Generally associated with the sub-genre of Outsider Music, The Space Lady, (Susan Dietrich Schneider), is a real find for anyone on a constant search for the new, not in this case just for its 'odd factor' but for the sheer quality of the music itself. Conceived in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico at the time of the reputed Flying Saucer crash, a factor that surely impacts deeply on the other-worldly nature of the music she went on to make, in the 1980s and '90s Schneider achieved a small local profile as a street musician in Boston and San Francisco. Wearing a plastic silver winged hat topped with a flashing light and initially accompanying herself with accordion, she upgraded in 1983 to the Casiotone MT-40 battery operated keyboard which is when she really found her sound.
Playing a few original numbers, supplemented by some highly inventive and haunting covers, this stuff sounds utterly pioneering thirty years on. Thankfully The Space Lady has advanced considerably in terms of profile over the intervening years, largely due to the inclusion of her cover of The Electric Prunes, I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night on the fabulous 2000 compilation Songs in the Key of Z, which set off a gratifying rediscovery of her music which has continued ever since. She's now touring the world playing to enthusiastic and appreciative audiences.
The Space Lady's music is truly all about space. The compilation Space Lady's Greatest Hits. released three years back and still readily available. makes a compelling case for her virtues. Suicide, the legendary CBGB's duo, is probably the most apt comparison point in terms of what this all draws on and the ghostly effect of the songs. Silver Apples, an important inspiration for Suicide and Laurie Anderson are also worth mentioning. Whether she actually took on the influence of the three of these is frankly by the by. She's certainly operating in a similar space.
The Space Lady's approach to covers is particularly worthy of comment. Among their number are the aforementioned Electric Prunes song, Steppenwolf's Born to be Wild, Peter Schilling's Major Tom, The Doors 20th Century Fox, Sweet's Ballroom Blitz, Golden Earring's Radar Love, Steve Miller's Fly Like an Eagle and the Irving Berlin standard, Puttin' on the Ritz. What's great about all of these is that she doesn't choose to enter the original's universe, instead dragging them triumphantly into her own, thereby shedding new light on the songs she's covering each and every time.
Also featured on Space Lady's Greatest Hits are a clutch of originals penned by Schneider's former husband Joel L Dunsany. These slot perfectly in with the covers and make a claim as small classics in their own right.
So, The Space Lady, my own small personal discovery of yesterday and an artist I'll surely keep coming back to time and time again for her incredibly personalised sound and vision. For more on this artist click here.