Linda belongs to
the small group of artists that serious soul music fans have strong and often
opposite opinions about. For some she’s too histrionic and melismatic, while
for others she’s the deepest and most exciting songstress there is. Her style
certainly is extremely gospel-infused, ecstatic and in her vocal dynamics she
never holds back. You simply can’t have an indifferent approach to her and her
music. She leaves nobody cold.
years a number of compilations have been released on her, but I believe they
are mostly deleted by now, so this new anthology named Precious comes
in need. Linda’s recording career can roughly be divided into four parts:
recordings on Cub, Atco and Blue Cat in 1963-66;
2) the Loma stint
3) two Neptune
singles in 1969-70;
4) the Turbo
period in 1971-72.
They put out one
album on Loma (Hypnotized in 1967) and three on Turbo in the early 70s.
sample on this set is Linda’s perky and captivating cover of Jackie Wilson’s
Lonely Teardrops on Cub Records in 1963.On the label it reads Linda
Lane, which was her stage name those days. Her Atco single in 1965, I’m
Taking Back My Love, is a bit poppy and it was backed with a fast rocker
titled Take the Boy out of the Country. Fugitive from Love (on
Blue Cat in 1966) is a big beat-ballad. Already in 1964 Linda had met George
Kerr, who became her producer throughout the rest of her career, as well as
a co-writer of many of her hits, often with the Poindexter Brothers.
The very first
Loma single in the summer of 1967 turned into Linda’s biggest hit – the emotive
and mesmerizing ballad named Hypnotized (# 4 – rhythm & blues / # 21
– pop). Other pleading ballads from that period include Give My Love a Try (#
34 / 93) and What’ve I Done (to Make You Mad) (# 8 / 61), and there’s
also one northern favourite, My Heart Needs a Break ( # 50), which was
penned by Sammy Turner. Indeed, one might think that a retrospect of
Linda Jones is one big cavalcade of deep soul ballads, but for variety on this
set there are as many as seven uptempo numbers.
Linda recorded a couple of covers, too. Her interpretation of the O’Jays’
I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (# 45) digs a lot deeper, as well as a
passionate version of Jimmy Norman’s Can You Blame Me? The rest
two big-voiced and breath-taking ballads are That’s When I’ll Stop Loving
You and Ooh Baby You Move Me, composed by Samuel Bell and
another no-restraints lady, Lorraine Ellison.
On Turbo she
charted three times and all three were melismatic ballads. First single was
the dramatic and fervent Stay with Me Forever (# 47), followed by Your
Precious Love (# 15 / 74), which has the same recitation that Oscar
Toney Jr. came up with already in the early 60s in his shows. A cover of the
Moments’ Not on the Outside (# 32)is so improvised and
“gospelized” that it becomes almost unrecognizable. For some reason Linda’s
dramatic version of the oft-recorded Goffin-King ballad I Can’t Make
It Alone didn’t chart, but – with the exception of Lou Rawls – it
never became a sizeable hit for anybody. It was originally written for the
Righteous Brothers (actually Bill Medley recorded it later), but P.J.
Proby did the original version... and that spectoresque single is still my
favourite take on the song.
Not only in her
voice, but there was pain also in Linda’s life. Born and based in Newark, New
Jersey, she passed in March 1972 at the age of only 27 after slipping into a
diabetic coma. (8)