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Darren; Jenny: Heartbreaker – Best Of 1977 – 1980

Oh how talent slips through our fingers and is left to be forgotten. Unfortunately that is the main sentiment you are left with after being utterly bowled over by the power and character of the voice of Jenny Darren. A singer who really deserves to be a household name, rather than one finding nineteen of her 35-plus year old tracks receiving their first outing on CD.

So thanks to reissue (and more) specialists Angel Air, ladies and gentlemen, here is a singer who could have rivalled Janis Joplin for power, handles a track which made Pat Benatar's name, with ease and slides smoothly from rock to pop, funk to soul and so much more. In fact Darren is now a more familiar face to followers of jazz, than she is the pointed rock this "best of" demonstrates so ably. Bringing together songs from her four albums between 1977 and 1980, this collection shows the talent and versatility of this lady to the full.

The likes of the string infused "Grand Canyon Of Dreams" and "Too Many Lovers" finds Darren in reflective mood, her voice in check, the atmosphere one of lost loves and opportunities. Whereas "Ready Steady Eddie" offers an altogether more upbeat poppy slice of funk, where Darren's voice uses a rich, deep, bottom end to counterpoint the occasional glass shattering screams, while "I Got Feeling" brings the funk to the full, a roaming bass line taking centre stage and ably staying there. If however you're looking to hear this lady use the full power in her voice, crank up the volume and soak in "I'm A Woman (I'm A Backbone)" where the vocal force she can call on is something to behold. But then again, the same can be said for "Love Potion No 9", "City Lights", or the steamrollering "Ladykiller".

While you may not have heard of Jenny Darren before, the opening track won't be such a stranger, "Heartbreaker" the song that took Pat Benatar to fame. However this version by Darren was recorded earlier and had the label's slowness in releasing it as a single not resulted in Benatar beating her to the punch – and the charts – history could have been very different. Here the song is grittier and less polished, meaning that in the end it makes an even harder impact, although the excellent slice of early 80s atmospheric rock, "Skydiver" (one of three songs to feature future Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain!) ably rivals it for the title of best song in sight.

If you visit Jenny Darren's sparsely populated website, you'll see that her biography closes with the words "Jenny Darren really is… a singer!". If ever there was an understatement, that's it right there.

Track Listing
1. Heartbreaker -1978
2. Lay Me Like A Lady -1978
3. Grand Canyon Of My Dreams -1980
4. I'm A Woman -1978
5. Too Many Lovers -1978
6. Taking It For The Love -1978
7. Ready Steady Eddie -1980
8. Burning Love -1978
9. I Got The Feeling -1978
10. I'm A Woman (I'm A Backbone) -1978
11. So Many People -1978
12. Love Potion No 9 -1977
13. We Had it All -1977
14. Use What You Got -1978
15. City Lights -1977
16. The Wind Talking To The Pines -1978
17. Skydiver -1980
18. I Keep It Hid -1978
19. Ladykiller -1978

Added: December 29th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Jenny Darren at Angel Air
Hits: 1761
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Darren; Jenny: Heartbreaker – Best Of 1977 – 1980
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-12-29 12:52:03
My Score:

What a revelation!

This album pulls together 18 songs you've probably never heard before and one that became a smash hit for somebody else. But this is good stuff — enough to frustrate you about why tough-chick vocalist Jenny Darren never became as popular as Pat Benatar or Chrissie Hynde.

Two members of her band in the late-Seventies — keyboard player Cliff Wade and drummer Geoff Gill — wrote the rousing rocker "Heartbreaker" for Darren, and she recorded it in 1978. Her record label at the time sat on the album and failed to release it before Benatar came along and built her career on "Heartbreaker." Kudos to Angel Air for treating Darren with the respect she deserves in this thoroughly entertaining anthology.

The raw and raunchy "Lay Me Like a Lady" lends credence to Angel Air's claim that Darren "could have given Joplin a run for her money." And her interpretation of Lieber/Stoller's "Love Potion No. 9" might be the best one out there. Every song on this album, including three featuring Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain (who played on 1980's Jenny Darren 2) is fun to hear — even the dated-sounding ballads "Too Many Lovers" and "The Wind Talking to the Pines." Heartbreaker emerges as 68 minutes of worthwhile and enlightening rock history.

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