Linda Jones is the sort of performer beloved by hardcore soul fans but barely recognized by mainstream listeners; Jones scored a good-sized hit in 1967 with "Hypnotized," but it was her only tune to crack the Pop Top 40, and listening to her larger body of work, it's not difficult to see why. Jones was a remarkably talented gospel-styled vocalist who was not afraid to get happy in the studio, and the sheer strength of her voice and her willingness to dive into melismatic vocal solos is what made her the stuff of legend (especially among Northern soul mavens) while making her music a bit too strong for the pop audience. It's worth noting that "Hypnotized" was an unusually subdued performance by Jones' standards, while her full-on style is best heard on her 1972 recording of "Your Precious Love," released by Turbo Records shortly before Jones' unexpected death at the age of 27. Jones enjoyed her greatest commercial success while recording for Loma Records, Warner Bros.' R&B-oriented subsidiary, in the '60s, and The Complete Atco-Loma-Warner Brothers Recordings features everything she released on the label, as well as a pre-Loma single that appeared on Atco and another 45 that was released by Warner Bros. after Loma went out of business. On these 21 tracks, Jones shows she wasn't one to hold back when she stepped in front of a microphone, and "Give My Love a Try," "The Things I've Been Through (Loving You)," and "I Who Have Nothing" confirm she was as powerful and impassioned as any female vocalist in '60s soul, while her cover of the Beatles' "Yesterday" is a superb example of how she could make a song her own. Unfortunately, the material on The Complete Atco-Loma-Warner Brothers Recordings also makes it clear Jones was often a better singer than the material may have merited, and even though she herself is impressive throughout, not all the songs are as memorable as the person who sings them (though "It Won't Take Much to Bring Me Back" and "What've I Done [To Make You Mad]" show she knew what to do with a good tune when it came her way). Jones certainly deserved a more successful career (and a longer life) than she received, and her work merits a more complete overview than The Complete Atco-Loma-Warner Brothers Recordings, but this does put a fistful of fine soul sides back into print, and fans of vintage soul owe it to themselves to hear this splendid and overlooked singer at the top of her game.
The Complete ATCO, Loma & Warner Brothers Recordings Review
by Mark Deming