Jennifer Warnes

Love Lifts Us Up: A Collection 1969-1983

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Raven Records, Australia's premier reissue label, does it again with the first true retrospective of pop chanteuse Jennifer Warnes. While it only covers her formative and blockbuster years (it cuts off well before Famous Blue Raincoat), it nonetheless sheds light on one of the truly brilliant song stylists who, in the crystalline grain of her voice, embodied -- whether she was on the charts or not -- the true restless spirit of radio pop from the era. Indeed, she is a perfect pop vocalist. The album is divided up into three sections. There are tracks from her first three albums, issued between 1968 and 1972, beginning with her cover of Joni Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning" and Lennon and McCartney's "Here, There and Everywhere." Her single of "Easy to Be Hard," recorded while she was in the Los Angeles production of Hair (she played Sheila), came from her second album, See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me, and was issued three months before the Three Dog Night version. This is the only cut from the sophomore effort, but her only Warner album in 1972 (called simply, Jennifer) is well represented here by covers of Jackson Browne's "These Days," Jimmy Webb's "P.F. Sloan," Barry Gibb's "In the Morning," and Donovan's "Sand and Foam." John Cale produced the album. The second half of this disc kicks off with one of the greatest pop singles of the 1970s; in Pete McCann's "Right Time of the Night," Warnes had found her place. In its plaintive yet dynamic delivery one can hear the everyday ache of lovers everywhere. Full of light and joy, it offered a different view of desire than had been heard on the radio before. Her version of the Jagger/Richards classic "Shine a Light" sounds as if it had been written for her, and carries within its melody and articulation the same reckless, wanton country-soul Linda Ronstadt did in her version of "Hasten Down the Wind." Her own "I'm Restless" is also included here, offering a mere hint of what was to come as Warnes became an absolutely wonderful songwriter. The hits kept on coming for Warnes; they are reflected here in her authoritative and soulful reads of Randy Newman's "One More Time" and Rick Cunha's "When the Feeling Comes Around," and in the third section of the album that features her other huge hits, the duets with Joe Cocker on "Up Where We Belong," with Steve Gillette on "Lost the Good Thing We Had," and with Chris Thompson on 1983's "All the Right Moves." As a document, Love Lifts Us Up is flawless and necessary. The only thing that would be better is the re-release of her albums in their entirety on CD.

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