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Q+A/Audio: Gloria Jones, “Tainted Love”

April 03, 2009



Gloria Jones’ Share My Love, re-released on Reel Music this month, is neither soul, disco, nor funk, but some beautiful amalgamation of the three. With gospel choruses and a contemporary looseness of early 70's rhythm & blues, the album is a cantilever bridge from soul to disco. A storied Motown songwriter, Rolling Stones/Ike and Tina back-up singer (among others), and a member of UK glam rock outfit T.Rex, Jones was never a household name even though her legacy is essential to rock 'n roll. But she seems mostly okay with that. Confident in collaboration and contribution, comfortable with her role in the history of music, re-releasing Share My Love some 36 years later, shes finally getting the spotlight.









Gloria Jones, "Tainted Love"




Can you talk about how the re-issue came about?

I don’t know if you know but for the last 12 years I’ve been living in Africa. I came home just last year to vote, and be a part of the release of “Share My Love”, the CD. It really is very exciting, because in Sierra Leone we are planning to build the Marc Bolan School of Music and Film.



Lets come back to the school in a bit. I want to talk about how diverse the CD is. We hear gospel, funk, afro, every genre under the sun, a group of everything, so obviously all these things were influencing you?

Influencing me, and also freedom. Everyone that was involved, we had musicians that had been on the road with Stephen Stills, Stevie Wonder, it was a all nationalities, African-Americans, red Indians, Japanese, Jamaicans, Brazilians but it wasn’t about race, it was about music. Over in the other studio Stevie Wonder was recording.



I read that, and you heard all of his synthesizers, and you wanted your album to sound more natural?

Yes, and that’s why I believe people are interested in “Share My Love”, because it’s music, not just electronics. Technology can reproduce but it can never feel. And soul is all about feeling. I've been dealing with computers in the studio for over twenty years, but one thing I always make sure to tell the engineer is, that's a machine, that machine cannot think unless you tell it, it cannot feel. And soul is the opposite. I'm not against change, people trying to find what they want in computers, but my mission is to keep soul music alive - feeling and music.



And on the cover, you're in bare feet, big hair, just natural.

when I first started writing for that CD, which at the time was an album, my heart was relating to Africa, that is the reason for the cover. I wanted it to look like I was in a village.



Was that just because of culture in America becoming afrocentric to some extent?

People were talking about Africa in America, but actually when I traveled to Europe, I went to a Reggae club, an African club. So when I returned to America, I was basically embracing all of those different cultures, and that’s what this CD is about.



Is that part of the freedom you mentioned before, because your mid-60s work is tight and structured and then you recorded “Share My Love” which is just loose soul.

It’s true, in the ’60s you were controlled. You were given a song, you learned the song, you went into the studio and you performed what the producer wanted, because it was his concept. But as an artist, it’s not that you weren’t allowed to suggest, its just that you didn’t know that you should. So coming from gospel, Sam Cooke game from gospel, Lou Rawls, improvisation has to creep in. And we got more freedom in the ’70s to do that, after Aretha Franklin and Della Reese had crossed over. And Paul Riser, the arranger, gave us so much freedom, took suggestions, everything.



Why do you think Europe was so quick to embrace it?

When the kids got out of school, they had clubs for them. In America we had American Bandstand and television, but in England they didn't have television shows, they didn't go home and watch TV all day and all night, they only had three or four shows on, so going to those dance clubs was very important, they were able to dance, meet, and hear new music.



Did you get to go to any of those?

No, I was recently told by young people who are now adults, in their ’40s and ’50s, that when they were ten, there was all of this Motown music on and, of course, "Tainted Love" which exploded, and opened up a new soul world for them. But I didn't know any of this world - no one told me! And if I had known, it would've changed my life, but I didn't even know it was going on over there. But, I'm still the Queen of Northern Soul.



Can you talk about your role in T. Rex because you played with the band for a while?

I met Marc three times in life. I was in the Los Angeles cast of Hair in 1969, and Jobriath invited the cast to a party that was being thrown in honor of Marc Bolan. I was like, No, no, no, I can't go, but he said, Gloria, you have to come, you have to see this guy, he's hot, he's talented, he's going to be one of the biggest stars. So we went, and I was sitting at the piano, playing, and Marc walked in with the blue satin cape, the wings, and the glitter, and we had eye contact, so I got off the piano and gravitated towards him. Well Jobriath had two Afghan dogs, and the dog decided to sniff on Marc, and Marc kicked the devil out of this dog. This was during the days of the hippies, so everyone got all offended, Oh my god he kicked the dog, peace and love, so I grabbed him and went to another room. We had small conversation, but mostly we just stayed next to each other. It was strange. And the next time I met him, I was one of the Sanctified Sisters at the Crystal Palace Festival with the Beach Boys, so that day, we were driving there to the Crystal Palace and there were all these kids with cloaks and glitter and top hats, and someone explained that these kids were followers of Marc Bolan, but I didn't know that it was the same guy I had met years ago. So that evening, we were leaving the next day for America, and Joe Cocker took us to the speakeasy, and there was this white Rolls Royce in front, and we were coming in, and Marc was coming out.



What did you bring to T. Rex?

Soul. Marc loved soul music. He was open for change. A lot of the fans did not like that, rock 'n roll was changing, but they wanted him to stay Marc Bolan, but Marc was playing with all these soul musicians. I was called to do some background for Ike & Tina, and I said, Can I bring my old man, is it okay if he comes and maybe puts something on for you. And they said, Come on down. So we got into the limo and rolled out to the studio, and Marc and Ike just loved one another, and Ike just said, sit down and we'll see what you want to do. We were putting the background on "Nutbush" and Marc and Ike had a ball. And Marc recorded the guitar part. When we went into the studio, Marc's eyes, I can see them, he was so happy, he and Ike, as musicians, you got me, they just clicked. So Marc played on "Nutbush City Limits" and I did background.



So that love of music, is that why you're building this Marc Bolan institute?

Marc loved children, and I love children, and I wanted this for our son, Rolan Bolan. We would like to have teachers, and we would like musicians to come and give classes. The school will be a school of music and film, so they will learn proper care of an instrument, then they will learn to play the instrument, they will learn the techniques in song-writing. These are children, so if they learn to start creating, they will be able to grow with this.

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Q+A/Audio: Gloria Jones, “Tainted Love”