DJM 1977-1980 / Angel Air 2015
Passion on the rocks: feisty British singer looks back to move on.
Almost not heard of for more than three decades – save for her voice coming out of Dame Mirren’s mouth in 1997’s TV series “Painted Lady” – today Ms Darren is on her way to the fore again, gigging and recording, and there’s no better time to reassess the petite warbler’s legacy. It’s not limited to this collection groovy opener, the riff-laden “Heartbreaker” from her “Queen Of Fools” LP, which would become a hit for Pat Benatar, or to Darren’s opening for acts like AC/DC: Jenny’s emerging now as a missing link between blues singers such as Maggie Bell and riot grrrls of the latter day. Here’s a challenge and a statement in the funky cover of RUFUS’ “I’m A Woman (I’m A Backbone)” off the same album and the “I’m A Woman” boogie which sat in the heart of her self-titled record, also out in 1978, although it’s not the stance, it’s unbridled emotions that still make it all special and relevant.
To feel it, one should go no further than Darren’s 1977 full-length debut “City Lights” with her sultry take on “Love Potion No 9,” while “Lay Me Like A Lady” marries the nigh-on-raunchy romanticism to a brass-oiled scream and honeyed harmonies – the very essence of feminine rock. Yet if the staccato bounce of “Taking It For The Love” is rather resolute, “We Had It All” wraps the regret in gentle cloth, with “Burning Love” swinging on an orchestral wave from delicate desperation to a festive uplift. Just as organic, the disco of “I Got The Feeling” has a bittersweet strain in its spin, and the fierce “Use What You Got” could have come from Muscle Shoals, as there’s a triumphant roar blaring out, whereas “Skydiver” off 1980’s “Jenny Darren” – yes, the second named after the artist – rolls out a Nicko McBrain-propelled acoustically-laced epic drama which somehow predicted the singer’s vanishing from the public eye.
Still, defiant as she is in the hard-rocking “Ladykiller” – that should be renamed “Lady Killer” – Jenny Darren’s returning with a vengeance. Watch out!