Angel Air Records (label)
06 December 2015 (released)
26 January 2016
Jenny Darren is, together with the incompatible Maggie Bell, one of that rare breed baptized ‘raunchy rock chick’ yet Britain’s rock history has unfortunately never been littered with too many of those specimens. After a promising start at an early age the future seemed bright and almost set in stone for the budding singer, but when a certain song written for Jenny was taken to chart gold by one Pat Benatar instead, her rising star began to plummet.
Yes, the female rock anthem ‘Heartbreaker’ was penned by song-writing partners Gill/Wade specifically for Jenny. It was to be the very song meant to catapult the talented singer with the incredible voice to stardom. As so often in the music biz, her then record company “dragged its feet on releasing it as a single” and well… Pat Benatar happened to hear the track and recorded it. Not only that, but Benatars version went on to chart in the USA. A true heartbreaker for Jenny indeed!
Heartbroken she may have been (who wouldn’t be?) but she soldiered on regardless, quickly earning herself a reputation as one hell of a live performer thanks to her impressive vocal range and her sheer dynamic professionalism. Not contend with sticking to certain musical genres, Jenny is equally at home in rock-land as she is in ballad or pop-rock land. The tracks on this album were mainly recorded between 1977-1980, and mostly at the famous 10CC Strawberry Studios. Jenny was by then supporting the likes of AC/DC on tour (“the archetypal Australian chauvinists” according to Jenny). In addition, she was performing at all the major festivals like Reading and Knebworth, and supporting Streetwalker and Patti Smith on tour, proving there is some justice after all in the rock ‘n’ roll firmament.
Opener ‘Heartbreaker’ is the song which… yep, you read the story before. Only that this time it’s Jenny Darren’s version and performed as intended… Those good souls at Angel Air Records really do have a knack for ‘resurrecting’ either almost forgotten or underrated artists! There is a fair mix across the 19 tracks we get, incorporating rock, funky blues, bluesy rock and softer fare. Tracks 3 / 7 / and 17 even features Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain on drums!
‘Grand Canyon Of My Dreams’ starts out with a symphonic intro, courtesy of the David Katz Orchestra. In fact, strings prevail throughout this beautifully crafted soft rock affair which brings Jenny’s voice nicely to the fore. ‘Ready Steady Eddie’ is another dreamy rock ballad full of soul and shows just how much clarity is in Jenny’s voice (when she opts not to do that raunchy thing!).
‘I Got The Feeling’ is a slick composition despite an energetic funky groove, while ‘So Many People’ bring us back to smoother fields again. But low and behold – Jenny really kicks and belts out during ‘Love Potion Nr. 9’ – really, I’d like a drop of that potion, and the brilliant sax interlude makes it all the more potent!
It get’s very bluesy and full-on raunchy on ‘Use What You Got’ and for sure Jenny uses best what she’s got, which is one hell of a voice. The unique ‘City Lights’ skillfully fuses snazzy 70’s disco-funk with truck-loads of soul, though it is the track ‘Skydiver’ which in my opinion stands out the most: a fabulous rock sound glides into softer pop terrain and back again to harder rhythms, all the while we can hear cool strings and some quirky sounds backing up this little gem.
A real treat this for all you Jenny Darren fans out there, and as for the uninitiated: get a copy and allow yourself to get seduced by her truly outstanding talent.