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Saturday, 6 March 2021

"Precious: The Anthology 1963-1972" by LINDA JONES – Single and Album Tracks on Cub, Loma, Atco, Blue Cat, Warner Brothers, Neptune, Turbo and Stang Records - featuring The Whatnauts (November 2016 UK Ace/Kent Soul CD Compilation of Duncan Cowell Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Do I Love You...I Do..."

Here's the odd thing. I know that of all the 24-cuts assembled on this comely CD compilation covering Linda Jones' criminally cut-short career (she died early 1972, aged only 27) - I'll probably only play maybe 10 of these songs. Yet despite that, I would still award this CD Anthology a full five-stars in a heartbeat, when it should really be three or four. Why? Because the goodies contained within are the absolute business in my Soul book – they really are. 

Stuff like her debut seven-inch single – a cover of Jackie Wilson's Brunswick hit "Lonely Teardrops" issued May 1963 on the obscure Cub is a starting point (she was only 19) - ok rather than ever rising above that. But once Linda Jones got into her stride - especially between 1967 and 1972 when she was handled by Loma, Neptune, Turbo and Warner Brothers Records and given better material - she was staggering. 

"I Do" from the obscure September 1972 US LP "Let It Be Me" on Turbo Records is a primo example - she wails, she pleads, she moans - it's like Etta James on some serious substances. I just love that abandon-passion, as I suspect many others do too. And don't get me started on the ball-busting "Hypnotized" from 1967 – we could be here for decades. 

Let's waste no more tears and get to one of the most beloved lady singers in the Soul genre and a typically classy homage to her musical legacy by England's Ace Records on their label imprint Kent Soul...

UK released 25 November 2016 (December 2016 in the USA) - "Precious: The Anthology 1963-1972" by LINDA JONES on Ace/Kent Soul CDTOP 458 (Barcode 029667078122) is a 24-Track CD Compilation of Remasters that plays out as follows (71:34 minutes):

1. Hypnotized (May 1967 US 45-single on Loma 2070, A-side)

2. Lonely Teardrops (May 1963 US Debut 45-single on Cub 9124, A-side, as Linda Lane – a Jackie Wilson cover)

3. I'm Taking Back My Love 
4. Take The Boy Out Of The Country (Tracks 4 and 3 [note playing order] are the A&B-sides of a May 1965 US 45-single on Atco 45-6344)

5. Fugitive From Love 
6. You Hit Me Like T.N.T. (Tracks 5 and 6 are the A&B-sides of a July 1966 US 45-single on Blue Cat BC 128)

7. Give My Love A Try (December 1967 US 45-single on Loma 2085, A-side)

8. A Last Minute Miracle (from the August 1967 US LP "Hypnotized" on Loma LS 5907 in Stereo)

9. What I've Done (To Make You Mad) (September 1967 US 45-single on Loma 2077, A-side)

10. My Heart Needs A Break (February 1968 US 45-single on Loma 2091, A-side)

11. That's When I'll Stop Loving You (October 1969 US 45-single on Neptune N-17, B-side to "I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow" - see Track 13 for A-side)

12. I Just Can't Live My Life (Without You Baby) (April 1969 US 45-single on Warner Brothers 7278, B-side of "My Heart (Will Understand)"

13. I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow  (October 1969 US 45-single on Neptune N-17, A-side - see Track 11 for B-side)

14. Can You Blame Me? 
15. Ooh Baby You Move Me (Tracks 15 and 14 [note order] are the A&B-sides of a May 1970 US 45-single on Neptune N26)

16. I Do 
17. If Only We Had Met Sooner (Tracks 16 and 17 from the September 1972 US LP "Let It Be Me" on Turbo Records TU-7008)

18. I Can't Make It All Alone (November 1971 US 45-single on Turbo TU 017, A-side)

19. Stay With Me Forever (May 1971 US 45-single on Turbo TU 012, A-side - for B-side see Track 23) 

20. Behold (from the May 1972 US LP "Your Precious Love" on Turbo TU-7007)

21. Not On The Outside (May 1972 US 45-single on Turbo TU 024, A-side)

22. I'm So Glad I Found You (Linda Jones & The Whatnauts) (June 1972 US 45-single on Stang 5039, A-side)

23. I've Given You The Best Years Of My Life (May 1971 US 45-single n Turbo TU 012, B-side to "Stay With Me Forever" - for A-side see Track 19)

24. Your Precious Love (February 1972 US 45-single on Turbo TU 021, A-side)

Tracks 1, 7, 8, 9, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 24 in STEREO
Tracks 2 to 6, 10 to 15, 18 and 23 in MONO   

Outside of three deep LP cuts from 1972, the remaining 23 entries are single sides, Ace cleverly choosing the lesser-trodden path of B-sides that to my knowledge have never been on CD before. You could argue that someone somewhere should really do a full-on Anthology for Linda Jones because again as far as I know in 2021, neither of the albums featured here on Turbo have ever been on CD anywhere in the world. So what do you get? 

The 16-page booklet is headed-up with TONY ROUNCE liner notes that acknowledges how her legend has grown amongst Deep Soul collectors in the last five decades – a sort female version of Chuck Jackson or Tommy Tate. All of those rare US 45-single labels for Loma, Warner Bros, Stang, Turbo, Atco, Blue Cat, Neptune and so on are pictured amongst the text and facts. The two Turbo LPs are here too as is the Loma "Hypnotized" album that actually charted in October 1967 eventually achieving an impressive No. 26 on the US R&B LP charts. "Your Precious Love" would hit the US LP charts in June 1972 (shortly after its release in May) and achieve a peak placing of No. 35. There are trade adverts for Loma Records and a French picture sleeve for the magical Northern Soul-ish "Hypnotized" graces the rear sleeve (tasty all around, as usual). Long-standing Audio Engineer for Ace Records DUNCAN COWELL has done the Remasters and they are lovely – pleasing for me to hear more Stereo than Mono – though both have punch and clarity. To the music...

"Precious: The Anthology..." opens on a barnstormer - the gorgeous melodrama of "Hypnotized". It hit the US R&B singles chart weeks after release in late June 1967 whereupon Loma 2070 rose to a deserved No. 4 position. Her first album by the same name would follow into the R&B LP charts. With its bells and brass and slow lurch - the all-it-took was just-one-little-look pleader sailed its way into Northern Soul hearts with a speeding bullet. 

Linda Jones has always been a fave of NS fans - in fact when WEA were assaulting the British marketplace in 2002, 2003, 2004 with volume after volume of single CD/2LP sets like "Funky Drops" and so on - their "After Hours...Northern Soul Masters" Series showcased Linda with "My Heart Needs A Break" on Volume 1, "Just Can't Live My Life" on Volume 2 and "A Last Minute Miracle" on Volume 3. Loma played it smart by following the breakthrough of "Hypnotized" with the equally beautiful "What've I Done (To Make You Mad)" - the ballad rewarding the Warner Brothers distributed label with a No. 8 hit single in October 1967 (Loma 2077). 

This set also features her other four US R&B chart entries - "Give My Love A Try" (Loma 2085, entered January 1968, peaked at No. 34), "That's When I'll Stop Loving You" (Neptune N-17, entered January 1970, peaked at No. 40), "Your Precious Love" (Turbo 021, entered February 1972, peaked at No. 15) and "Not On The Outside" (Turbo 024, entered June 1972 and peaked at No. 32). Another Northern Soul fave is "I Just Can't Live My Life (Without You Baby)" - the much-sought B-side of her only single on the Warner Brothers label "My Heart (Will Understand)". I also like her cover of The O'Jays "I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today)" - an early song for them in October 1967 on Bell 691. And on it goes...

Rounce quite rightly argues that had she lived to fulfil her potential, Linda Jones would be up there with more revered/famous names like Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick and Etta James - and he's right. But you have to say that once again Ace's Kent Soul have pulled off a CD winner to honour her tantalising and indeed hypnotising legacy. RIP you sweet lady...

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INDEX - Entries and Artist Posts in Alphabetical Order