Week 24: Mrs. Jones
Hello, friends! We’re back once again for another week’s worth of the good music.
Week 24 is here – and with it some deep, bluesy, oldschool southern soul from 1973, Denise LaSalle’s sophomore album “On The Loose” released on Westbound Records.
I’ve had some luck digging the crates lately…mostly because my favourite spot has been making space for new shipments of vinyls – they’ve been having this great sale going on for weeks now (think $1/album). I’ve been there like 10 times raiding the aisles – literally, alphabetically and genre by genre. For just as many weeks I’ve been hiding my loot from the wife out in the garage (since her general standpoint in the matter is that I’ve had enough, forcing the “bring one album home, get rid of one album” principle onto my sometimes feverish favourite pasttime) until I’ve had time to sort out some duds in the collection to be replaced. So with dozens of new albums just waiting to be brought inside to be ripped, I manage to stumble upon this Denise LaSalle album that I bought years ago. Curious as I am, I took it out for a brush-me-up spin – and was instantly hooked.
But like SB said it in a recent discussion; Denise LaSalle albums are often hit or miss material…there’s plenty of albums out there in circulation with Denise just going through the motions – but when she’s good, she’s awesome. In my opinion, this often tends to coincide with Denise having something special to say…and she usually does, if and when she writes the songs herself. Lucky for us all, “On The Loose” includes four of her own songs – and the entire album is produced by Crajon Enterprises…owned and run by the husband and wife team of Bill and Denise Jones (yep, that’s the very same Denise alright, and the reason for the kinda cryptic blog post title).
And after doing some research, my guess is that her then husband Bill is the main reason for Denise’s need to let the extra steam off – making this album a winner. Just read this excerpt from David Freeland’s excellent book “Ladies Of Soul”…
For a short period following the success of “Trapped By a Thing Called Love” (her 1971 gold single and 1972 album), LaSalle effectively maintained a dual career: joint owner of Crajon Enterprises and a star soul performer. By 1974, however, she had split with Bill Jones, given up the company, and had left Chicago altogether.
“My husband [was] a very nice man, but I think my career overshadowed him. He was lost. After I got hit records out, he got lost. You know, how can I be Denise LaSalle’s husband? He felt like he was nobody, I guess. He was just a lost soul. You know, he was a chef by trade. He refused to work as a chef because he said, ‘Denise LaSalles’s husband shouldn’t be a chef.’ But now, what can you do? You gotta work somewhere; you gotta do something. And consequently he didn’t know, so he started drinking. And so we just separated after that. He just went off into a state of alcohol, and we separated. Good man, nice person, and I’m sorry that happened to him. Only that could have driven me away from him, ’cause I loved him dearly. We got into the stage where there was no growth from him and he refused to grow, and I just moved. I just movd out of the house, car, everything. I just moved to Memphis. And just relocated, started all over again with nothing, rented me some furniture, put it in my apartment and everything. And finally he gave up the house and moved out. You know, everything worked out. We’re good friends right now.”
The four cuts on the album penned by LaSalle/Jones herself are “A Man Sized Job” and “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” on the A-side, and the B-side’s wicked “Your Man And Your Best Friend” and “Making A Good Thing Better” are to die for – but the rest ain’t half-bad either…like her take on Bill Withers “Lean On Me” and the socially conscious “There Ain’t Enough Hate Around (To Make Me Turn Around)”…all of them aptly handled by arranger Bowlegs Miller. Like the review over at Bad Cat Records tells it: “In fact, the only mis-step on the album is a needless cover of Jeannie C. Riley’s ‘Harper Valley PTA’.” – a dash of country for good measure gone horribly wrong. Still, all in all, a perfect album to be posted here!
Now, just listen to the bassline on this one:
I urge you to get your mittens on a copy of this beauty as soon as possible…there’s the one for sale over at Bad Cat Records for $15, one $16.50 copy over here and yet another copy here for about $25 – just do it!
Props are due to both Mr. and Mrs. Jones for the musical experience…as always and until next time – thank you for the music!
(Ps. We would like to dedicate this post to the loving memory of Musicmeiho – our friend, long-time follower and benchmark blogger colleague, who would have loved this post and the chitlin’ circuit soul offering. “Love the music”!)