As I prepare to leave my home state of NJ for the wilds of coastal New England, I thought I’d pay tribute to a proud daughter of the Garden State, Linda Jones, who was born in Newark in 1944. When people remember Linda Jones, and soul aficionados certainly do, it is primarily for her stunning 1967 single “Hypnotized”. It was released on Loma Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, and climbed up the pop chart all the way to #21. The single also reached #4 on the r&b chart.
In 1995, Warners released a compilation album called Best of Loma Records-Rise and Fall of a 1960’s Soul Label. The double album contained five tracks by Linda Jones, and at least one copy came with a most unusual warning sticker:
The music contained herein exudes an intensity rarely evident in popular stylings, and even infrequent within the “deep soul” idiom, and if you are not that familiar with Linda’s output, I would genuinely recommend that you sample this CD in smaller doses.
(Courtesy of the4thpip)
As you will hear in the two performances I’ve provided here, Linda Jones never held back. Every bit of her soul, her life, is in her records. That is why many people consider her one of the greatest soul singers who ever lived. Sadly, she suffered from chronic diabetes from the time she was a child, and had only one kidney. That did nothing to diminish her determination to be a star however, and she had several other hits after “Hypnotized.” In 1972, after performing at a matinee show at the Apollo Theater, Linda decided to go home to Newark to rest before the evening show. There she went into diabetic shock, slipped into a coma, and never woke up. Linda Jones was just 27 years old when she died, but she left behind some the most memorable performances in the history of soul music.
Here is Linda Jones singing “I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow.” What makes this interesting is that background vocals on the single are provided by the O’Jays. Jones’ 1970 single never made it to the pop charts, but reached #40 on the r&b chart. The O’Jays own original version of the song, which was released three years earlier, reached #66 on the pop chart, and #8 on the r&b chart.
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