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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Amazing Love

Darlene Love has an amazing voice and, come December, she has been amazing us each year in NYC, recently at BB King's. Yet, each show I go to, I find myself electrified and amazed all over again by her voice. Powerful, yet seemingly effortless, she is the Energizer Bunny of vocalists, spanning generations with a voice that not only keeps going and going and going, but actually seems to get better with time.

At tonight's show, Ms Love had a very special surprise. She generously shared the stage with her sister, Edna Wright.
Edna may best be known as the lead vocalist for the girl group, Honey Cone, from the early 1970s. Their hits included "Stick Up," "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" and "Want Ads." Honey Cone recorded these hits in 1971, at a time when soul and girl group sounds were fusing into what was the nascent disco sound, which they certainly helped spearhead.

Darlene and sister Edna did a potent duet, covering "Hold On, I'm Coming," originally done by Sam & Dave. Eds was then left to her own devices as her big sister went offstage. She did "One Monkey" and "Want Ads," sandwiching a soulful version of "The Christmas Song" ("Chestnuts roasting...") betwixt those numbers.

Ms Love also amazed by looking trim and fit in black with sparkles, unbelievable for a woman around 70! She attributed her new figure to kickboxing classes. Sign me up! Her eyes brought back the "raccoon" look dramatically, and could help mascara sales immensely if they trend.

Love went through her Phil Spector hits, the "golden moldies" as she called them, knowing her fans insisted. But she belted out each number with total conviction and harnessed energy.
"He's a Rebel," "He's Sure the Boy I Love' and other 1960s numbers were put across in ways that may not have been fresh, but that recreated that Wall of Sound quality in a way her fans expect and associate her with. She had a few funny but not particularly kind asides about Spector, too. Of course, for the season, she included "Marshmallow World" and "Winter Wonderland," keeping the arrangements from the now-classic Wall of Sound album, Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You, in which she played a major part.

Love discussed how Spector had her lay down tracks for "River Deep, Mountain High." One day, she looked up into his recording booth and saw Tina Turner next to him. The rest of this story is history. Nonetheless, Ms Love's rendition is astounding. Below, see her performance of this on The David Letterman Show in 2007, to give you an idea.

For her cover of her friend, Dionne Warwick's, "Don't Make Me Over," the 2011 inductee into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame steps up to the plate and makes it her own in a way few would be able to do. Finally, for her encore, Darlene does her Christmas perennial, "Christmas, Baby Please Come Home," from the Phil Spector Christmas album. It is a song she has been doing for 25 years on David Letterman. She has been in show biz twice that long.

Ms Darlene Love will appear on Letterman December 23rd.

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