Closer Than Close: The Best Of Jean Carne

Jean Carne

Philadelphia International / The Right Stuff Records, 1986

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Carne

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/03/1999

Doing this job has been a re-education in the world of rhythm & blues for me. I've discovered some wonderful music that I missed growing up, as well as some songs from my childhood that I haven't heard for years... some of which I could have easily forgotten about and been just as happy.

But there have also been discoveries of artists who I think I knew a little something about as I've listened to more music the older I've gotten. Such is the case with Jean Carne, whose greatest hits disc Closer Than Close: The Best Of Jean Carne came out earlier this year. While Carne seems to dish up typical r&b of the time - not necessarily bad, just standard fare - some of her songs are bound to rings bells of recognition in your mind.

I dare say that Carne was typical of the genre because she doesn't really have any characteristics to her music that set her apart from others of the time. She doesn't try to show off a multi-octave range, she doesn't break out the funk, she doesn't get too seductive in the music. No, she chooses to walk a straight path right down the middle of the r&b road - and by no means am I saying that's a bad thing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In fact, the only thing about Carne's music that does set her apart was the minor row she kicked up with her song "There's A Shortage Of Good Men" - a song she didn't even write but took the heat for. Nowadays, this track is prety tame, but the concept caused the track to lose a lot of airplay. Carne also planted a few bees in people's bonnets with "Free Love," a song about an unwed mother whose message many people seemed to misunderstand. (It's a funny thing, but the "controversial" tracks turn out to be some of the best music on this disc.)

The bells of recognition went off for me on the song "Sweet And Wonderful," a song I could swear I've heard before giving this disc repeated listens. I don't know what it is about this particular track, but I found myself going back to it again and again. Maybe it's the peppy rhythm track, maybe it's Carne's flawless delivery (can anyone tell me who the male vocal accompanying Carne on this song is?)... I just love it.

Equally as pleasant are the tracks "I'm Back For More," a duet with Al Johnson, "Love Don't Love Nobody" and her cover of "If You Don't Know Me By Now," a song that I don't think I've heard a bad version of yet. With songs like these, I have to wonder why more people don't know about Carne's work.

But there is some rather average fare on this disc as well. Tracks like "Was That All There Was," "Completeness," "Closer Than Close" and "Together Once Again" just fail to light the fires like the other mentioned tracks do. It's not that these are bad songs; rather, it's just that they're nothing special. Indeed, Closer Than Close: The Best Of Jean Carne turns out to be a bit of a musical rollercoaster.

Carne's output shows that she's definitely worthy of your attention, if only to get yourself re-acquainted with her work. But this disc is occasionally difficult to get through, especially when the songwriting quality dips compared to the superior tracks. Closer Than Close: The Best Of Jean Carne is worth checking out, even if all you want to do is get her classic tracks isolated on one disc.

Rating: B-

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Comments

I'm going to get this album. I didn't know she had a greatest hits album. She actually only had a couple of R&B hits, but a fantastic singer. Trivia about her is that she was an original member of Earth Wind and Fire.








© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Philadelphia International / The Right Stuff Records, and is used for informational purposes only.