Personnel: Darlene Love (vocals).
Audio Mixer: Bob Clearmountain.
Recording information: Renegade Studios, NYC; Star Trax Studio.
Photographers: Scott Hueston; Paul Osmolskis.
Arrangers: Chris Jahnke; Stan Harrison.
Darlene Love has one of the strongest and most immediately recognizable voices in the history of pop and rock music, but she's never been much of a star on her own; Love's most memorable moments were as part of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound crew, where she sang as part of the Crystals and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, as well as cutting a few tracks under her own name and delivering the epochal version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on Spector's legendary Christmas album. Love has always had the talent to be a frontwoman, but fate seemed to have other ideas, and none of Love's solo albums caught the ear of the larger public, despite her enduring talent. Superfan Steven Van Zandt, longtime member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, decided it was high time someone did something about that, especially after Love's appearance in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, and Van Zandt is the producer and idea man behind Introducing Darlene Love, a grand-scale album designed to give Love the glossy showcase she deserves. Van Zandt's production, however, most often aims to emulate Spector's widescreen singles of the '60s, and as a consequence most of the songs on Introducing seem determined to move Love back into the past, despite the presence of fine new material from noted Love admirers Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, Linda Perry, Jimmy Webb, and Van Zandt (whose "Among the Believers," a passionate political number, is one of the few moments on this album that feels honestly contemporary). But if the album is sometimes too busy and big for its own good, Love triumphs over it all; she was in her mid-seventies when these tracks were recorded, but no one would ever guess, as she sounds as strong, passionate, and precise as she did when she was cutting those classic Crystals singles, and when she belts out "Forbidden Nights," "Just Another Lonely Mile," or "Who Under Heaven," Introducing is truly a convincer, proving Darlene Love still holds the title of one of rock and R&B's greatest vocalists. And the final two tracks, "Marvelous" and "Jesus Is the Rock (That Keeps Me Rollin')," shows her gospel chops are as strong as (maybe even stronger than) her secular gifts. In short, Introducing Darlene Love doesn't show off many new wrinkles of her talent, but if you want to know if Love still has what it takes to make a great record, this album shows the answer is an unambiguous "Absolutely!" ~ Mark Deming