Linda Jones ‘The Complete Atco, Loma and Warner Brother Recordings’ (Real Gone Music/Rhino) 5/5

linda-jonesDeep soul singer Linda Jones hit the big time with a major R & B and pop success in 1967 with ‘Hypnotized’, but although she scored minor hits subsequently, Jones never again enjoyed that degree of popular acclaim and sadly passed away in 1972 aged only forty-two. Soul music was deprived of one of its most gifted and distinctive voices. Her influence can be heard on later singers, notably Teena Marie who bears a remarkable similarity in tone. While there is some overlap with an earlier re-issue on the Collectables label, this new anthology is superior and features several songs previously unavailable on CD, notably from the Turbo label 45s.This writer immediately warmed to the gritty soul laid down on ‘Make me surrender (baby, baby please)’ and the saxophone solo is straight out of the funky King Curtis school. Of course the stunning beautiful ballad ‘Hypnotized’ was a worthy chart entry and its flip side, the northern soul stomper, ‘I can’t stop lovin’ my baby’ has gone on to become a favourite on dancefloors and in a similar vein is the non-holds barred ‘You can’t take that’. The follow-up to ‘Hypnotized’ continued in the balladry tradition ‘What’ve I done (to make you mad)’ is a quality song that should have fared better. A real discovery to these ears was the Philly International sounding ‘If only (we had met sooner)’ which is in fact produced by Norman Harris at Sigma studios and it has been remarked that it could easily be a vintage O’Jays song. Sounding as though it belongs to the Motown hit stable, ‘A last minute miracle’, comes across as a punchy, brassy number while the mid-tempo ‘Fugitive from love’ has a decidedly gospel-blues flavour that showcases what a versatile singer Linda Jones could be. Out on a different limb is the glorious cover of Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Yesterday’ while ‘I who have nothing’ was a credible alternative version to that of both Dee Dee Warwick and the later interpretation by Ben E. King. Highly informative sleeve notes courtesy of British born, but long-time US resident David Nathan, round off an outstanding re-issue.

Tim Stenhouse