Joanne Vent

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1978)

- Joanne Vent (aka Jo Ann 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

Country/State: Seattle, Washingon

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 online 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 Vent as a Joplin-esque blues singer.  That wasn't necessary a bad thing.  Judging by tunes like 'Love Come Down' and  It's a Man's World' Vent had the chops to easily rival Joplin, or any other one of 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' and 'Weak Spot'.   Her voice wasn't any less powerful, but she brought a sense of intensity seldom heard in white female singers. At the same time she managed to avoid trying to power her way through those performances.  The big problem here was that as a non-writier Vent was saddled with too many lousy songs that simply didn't take advantage of her talents. That was especially true on side two where she was left to fight her way through a mundane cover of T-Bone Walker's 'Stormy Morning', one of the dullest Otis Redding covers I've ever heard ('Can't Turn You Lose') and the lounge act-ish 'Gloomy Sunday'.  Great voice, but not such a great album.  The video and sound quality are awful but YouTube has a clip of her performing a song entitled '(I'm) Qualified' that was supposedly intended for a shelved second album entitled "Joann Vent and Muscatel" (A&M catalog number SP 4255) : Joanne Vent & Muscatel - (I'm) Qualified? - YouTube  Regardless, it is a shame she didn't get a chance to record a follow-up with a more sympathetic producer.


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

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

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)







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

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.    

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

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. 

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

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.   

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

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. 

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

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.    


(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.  



She reappeared in 1972 as lead singer for 

the New York-based country-rock  band White Cloud.  The six piece outfit recording an obscure album for the small Nashville-based Good Medicine label before call it quits

 ("Good Medicine" catalog number GM-LP- 3500).  


When the album flopped, Vent returned to sessions work, including supporting Commander Cody, Jerry Jeff Walker, and  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.