You may not know her name, but you certainly know her voice.
Darlene Love – the Best of – CD review – While it would be impossible to compile all of Darlene Love’s finest accomplishments on one collection, The Best of Darlene Love does a fairly good job of bringing together the highlights of her tenure with Phil Spector, her most fruitful commercially. The CD opens with “He’s a Rebel,” credited to the Crystals, but is in fact Darlene on lead vocals.
The song rocketed to #1 in the fall of 1962 and helped solidify Phil Spector’s status as a “rock genius.” Perhaps because of this notoriety, Spector became increasingly erratic in his dealings with his artists. This explains the schizophrenic credits on this CD: Spector would promise Darlene that the next single would be in her name, only to release it as by the Crystals. Next, she’d be credited as Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, for which they cut the odd Disney classic “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” Still other tracks were inexplicably left unreleased, as in Darlene’s original version of “Chapel of Love,” later a monster hit for the Dixie Cups. “A Fine Fine Boy” and “(Today I Met) the Boy I’m Gonna Marry” are both fine examples of her strong clear voice: it’s as if she’s back in the choir singing gospel. The set closes with an added tidbit: “Lord If You’re a Woman,” a failed attempt at a comeback for Spector and Love from 1977.
Disc one packs such a wallop, did one guy do all these songs?
Tommy James – 40 Years – The Complete Singles Collection (Collectors Choice) – CD review – This two-disc set marks the first time that Tommy James’ entire career has been summarized in one collection. “40 Years: The Complete Singles Collection” opens with his very first hit, “Hanky Panky” from 1966 and ends with a string of Adult Contemporary hits from 40 years later.
Disc one focuses on Tommy’s hit-making years and the string of shining moments is an impressive one: “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony Mony,” “Crimson & Clover,” “Mirage,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion” are all timeless classics. One thing that sets this anthology a part from other collections is that, for the first time, the original, mono single versions were used. These were the mixes that were played on AM radio at the time and the ones that the kids of the Sixties bought up on record. Even though disc two chronicles Tommy’s decent into cult artist, the quality of the material remains surprisingly strong. — Tony Peters
I talked with Darlene last night through the miracle of modern technology. Over the Internet, we were able to chat – with me in Ohio and Darlene some thousands of miles away in Australia. She’s preparing for the opening of Fame: The Musical in Melbourne. The morning we talked, she was a little tired from a late-night practice. Later that day were more practices, a dress rehearsal, and finally, the opening night of the show. I felt honored that she took time to talk with us with such a busy schedule.
Although it was certainly nice to chat, trying to conduct an interview over the Internet can be dicey. There were several instances where her voice was a little jumbled. Keep that in mind when you listen to the show. However, it’s a small price to pay to actually talk with such a special lady.
Singer Darlene Love has lent her voice to literally hundreds (and possibly thousands) of recordings over the years. We’ve assembled a list of some of her “Greatest Hits”:
“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – Darlene Love – One of Darlene’s greatest moments. A stone-cold holiday classic from Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift to You. You can close your eyes and feel the snow falling on you.
“He’s a Rebel” – credited to the Crystals, but it’s actually Darlene on lead vocals. Her first #1 hit.
“Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah – Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans – Darlene sings on this Disney classic turned inside-out. Extra points for Billy Strange’s guitar solo that sounds like it’s coming from another planet.
“(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” – Darlene Love – One of the few Spector tracks to actually sport Miss D’s name. Darlene reaches back to her days in the gospel choir for a gutty performance. Imagine her preaching to the congregation about her good news.
“The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” – Betty Everett – Darlene and the Blossoms do the question-asking, like “Is it in his eyes”? sharing the lead vocalis with Betty. The vocal ascending that they do when Betty sings “Kiss him / and squeeze him tight” will send shivers.
“Poor Side of Town” – Johnny Rivers – Darlene & the Blossoms show off their gentler side as they echo Johnny’s verses with sweet sophistication.
“The Right Time” – Bobby Darin – Darlene duets with Bobby on this under-appreciated cut from a lost Darin LP called Bobby Darin Sings Ray Charles
“Brown-Eyed Woman” – Bill Medley – The deep-voiced half of the Righteous Brothers testifies his love for Darlene, while she and her sisters turn up the heat.
“Basketball Jones – Cheech and Chong – Showing that she truly is one of the most versatile of vocalists, Darlene lends her talents to C&C’s parody of the Brighter Side of Darkness “Love Jones.”
Legendary ICON Tommy James, the man behind such hits as “Mony Mony,” “Crimson & Clover,” and “Hanky Panky,” has just written a book entitled “Me, the Mob and the Music: One Helluva Ride With Tommy James & the Shondells.” The book chronicles his career from his humble beginnings in Niles, Michigan, to a regional sensation in Pittsburgh, to a worldwide star. Running parallel with this fame was James’ crazy, often times scary dealings with label exec Morris Levy, who didn’t just have mob connections, he was running dealings right out of his company office. Tommy James talks with Icon Fetch about his new book, new 2-CD “40th Anniversary Singles Collection” and upcoming book signings and gigs.