Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms
Darlene Love has long been thought of as one of rock guru Phil Spector’s great discoveries, known for such 60s classics as “He’s a Rebel” and “He’s Sure The Boy I Love” – music that influenced a generation of female vocalists still to come (Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, Chrissie Hynde).
Incredibly, it’s been over 50 years since we first encountered the inimitable style of Darlene Love. And now she’s suddenly back to center stage with Introducing Darlene Love, one of the year’s best records due for release on September 18. Produced and flawlessly arranged by Bruce Springsteen’s sideman Stevie Van Zandt (featuring songs by Springsteen, Spector, Van Zandt, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Webb, Linda Perry and Walter Hawkins), the album weds the wanton energy of soul, rock and Gospel to the fine cut-crystal of Love’s voice to create a collection that will certainly come to compete with the legend of Love’s early canon.
There isn’t a weak song in the bunch, and several stand-out: The two Springsteen pieces (“Night Closing In and “Just Another Lonely Mile”) brim with that Jersey feel and give us a taste of what the E Streeters might have sounded like had the Boss ever turned the lead microphone over to a woman. Also, Jimmy Webb’s “Who Under Heaven” flat out cooks, piano-driven gone tear-stained coarse, drenched in the warm longing of the soul.
Meanwhile, the two Elvis Costello cuts collectively serve as the centerpiece of the record: “Forbidden Nights” is a natural fit for radio, Love’s vocal at once soaring and sensual and lush (with Rich Mercurio’s drums mimicking Hal Blaine’s famous back-bone-beat). The other Costello composition, “Still Too Soon To Know” (Love in duet with Bill Medley), waltzes forward smoky and hymn-like, this quiet ode to the golden age of song that was the 1960s.
If you’re too young to have experienced first-hand the excitement that came with hearing a new Darlene Love song ache through the jukebox or car radio, Introducing Darlene Love will cast you back to a place of innocence and faith, shepherding you back to a time when people gathered in the misty fields, steadfastly holding to the belief that music was about to change the world.