Numbered among Darlene Love’s most ardent advocates, supporters and superfans are a few names you might know: first, Bruce Springsteen and Bette Midler, both of whom performed with Love at the singer’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; next, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Webb and Steven van Zandt, all of whom (along with the Boss) penned songs expressly for Love’s lavish and rocking 2015 record, titled triumphantly Introducing Darlene Love.
Was an introduction really required? In a way, maybe it was. While Love has had career peaks to rival rock ‘n’ roll’s most famous divas, her 60-year career has found her more often playing a backing role – to the likes of the Righteous Brothers, Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, mind you, but a backing role nonetheless. It’s misleading, however, and producer van Zandt is right in wanting to set the record straight. She was lead singer for the Blossoms. She sang lead on the oldie megahit “He’s a Rebel” with the Crystals and released half a dozen singles under her own name produced by the multiply infamous Phil Spector, including the hit “Wait ‘Til My Bobby Gets Back Home.”
About that record: Introducing Darlene Love makes no attempt at reinventing or contemporizing; neither is it a slavishly retro attempt at legend- and legacy-cementing. It is big, deep and glittering in a way that will remind of you the E Street Band in full bombast and Specter’s wall-of-sound productions. Why produce Darlene Love that way? Easy: because you can. Love’s pipes and personality and sheer guts can not only hang with all that production; they ride right on top like set jewels.
In recent years, Love has also released a damn fine holiday record, and it is the role of holiday officiant that she appears at Colony in Woodstock this week. “Darlene Love: In Love for the Holidays” invades the beautifully restored Woodstock institution on Tuesday, December 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $40 in advance and $45 on the day of the show. For tickets and additional information, visit www.colonywoodstock.com. Colony is located at 22 Rock City Road in Woodstock.