Darlene Love needs no introduction.
She’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. She was part of the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” in 2013. And she’s a holiday tradition, thanks to her legendary “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” the Phil Spector-produced classic she performed on David Letterman’s late-night talk shows for 28 years, as well as her own long-running “Love for the Holidays” show, which stops at Landmark on Main Street Saturday for the fifth year running.
However, when it came time for Love to release her first album in 17 years, she agreed with producer Steven Van Zandt that the title should be “Introducing Darlene Love” (Columbia).
“It was Steven’s idea,” Love says, calling from a tour stop in New Brunswick, Canada. “This really was the first time I’ve recorded this way since the ’60s, so a lot of people might not know my name. It was also amazing to me that my voice was better. It actually sounded better than it did 20 years ago. It was like a new start.”
“Introducing” isn’t the work of a newcomer, though. Pals and admirers Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello wrote songs especially for the 74-year-old singer, with Springsteen’s “Night Closing In” sounding like it could have come from Love’s “He’s a Rebel” days with The Crystals.
“Isn’t that the truth?” Love says, laughing. “Steven asked them, ‘Could you write something for Darlene?’ and that’s what they came up with! Everything they sent me was great.”
And the support didn’t stop with the music. The video for the first single, “Forbidden Nights,” written by Costello, featured cameos from everyone from Springsteen and Joan Jett, whose “Little Liar” Love covers on “Introducing,” to a shirtless Bill Murray. “That was so much fun,” Love says of the video shoot, which ended up with a party on the Jersey Shore. “Everybody Steven asked to do it said yes. Even Bill Murray, who everyone said, ‘He doesn’t do stuff like this.’ ”
Van Zandt, who had been pushing to work with Love for years, wrote for her as well, including “Among the Believers,” a timely protest song with lines like “I see peacemakers coming. I see justice in our time.”
“It fits with everything going on in the world right now,” Love says. “It feels good to say we are among the believers.”
Love says the new songs, including “Among the Believers” and “Who Under Heaven,” written by Jimmy Webb, fit in nicely with her holiday show.
“The audiences have been so accepting of it,” she says. “They come up to us after the show, looking to buy the new CD. It’s like a miracle and a blessing.”
Those blessings should continue into 2016. The movie version of her book “My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story” should move forward on OWN, with Toni Braxton playing her. And Love is planning a tour to focus on the new songs, her first major non-holiday tour in years.
“I usually rest after Christmas,” she says, laughing. “This time, there will be more shows involved. I want people to hear the new songs. And I want them to know that what they hear on the record, they will hear it in person. . . . The band just keeps getting tighter and tighter, so that means everyone will be enjoying the show — the people coming to see the show, the people playing the show, and me!”[/TEXT]