Linda Hoover – I Mean To Shine
A bit vintage but with charm. This 11-cut comes from another era, 1970. An unissued LP — released for the first time in 2022.
52 years on the shelf — shameful. Lots of expertise was involved in this production. Gary Katz (Steppenwolf, Joe Cocker, Steely Dan) produced with members of the original Steely Dan. There are unheard songs by Walter Becker & Donald Fagen with songs by Richard Manuel (The Band) & Stephen Stills. What could possibly go wrong? This is like a lost Steely Dan LP with a female lead singer from Oakland, NJ — Linda Hoover (harmonica).
Look at the cast assembled. Becker (bass/electric guitar) & Fagen (keyboards/arrangements), the Dan’s Denny Dias (acoustic guitar/add’l arrangements), Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (electric/steel guitars) along with Eric Weissberg (acoustic guitar), Jerome Richardson (sax), John Discepolo (drums) & the Dick Cavett TV Band (strings, brass & woodwinds).
Maybe it wasn’t the right time? But, it was close enough to the era of songwriters like Pam Polland (“Abalone Dream”), Ruthann Friedman, Judee Sill, Decca Records’ Melissa (“Medicine Mixin’) & Ronee Blakley, not to mention heavy lifters like Joni Mitchell, Buffy Sainte-Marie & Judy Collins.
Linda’s folky vocals are pristine & the songs hold up on this 37-minute unissued set of I Mean To Shine – (Drops June 24-Omnivore). Linda does come across as just a principled singer since there’s no “image” to her fine performance, no mystique ala Melanie, Laura Nyro, Joan Baez. No creative songwriting except for a scant 3 out of 11. Even the Steely Dan songs weren’t well-known & they were signed as studio songwriters. The genealogy of the music runs deep on this. Linda’s final tune is her own “The Dove” – which is excellent.
One ray of sun, Barbra Streisand covered “I Mean To Shine” from Linda’s LP – maybe because the team of Steely Dan/Katz submitted it to Barbra. After all, Linda’s LP was never released. Linda sadly drifted from music. No denying the production of her LP was excellent.
One of the jewels is Linda’s cover of Richard Manuel’s “In a Station,” with her confident vocals & Steely Dan-oriented articulated sound & brass touches framing it.
Of course, involvement with Morris Levy (Roulette Records) brings issues. A hardline businessman & Levy wanted more than good record sales. He wanted publishing but many tunes on this LP were owned by others. The LP sat unreleased over a business disagreement. Few artists ever had a good relationship with Roulette, including John Lennon.
As a kid in the 60s, I liked Roulette Records. They released Joey Dee & the Starliters’ “Peppermint Twist,” had early Johnny Rivers, The Essex, Lou Christie, Tommy James & the Shondells. Cool stuff. But they weren’t known for female singers like Linda Hoover.
Issued in 2022 & produced by Jay Willingham & Cheryl Pawelski. There’s a stitched insert fully annotated.
Images by Joel Brodsky. CD @ https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/i-mean-to-shine/