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Over his thirty plus years of recording, Glenn Jones has rarely been included in the short list of important Soul vocalists. While that may be attributable to a perceived lack of distinctiveness and consistency in the material he's covered over his career, he and his catalog of material have generally been underrated, and it is only in the latter stages of his career that he has begun to receive proper credit as a fine Soul singer.
Like great Soul artists from Sam Cooke to Aretha Franklin, Glenn Jones' singing origins are in the Church. Jones spent most of his teen and early adult years singing Gospel in various groups, most notably the Modulations. He then worked with many of the Gospel greats of the 70s, including Rev. James Cleveland and the Mighty Clouds of Joy, and appeared to have a bright future in the Gospel world.
In the late 70s, Jones came to the attention of R&B producer Norman Connors, who helped start the careers of so many Soul vocalists such as Phyllis Hyman and Michael Henderson. Connors recruited Jones to sing on his 1980 LP, Take It To the Limit, and to pursue a career in secular R&B. After touring with Connors, Jones signed with RCA Records for what would be a productive four-year relationship. During that period he worked with Connors, SOLAR producer whiz Leon Sylvers and others, and released some moderately successful material, including "Show Me, " "Bring Me Back Your Love," and a fine adult contemporary duet with Dionne Warwick, "Finder of Lost Loves" (from the ABC show of the same name).
Jones jumped to the nascent Jive Records label in 1987 and scored his biggest crossover hit, "We've Only Just Begun," a nice midtempo number that received significant Soul and Pop airplay. He had another hit two years later with "Stay" before moving to Atlantic Records and scoring his first Soul #1 with "Here I Go Again" and a top 10 follow-up, "I've Been Searching (Nobody Like You)." He recorded his last Atlantic LP, "Here I Am," two years later.
While a review of Jones' chart history from 1983-1994 shows an impressive string of hits, there was never a signature Glenn Jones style, as the quality and style of his albums appeared to be unusually dependent on the producer with whom he was working. Consequently, while a fine singer, Jones was often not seen as particularly distinctive, and his career developed more as a string of unrelated songs than as a cohesive whole. And far from reaching the monster commercial peaks of vocalists such as Luther Vandross or Lionel Richie, Jones remained to the public consciousness at a level below even the next grouping of Soul singers, such as Jeffrey Osborne and Peabo Bryson (each of whom personally crafted a strong, distinctive style that made their material both consistent and identifiable).
So, as the mid-90s came and Jones stopped recording, not many people appeared to notice. Then a funny thing happened. In 1998, as part of a minor resurgence of "old school" singers, Barry White, Peabo Bryson, Regina Belle, James Ingram and a number of other solo artists released new material. Though forgotten by many, at that time Jones quietly released It's Time. It was a surprise gem and was perhaps the best of the bunch. With a nice mix of solid upbeat material (such as the great cut "24/7") and ballads, Jones sounded more confident and distinctive than ever. But it was the bluesy, soulful ballad "Baby Come Home" from that album that was a seminal career moment for Jones - most certainly his finest Soul vocal performance ever - and that demonstrated, after fifteen years of solo recordings, that Glenn Jones had developed into a great vocalist who had met the promise hinted at with his early Gospel success.
In 2002, Jones signed with Russ Freeman's Peak Records and released "Feels Good" with moderate success. And in 2006, he returned on Shanachie Records with Forever: Timeless R&B Classics, a very enjoyable disc of soul music covers songs that showed Jones continuing to bring it as a vocalist. In late 2012, Jones was again working on new music, with an album on the horizon tentatively titled Give it Time.
Glenn Jones continues to perform in multi-artist shows around the world and continues to sound great.
By Chris Rizik