Today’s selection is a testament to putting your preconceptions to the side and approaching strange (looking) things with an open mind.
I only ever knew Gloria Loring as a kind of mainstream pop singer from 80s variety and talk shows and the voice (and pen) behind TV themes for the shows ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ and ‘The Facts of Life’ (which she created with her then-husband, Alan “Parade of the Snakes” Thicke).
A few years back, someone (I wish I could remember who) tipped me off to her early albums, recorded between 1969 and 1972.
During that period, Loring, who had sung with a commercial folk group, was working on well-produced/played versions of interesting singer/songwriter material by folks like Fred Neil, Leonard Cohen, Jim Webb, the Youngbloods, and, as you’ll hear today, Joni Mitchell.
The two albums she did for the Evolution* label, ‘And Now We Come To Distances’ (1969) and ‘Sing a Song For the Mountain’ (1972), both featuring New York session guys like Paul Griffin, and produced and arranged by Al Gorgoni, are both excellent.
I’m always interested in artists trying to take cool material into the mainstream, especially when they do it without straying into kitsch, and Loring succeeds on both counts.
Of the songs on the albums, my favorite is her version of Mitchell’s ‘Song To a Seagull’, in which she takes the spare, acoustic original and turns it into a shimmering, almost psychedelic experience.
Loring had a clear, high soprano voice (not quite as high as Joni, but that’s cool) and the arrangement, featuring what sounds like a clavinet or electric harpsichord, is just beautiful.
The Evolution albums aren’t too expensive when you can find them, and are highly recommended.
I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll see you next week.
*Oddly enough, the recording arm of a watch company!