Darlene Love is in the Rock and Roll hall of Fame (2011- better late than never), and she’s revered as a pop pioneer. But guess what? She never made a solo album— until now. How is that possible? She had lots of singles, a few under her own name, but mostly as The Crystals and other Phil Spector “groups.” Phil didn’t want her to become a solo star name.
Now Little Steve van Zandt has finally made “Introducing Darlene Love,” with all new songs by a murderer’s row of star songwriters– Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Linda Perry, Joan Jett, Michael des Barres, Jimmy Webb, and legends Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
The album is out today, and it’s like an audio valentine to Darlene’s fans and fans of all great pop and rock music. van Zandt’s clear love for Darlene is unmistakable. He’s put her trademark vocals front and center in every song (except the bombastic “Who Under Heaven” by Webb, which would have been better off without an orchestral break– it’s otherwise very catchy).
The songs are crafted just for Darlene, as is the production. New songs from Costello and Springsteen are a delight. van Zandt himself — a terrific songwriter– contributes two stellar numbers. And Walter Hawkins’s classic gospel song “Marvelous” is the thrilling capper. “Sweet Freedom” by Mann and Weil is absolute perfection. And I’m really digging a re-think of “River Deep Mountain High” as an added bonus. I could listen to her belt that out all day!
Darlene starred in the Oscar winning doc “20 Feet from Stardom,” but now she is the star at last. What a lovely thing. Kudos to van Zandt and company, but even more to Darlene.