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Joleen - 1988 Joleen



ARTIST: Joleen
ALBUM: Joleen
LABEL: Duo Records (Japan)
SERIAL: DU1LC-0001
YEAR: 1988

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Joleen Benoit - vocals * Rusty Anderson, Dean Parks, Michael Thompson - guitars * Dennis Belfield, Jennifer Condos, Jimmy Haslip - bass * Joey Carbone, Karen Childs, Bill Meyers - keyboards * Armand Grimaldi, Art Wood - drums * Dan Higgins - saxophone * Beth Anderson, Chris Farren, Rupert Holmes, Andrea Robinson, Joe Turano - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Tokyo Girl * 02 Heaven Knows * 03 To Each His Own * 04 Touch And Go * 05 Straightaway * 06 When Sparks Fly * 07 Perfect World * 08 You Don't Know The City * 09 The Traveller's Song


Background
It's an album I've been after for ages. I finally picked it up, and then attempted to pick it apart. If you like female-fronted AOR in the vein of Trace Balin, Audrey Landers and Mary-Lu Zahalan, then welcome to Joleen, or Joleen Benoit as per her real name. Raised in the southwest pocket of Minneapolis, Joleen's early claim to fame was as a pageant queen winning the Miss Minnesota title in 1973. She subsequently toured with the USO (United Services Organizaton), and found a career in music during the 80's. Her first known single was 1986's 'Forgotten Man', a song which was pitched at returned servicemen it would seem. But her big break came when she was signed for her debut CD simple called 'Joleen' and released two years later. This album was never released in the USA, an exclusive Japan only release on the small-time label Duo Records. It's a mix of AOR and middle of the road pop/rock numbers, aimed squarely to the Japanese audience. One track 'You Don't Know The City' is sung in Japanese as well.


The Songs
There's a strong cast of musicians playng on the CD, but not all the songs hold your attention. The opening track 'Tokyo Girl' was originally placed as a Japanese advertisement for television. With an abundance of hand-claps, sax and a 'milk bar' oriented style, this is far from traditional AOR. Second up, 'Heaven Knows' is a bit better, fitting into the mould nicely, keys give it a bit of gloss too. 'To Each His Own' is the first ballad, with tinkly keyboards straight from the 80's. 'Touch And Go' too lives in ballad land, a bit schmaltzy for my tastes, while 'Straightaway' rears its head as a hi-tech funky piece. 'When Sparks Fly' is the closest we get to AOR, some nice touches and at last, a guitar solo of note. 'Perfect World' is another that might appeal, with some Chicago similarities thanks to all the brass work happening. 'You Don't Know The City' is sung in Japanese, while the accordion laden 'Traveller's Song' provides a point of difference.


In Summary
The album is very rare, but upon hearing it, I came away pretty disappointed unfortunately. There's very little of interest to hardened melodic rockers I'm afraid, and despite the stellar line-up, it looks like they were just paid to play. Joleen released another CD in the 90's, a jazz vocal affair called 'Another Year', but I haven't seen much detail anywhere on the Net for it. So now you know..


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