Joanne Vent


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1978)

- Joanne Vent (RIP 1998) -- vocals

 

  supporting musicians:

- Richard Crooks -- percussion

- Dave Johnson -- bass

 

 

 

- Alice & The Wonderland Band

- White Cloud

 

 

 


 

Genre: blues-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The Black and White of it is Blues

Company: A&M

Catalog:  SP 4165
Year:
 1969

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: 1979 SOLD

Price: SOLD $50.00

There just doesn't seem to be a great deal of biographical information on the late Joanne Vent.  She seems to have started out as a backup singer, somehow getting signed to a solo contract with A&M.  Unfortunately Paul Jay Robbins' flowery liner notes added little information to the table.

Produced by Larry Marks, 1969's "The Black and White of it is Blues" sounded like A&M was trying to position her as a Joplin-esque blues singer.  That wasn't necessary a bad thing.  Judging by tunes like 'Love Come Down' and '' Vent had the chops to easily rival Joplin, or any other roof her other blues diva rivals.  Add to that, judging by the promo photo I stumbled across, she was one attractive young lady ...   Interestingly, at least to my ears, Vent was even more impressive on soul numbers like 'Ninety Nine and a Half', 'Weak Spot', and 'It's a Man's World'.   Her voice wasn't any less powerful, but she brought a sense of intensity seldom heard in white female belters.  

 

"The Black and White of it is Blues" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) God Bless the Child  n (A. Herzog Jr. - Billie Holiday)- 4:40

With a bit of Etta James in her delivery, Vent sounded quite good on her cover of Billie Holiday's 'God Bless the Child'.   The problem with this one was Michael McCormick's big band arrangement didn't do Vent any favors; occasionally threatening to drown her in the mix.   Still, A&M tapped the song as the leadoff single:

- 1969's 'God Bless the Child' b/w 'It's a Man's World' (A&M catalog number 1051)   rating: *** stars

2.) Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad   (Randy Newman) - 2:23

One of the better Newman covers with Vent using a range lower than normal.  And it would have been even better without the BS&T-styled horns.   Now that I think about it, the arrangement really did sound a bit like a BS&T tune.   rating: *** stars

3.) Love Come Down   (Jeanne Darling) - 3:20

I'm usually not a big fan of straightforward blues-rockers, but Vent turned in one of the exception on the Joplin-esque 'Love Come Down'.  The woman did have one amazing voice.   rating: **** stars

4.) You Can't Change   (Michael McCormick) - 2:03

Penned by producer McCorrnick, 'You Can't Change' sounded like it was trying to add a bit of commercial edge to Vent's sound.   Unfortunately the tune came out sounding like a mix of an off-Broadway stage show and a Holiday Inn lounge singer.   rating: *** stars

5.) Ninety Nine and a Half   (Steve Cropper - Eddie Floyd - Wilson Pickett) - 2:59

Personally I wasn't expecting much from this Stax cover ...   I was just plain wrong.  Vent simply slayed the tune.   The way she took on the refrain was simply mesmerizing.   One of the album's best performances.   rating: **** stars

6.) It's a Man's World   (James Brown) - 4:25

Vent's version of 'It's a Man's World' was quite good, showcasing what a powerful, but controlled singer she was.  Easily to imagine Joplin singing this with a shrill, out-of-control swagger.   Not Vent.  She was crisp, cool, and dazzling.  Still it wasn't enough to make you forget the James Brown original.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Weak Spot  (Dave Porter - Isaac Hayes) - 2:45

Her cover of 'Weak Spot' was quite a bit different than the rest of the album - dropping the blues-rock moves for a surprisingly accomplished soul sound.   Every time I hear this one I have to admit I'm surprised at what a good 'soul' voice the lady had.  Almost good enough to give Evelyn Thomas a run for her money.   rating: **** stars

2.) I Love You Moe Than You'll Ever Know   (Al Kooper) - 3:54

Very similar to the Blood, Sweat & Tears original.  In fact, the arrangement was so close it was hard to distance yourself from the hit version.   rating: ** stars

3.) Stormy Morning   (T-Bone Walker) - 7:08

Technically very good, but was it particularly enjoyable?   Maybe in a bar after a couple of beers ...  On vinyl it just seemed to go on and on and on ....   rating: ** stars

4.) Can't Turn You Lose   (Otis Redding) - 2:17

The one soul cover where she simply tried a touch too hard ...   rating: ** stars

5.) Gloomy Sunday  (S. Lewis - R. Seres) - 4:11

Hum, this was either a flopped attempt to write a James Bond theme song, or a horrible slice of adult contemporary cocktail jazz.  No matter which, it wasn't very impressive.   rating: ** stars

 

In spite of an appearance on the Johnny Carson Show, the album disappeared almost instantly, leaving Vent to return to sessions work.  

 

Good Medicine catalog number GM-LP-3500

 

She reappeared in 1972 as lead singer for the New York band White Cloud, recording an obscure album with the band.  When the album flopped, Vent returned to sessions work, including work Commander Cody, Jerry Jeff Walker, and with Lou Reed (she's on "Coney Island Baby").

 

As far as I can tell, Vent only recorded one other solo effort - an obscure 1976 single for RCA Victor:

- 1976's 'Call My Name' b/w 'Huggin'' (RCA Victor catalog number PB 10155)

 

Vent apparently married percussionist Richard Crooks (who guested on her album).  According to an online post I stumbled across from her son Brian Crooks, Vent died in 1998.

 

 

 

 

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