created Woman”) that serve to prove that this is a band that labors hard and cuts loose with style.
Press Praise for Strip
Husky voiced tough gals seldom get any more fiery than Christine Ohlman. Like a female Bruce Springsteen or Southside Johnny, she uses her encyclopedic knowledge of soul, blues and swaggering leader of the pack 60s girl group pop to texture her mini-dramas that exude a distinct urban sensibility. It’s no coincidence that she covers Dion, one of NYC’s most streetwise singers, in “Daddy, Rollin’ in Your Arms,” and turns it into a percussive epic overflowing with intense sexual tension. This is rocking soul that comes from the heart. The intensity never lets up until the closing, mostly acoustic ballad “Tough and Tender,” a perfect metaphor for Ohlman’s own personality. Hal Horowitz, The All-Music Guide
Please click here for the entire All-Music Guide review
“Wicked, wild, and wanton, full of heathen rock n’ roll, crazed jungle voodoo, hillbilly hellfire, and sinful soul music. In a word... it’s great” Mark J. Cadigan, Syndicated
“From pelvis-grinders like the Latin-infused title track or the percussive Dion tune ‘Daddy Rollin’ (In Your Arms),’ through slow ditties like ‘Tough and Tender,’ there’s both the honest, bluesy feeling of travelin’ the rough road (and surviving) as well as the hopped-up promise of some sweaty, post-closing time nookie. 13 tracks of simmering and smoky R&B.” Craig Gilbert, New Haven Advocate
“Full-tilt boogie - a driving album that finds Ohlman in strong voice, singing about long nights and hard loving.” Ralph Hohman, Record-Journal
“A raging torrent of diving musical complexity... I have found my musical muse - Nirvana in the shape of a woman with a beehive hairdo. Christine’s soft, sultry magnetic charm lures me like a moth to a flame, and like a bumblebee in search of a marigold, I find my flower every time I’m in her presence.” Beef Stew/Sunday Night Blues/106.9FM WCCC
“The cut ‘Another Country’ represents what I love about her writing, and is really perfect rock and perfect Christine. She seems to have cranked it up another notch, which is totally incredible!” Randy Labbe/Grammy-nominated producer
“I know you must be proud of such a wonderful record. Your voice is as terrific as ever - actually better than I have ever heard you, and the band really tight. And your writing is so through the roof! When are you guys doing your Southern tour?” Van Duren/Memphis TN
“She writes kick-ass lyrics - lyrics with depth, and meaning, and soul, and heart” Dean Farrell/Soul Express/WHUS-FM
“Just heard “Strip,” WOW. It rocks... Excellent! Very intense work. We love it!” “Uncle Joe” Cimino & Frankie Grima/”The Studio” Radio Hour/Syndicated
“Christine’s singing and songwriting are just more superb and arresting with each CD (as if perfection could be improved upon). Doc Cavalier did a fine job - a real nice touch at the beginning of ‘Empty.’ Eric Fletcher is awfully good - lead or slide; he really burns on ‘Highway 61.’ This is really something else - the greatest one so far!” Calvin Saxton/Indie Collector
“The CD is wonderful. The singing and songs are amazing and the production, mixing, etc. are as good and better than anything I’ve heard recorded. WOW!” Mitch Chakour (Joe Cocker)
“Cub would be proud to have the dedication, as am I” Lady J. Koda
“CD Just arrived and it looks (and sounds) great. Congratulations on another hit!” Richard Brunkner/Confidential Recordings
“Great Record!” Vinnie Penn/WKCI-FM
“Purchased ‘Strip,’ can’t stop spinning. Great band, great voice... sends chills down your spine.”
“It’s a great record. The singing is just so intensely soulful and passionate on every cut. And the songs kick ass! You’ve really outdone yourself this time. MEGA-SOUL! Bravo, Chris, and the guys in the band, too!”
Wicked Praise For Wicked Time
“This you gotta hear... The Blonde strikes again!” - Vinyl Junkie
“‘When I Work My Thang’ is Johnny Otis singing a swamp theme to a movie Burt Reynolds wished he’d made.” - Andrew Loog Oldham
“Tracks like the bone-chilling ‘Turn’ (this one’ll give you the willies, I swear) and the seductive ‘Circle ‘Round The Sun’ are just two of the hidden treasures on this mighty slab of music.” - Cub Koda/The All Music Guide
“...with ‘Circle’ complementing any TV or film score scene about the contemplation and consideration of a new love, ‘Wicked Time’ offers up more than a handful of radio-ready tunes.” - Get Fancy/Summer 2000
“...a strong, smoky, sexy voice doesn’t stop coming out of the speakers... you’ll find reason to play it over and over again. Cool beehive hairdo too!” - NY Rock.com
“Eric Fletcher’s guitar work peppers the mix with tasty fills and sometimes surprisingly savage lead work, especially scorching on ‘I Idolize You.’ The team of bassist Michael Colbath and drummer Larry Donahue is as solid as they come, bringing to mind the economy of the Stax rhythm section.” - Vinyl Junkie
And from Nine Volt with the highest rating (4 CDs):
“For every slick, over-produced, corporate-hyped marketing concept like Britney Spears or Mariah Carey, there’s a real singer like Christine Ohlman; the Anti-Mariah, if you will. You may have seen her singing with the Saturday Night Live Band, all towering blonde beehive and funky but chic wardrobe. She’s got a truckload of sass and a set of killer pipes to back up the attitude. We’re talking total package here, kids.”
Critics acclaim ‘Radio Queen’
“Twelve tracks of all meat/no filler good ol’ R&B rock & roll with soulful vocals courtesy of she with the colossal follicles. Recorded during a live studio broadcast on WPKN, this CD is roadside diners at midnight, a band giving its all in a smoky bar for four patrons and slightly tipsy, dirty dancing on a scalding August night. If the seventh track, ‘The Seventh Sons’ doesn’t get you up and Bo-Diddley-ing around the floor, you’re pulseless.” Craig Gilbert, New Haven Advocate
“I host a weekly late Saturday night show and ever since I got RADIO QUEEN I am hard-pressed to find songs which cut to the core better (by any artist) than ‘Turn’ of ‘Edge Of The World’.” Dan Loftus, WCNI-FM
“I can vouch for this album; I was there, at WPKN in Bridgeport on a snowy night in February, 1996. Live is where Christine and her group make their living, and it’s where they really stand out. And I mean they stand out the way her white beehive ‘do’ does.” Fran Fried, New Haven Register
Critics rave about The Hard Way
(HMG 1175 /original release Deluge 3011)
“The first thing you notice is her tough, rousing, sexy voice”.
Charles M. Young, Playboy
“When ex-Rolling Stone manager Andrew Loog Oldham calls you to tell you how wonderful an American singer is - then you take notice. After all, this is the man who took a full-page ad out in the music papers at his own expense to tell the world what a great record ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ by the Righteous Brothers was. And he could be on the right track again with Christine Ohlman, a blue-eyed blonde with the vocal talents of a Bonnie Raitt crossed with Janis Joplin…”
Jon Clarke, TODAY (London)
“The number-one secret weapon in America’s gal singin’ sweepstakes… It’s now time for America to get very hip to Christine Ohlman, because musical treasures don’t come along like this very often.”
Cub Koda, Goldmine/All-Music Guide
“You can hit shuffle-play and come up with a winner every time, but major highlights include ‘Then God Created Woman’, where Ohlman spits out the hook like Tina Turner fronting the Rolling Stones, making it the epic moment of the album and a rockin’ delight.”
CD REVIEW (Performance Rating: 9)
“Ohlman is about to rearrange your furniture. This is a full-tilt, rockin’ debut from the Saturday Night Live Band singer.”
Victory Review, Seattle W
“A fiery mix of catchy roots rock and soulful, impassioned vocals. Ohlman can move from a smoky whisper to a heavy growl in a heartbeat; she does just that on ‘My Secret Heart’, which is boosted by Eric Fletcher’s bluesy electric guitar moans.”
Mark J. Cadigan, Blueswire (Rating: 4 stars)
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