Darlene Love’s story–one of the first of a long line of female vocalists whose voices were utilized by the music industry to generate hits without the benefit of the usage of their name (or image in many cases)–is an important one. The Academy Award-winning 20 Feet From Stardom recognized this and chronicled the challenges of Love’s career, alongside other singers known for background work who aspired for a career center stage. The Second Disc’s recent release, The Many Sides of Love: The Complete Reprise Recordings Plus! provides a sort of soundtrack for Love’s story, giving fans the chance to hear the music she was busy making during the era highlighted in the film.
The recordings collected on The Many Sides feature Darlene’s output for Reprise Records from 1963 to 1966 under the banner of The Wildcats, The Blossoms and under her own name. The collection’s earliest recording begins a year after Darlene recorded the lead vocal for The Crystals’ chart-topper “He’s a Rebel.” Hearing 1963’s “TV Commercials” in 2022 is a wonderful glimpse into the kinds of novelty songs that often caught fire. We get to hear the sugary side of Love’s voice, conjuring the same kind of both sweetness and subtle snarkiness that she also projected into Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash” the year before.
Highlights include The Blossoms’ infectious “That’s When The Tears Start,” the Supremes-esque “Lover Boy,” and Darlene’s first post-Philes solo release, the Northern Soul favorite, “It’s Too Late To Say You’re Sorry,” all of which display the magnificent orchestration and vocal arrangements that make this period of time the gold standard of music production. That Darlene’s career was stymied by a producer, who, in her words, “was going to do everything in his power to keep me from shining,” is a travesty that collections like this, thankfully, work to rectify.
As a bonus, this collection’s producer, Joe Marchese, adds a series of singles recorded in 1985, 1990 and 2014 to compliment the package. Love’s 1985 reading of “River Deep, Mountain High” from the cast recording of Leader of the Pack, two tracks from 1990’s Dick Tracy soundtrack, and a 2014 re-recording of “He’s Sure The Boy I Love” with Bette Midler showcase the staying power that Love has maintained in her 60+ year recording career. With in-depth notes from Joe Marchese and tributes from Dionne Warwick, Jackie DeShannon and Stevie Van Zandt, The Many Sides of Love: The Complete Reprise Recordings Plus! is an essential for Love fans and a great introduction to this treasure of a voice for curious minds.
Tim Dillinger, Editorial Content Manager