Classics: Jean Carn – Free Love (Philadelphia International Records)
From the first notes of ‘Free Love’ you could feel a parental link with another famous gem. A classic that would see the light the year after (in 1977) after on the same label. Any idea? Teddy Pendergrass‘ ‘You Can’t Hide from Yourself’, as a matter of fact. With the reason being that Bobby Martin came to arrange both of them.
Opening Jean Carn‘s eponymous debut-album, ‘Free Love’ majestically showcases her talent. Evolving on a jazzy mood, with production work courtesy of label heads Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. “Free love… Don’t be a slave to your passion. (Talkin bout) free love, Ya might get a negative reaction.” Just as the one she vibrantly depicts, talkin’ about a woman who let her heart control all the moves you make. Eventually givin’ birth to a child after her love had gone.
I quite hardly understand why the label did pass on givin’ this joint a 12″ release. Don’t you?
A Columbus, GA native, Jean Carn started singin’ at an early age with the encouragements of her family. Eventually becoming a member of her church choir. From then, she went on to learn to play the piano, the clarinet, and the bassoon, mastering all three before attending Morris Brown College. She planned furthering studies in NYC when she met and married Jazz pianist Doug Carn. And soon after joined him as a featured singer in his Jazz fusion band. Both of them releasing 3 albums on Black Jazz Records. Coming to the attention of Earth, Wind & Fire, she would contribute to their 2 first albums. Then join Norman Connors along with Michael Henderson on his 1975 ‘Saturday Night Special’ album.
By 1976, Jean Carn signed a record deal with Philadelphia International Records. Releasing her eponymous debut-album the same year and therefore makin’ quite a sensation with ‘Free Love’. Another big classic of hers – ‘Don’t Let It Go To Your Head’ – followed 2 years after, as a part of her ‘Happy To Be With You’ album. Meanwhile a third one – ‘Was That All It Was’ – written by Jerry Butler came up by the end of 1979, closing her ‘When I Find You Love’ album.
1980 saw her delivering another quite sought after gem. Sharing the duties with Al Johnson on the quiet stormy ‘I’m Back For More’. Meanwhile she would switch from PIR to sublabel TSOP the year after. Resuming her liaison with the Philly label with ‘Sweet And Wonderful’, she duetted with Glenn Jones on a cover version of the Spinners’ ‘Love Don’t Love Nobody’.
Carn then made a quick stop on Motown with her 1982 Norman Connors produced ‘Trust Me’ album. Eventually comin’ up with a cover version of ‘If You Don’t Leave Me By Now’. Signing with Omni Records, she teamed up with Grover Washington, Jr who produced her 1986 ‘Closer Than Close’ album. The title track of which providing her with her only ever #1 in the U.S. R&B charts. 3 extra albums followed including her latest to date – ‘Love Lessons’ – back in 1996 on Moja Entertainment.
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