Jen-Ju

 

Lynda Jenkins (UK): Love Is All Around (Decca SKL.5108, 1971)
Folk/Pop/MOR
This was briefly a sought-after collectible, after appearing in a prominent dealer’s auction, in which it was described as the rarest UK major label female folk album from the early seventies. As soon as subsequent copies were flushed out of the woodwork, the price plummeted as its strongly middle-of-the-road slant and light classical edges became obvious. That’s not to say it’s unpleasant: Jenkins has a decent, if one-dimensional, voice and the arrangements and orchestrations are beautifully crafted by Ivor Raymonde. However, the back cover notes stating that she had performed alongside the Barron Knights, Charlie Chester and Richard Attenborough indicate clearly that Jenkins belonged in light entertainment rather than folk or pop (let alone rock). GRADE: C.

Jennifer (USA): I Can Remember Everything (Parrot 71020, 1968)
Folk/Pop
Jennifer Warnes
Jennifer Warnes’s debut offers very well-done but rather bland baroque folk/pop, without any original compositions. Her hesitant, breathy, frequently tuneless singing isn’t a plus either. GRADE: C–.
Jennifer (USA): See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me! (Parrot PAS 71034, 1969)
Folk/Pop
Jennifer Warnes
This is often in a similar style to her debut, but a bit livelier, rootsier and more rocking, and a good deal less precious – so it’s the superior album by quite some margin. It’s also considerably more varied, touching on everything from bluesy ballads to folk/psych and even opera. GRADE: C.

Iain Jennings (UK): Breathing Space (No label IJ01, CD, 2005)
Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (lead vocals)
Although credited as a solo album, this is basically Mostly Autumn without its two major talents (Jennings on keyboards, Sparnenn on vocals, Liam Davison on guitars and Andrew Jennings on drums). Hardly surprisingly, the disc sounds like a mediocre Mostly Autumn album, with the songs mostly being rather bland power ballads and only the atmospheric closing instrumental really standing out. ‘Breathing Space’ became the band name for the follow-ups. GRADE: C.
See also Breathing Space, Josh & Co Limited, Mostly Autumn

Jensen Sisters (Canada): Dancin’ In The Autumn Breeze (Accent ACS-5095, USA, 1978)
Pop
Anna-Lise Jensen (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Ellen Jensen (guitar, bass, backing vocals), Diana Jensen (drums, backing vocals)
These Canadian-born but American-based sisters gigged extensively as a lounge trio, playing a wide variety of instruments. However, their LP has stripped-down backing from electric guitars and dreamy multi-tracked vocals, creating a gentle and beatific mood. With good singing and musicianship throughout, it never crosses over into ‘incredibly strange music’, although ‘real people’ collectors will certainly relish the unusual, innocent vibe and the cover photograph of the band in matching outfits clutching their instruments, including a rather impressive twin-neck guitar. GRADE: C+.

Jeremy Smoking Jacket (UK): Now We Are Dead (And Other Stories) (Enormous Corpse, CDR, with booklet, 2005)
Rock/Industrial
Rose Kemp (lead vocals, organ, glockenspiel)
With its distorted guitars and grungy loops, this unusual mini-album (about 22½ minutes) effectively bridges the indie and quasi-industrial genres. One cut sounds like an updating of Joni Mitchell’s ‘The Jungle Line’ with its Burundi-style drumming, whilst the sole cover (Tom Waits’s ‘No-One Knows I’m Gone’) is sung to a backdrop of people coughing. The results are odd, intriguing and mostly very effective. GRADE: C+.

Jess & The Ancient Ones (Finland): Jess And The Ancient Ones (Svart SVR127CD, CD, with minisleeve, poster and box, 2012)
Metal
Jess (lead vocals)
With a sound vaguely similar to early Devil’s Blood, this is rather good early seventies-style heavy rock. There are quite a few psychedelic and progressive influences on offer, and one pleasant Mellotron passage, but whilst consistently enjoyable this doesn’t contain any individually outstanding songs. GRADE: C+.

Jessamine (USA): Jessamine (Kranky KRANK 003, CD, 1994)
Psychedelic/Post-Rock
Dawn Smithson (joint lead vocals, bass)
With a sound blending influences from psychedelia, shoegaze, drone and post-rock, Jessamine had a similar style to contemporaries like Bardo Pond and Bowery Electric (and fairly typical for the Kranky label). Consequently, whilst this is a consistently good LP, it’s not a particularly distinctive one. GRADE: C+.
Jessamine (USA): The Long Arm Of Coincidence (Kranky KRANK 012, CD, with gatefold minisleve, 1996)
Psychedelic/Post-Rock
Dawn Smithson (joint lead vocals, bass)
Mixing structured compositions and improvisations, this is in the same musical vein as their first but a bit patchier. In particular, the singing on the improvisations is downright dreadful; I’m all for spontaneity, but a few overdubs would have improved this material enormously. Nonetheless, there is plenty to enjoy here, although given the minimalist style I find the LP far, far too long. GRADE: C+.
Jessamine & Spectrum (USA/UK): A Pox On You (Space Age Recordings ORBIT 003CD, CD, UK, 1996)
Psychedelic/Post-Rock
Dawn Smithson (bass)
This collaboration with British electronic musician Pete Kember (aka Sonic Boom, aka Experimental Audio Research, presumably also aka Spectrum) is unsurprisingly highly synthesised, very minimalist and trippy, and almost entirely instrumental. One of Jessamine’s most interesting projects, this slowly oozes and builds, changing shape constantly, and often commands attention whilst not really going anywhere. GRADE: B–.
Jessamine (USA): Don’t Stay Too Long (Kranky KRANK 030, CD, 1998)
Psychedelic/Post-Rock
Dawn Smithson (joint lead vocals, bass)
Thankfully much shorter than The Long Arm Of Coincidence, this is another solid album, but with no obvious artistic progression tends to confirm the conclusion that they’re ultimately one-trick ponies. GRADE: C+.
Jessamine/EAR (USA/UK): Living Sound (Histrionic HIST02, CD, USA, 1999, recorded 1996)
Psychedelic
Dawn Smithson (bass)
This all-instrumental live album was performed with Pete Kember and recorded around the same time as their other collaboration A Pox On You. With just one long track, presumably an improvisation, it takes Jessamine away from their usual post-rock realms into Krautrock-style spaciness, with music that constantly ebbs and flows. The end result is probably their best album, although like a lot of such pieces the music is a touch lacking in hooks and dynamics. GRADE: C+.
Jessamine (USA): Another Fictionalized History (Histrionic HIST-01, double LP, with insert, 1999, recorded 1992-1997)
Psychedelic/Post-Rock
Dawn Smithson (joint lead vocals, bass)
This compilation of previously unreleased recordings, taken from private cassettes, radio sessions and other sources, is ironically the best Jessamine album. Its disparate material means that it adds the key ingredient their other releases lack – variety – to create a thoroughly enjoyable set. As a footnote, there was also a CD (Histrionic HIST01, with digipak and booklet), which omitted the first two tracks.

GRADE: B–.
See also Dawn Smithson, Various ‘Harmony Of The Spheres’

Jesson’s Primary School (UK): Jess Fest – Songs For Imogen (No label, CD, 2014)
Folk/Rock
Amanda Cliff (joint lead vocals), Lisa Kimber (joint lead vocals), Kathryn Ratcliffe (joint lead vocals), Lucy Griffiths (keyboards)
Modern school projects seem to be a rarity, but here’s a nice one with full band backing. They’re nothing if not eclectic in their choice of material – everything from ‘Chasing Cars’ and ‘Skyfall’ to ‘California Dreaming’, ‘Pinball Wizard’ and a medley of songs from ‘Les Misérables’ – and the vocals seemed to be shared by kids and adults, so this is head and shoulders above most primary school LPs. For sure, more solo vocals would have been welcome, but everybody seems to be having fun here and the drummer certainly seems to be giving it his all. GRADE: C+.

Jesus Is… (UK): Jesus Is… (Myrrh MYRH 1049, with inner, 1976)
Pop/Folk
Gill Buckley (joint lead vocals), Rachel Hill (joint lead vocals), Juliette Hindson (joint lead vocals), Heather Hollings (joint lead vocals), Sara Kempner (joint lead vocals), Carrie Richardson (joint lead vocals), Rachel Douglas (joint lead vocals), Julia Drake (joint lead vocals), Chris Hillier (joint lead vocals), Debbie Hillier (joint lead vocals), Ros Kelly (joint lead vocals), Sally Mason (joint lead vocals), Fiona Mills (joint lead vocals), Janet Parsey (joint lead vocals), Gill Rennie (joint lead vocals), Tricia Rumsey (joint lead vocals), Ingrid Sandom (joint lead vocals), Margaret Hunt (piano), Lesley Sidey (brass), Anne Chapman (flute), Lizzy Mills (oboe), Jane Chapman (oboe)
This fusion of slightly funky MOR pop, disco-influenced drums, baroque choral vocals and prominent horns could be regarded as either brave or foolhardy, depending on one’s perspective. Certainly, an interesting and worthwhile album could have resulted from such an experiment. Equally certainly, this isn’t it. GRADE: C–.

Jetliners (Sri Lanka): More Fabulous Sounds From Ceylon (Columbia 33EIX.5014, 1967)
Beat
Mignonne Rutnam (principal vocals, organ)
With its energetic performances, lively recording and effective mix of familiar covers and originals, this Sri Lankan band’s debut is well above the norm for mid-sixties beat. In particular, their taut, snotty performance of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’ could win many fans. As a footnote, the title refers to a previous EP – this was the band’s first appearance on 12" vinyl. GRADE: C+.
Jetliners (Sri Lanka): At The Taj Mahal Bombay (Columbia 33EIX.5016, India, 1968)
Beat
Mignonne Rutnam (joint lead vocals, organ, melodica), Loretta Koch (occasional vocals)
This isn’t the kind of band for whom artistic development was a priority – like many groups from developing countries, they remained in mid-sixties beat mode whilst the wider rock world went psychedelic and then progressive. As such, my comments about their deby remain – this offers good, lively pop and is consistently enjoyable without displaying a huge amount of individual personality. GRADE: C+.

Jetliners With Mignonne, Loretta & Conrad (Sri Lanka): Up Up & Away (Columbia 33EIX.5017, India, 1968)
Beat
Mignonne Rutnam (joint lead vocals, organ, melodica), Loretta Koch (occasional vocals)
A touch more varied than the typical Jetliners album, this takes in everything from the title track to ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’, ‘Chewy Chewy’, ‘Harpet Valley PTA’ and even ‘Somebody To Love’. As such, this is an eclectic overview of late sixties pop styles, refracted through a guileless Far Eastern prism, and possibly their best album. GRADE: C+.
Jetliners (Sri Lanka): At The Coconut-Grove (No label 5-6017, 1969)
Beat
Mignonne Rutnam, Loretta Koch
Bizarrely, two completely different versions exist of this album – and by ‘completely different’, I mean entirely different track listings. The version I’ve heard was issued on green vinyl and in a generic sleeve, and may have been a bootleg or a private release, though Discogs credits it to EMI Records. The other (Columbia 33EIX.5018, India, 1969) has a conventional Columbia label and sleeve. In any case, the one I’ve heard is in their usual beat style and I’d be willing to wager a significant sum that the one I haven’t is in the same vein and also a C+. GRADE: C+.
Jetliners (Sri Lanka): The Jetliners À Go Go At Blow Up (Columbia S-33EIX.5019, India, 1969)
Beat
Mignonne Rutnam (joint lead vocals, organ), Loretta Koch (occasional vocals)
The cover of the band’s final LP is decidedly psychedelic and there’s fuzz guitar aplenty here; another concession to modernity is the stereo recording (the band’s first). However, the music is still firmly in beat mode, though the fuzz may make this many listeners’ choice for their best album. To my ears, it’s a toss-up between this and Up Up & Away. GRADE: C+.

Jim & Jean (USA): Jim And Jean (Philips PHS-600-182, 1965)
Folk
Jean Glover (joint lead vocals, guitar, autoharp)
Giving few hints of the very creative artists they would soon become, Jim and Jean Glover’s first album is straightforward coffeehouse folk. The duo accompany themselves on acoustic guitars, banjo and autoharp, whilst guests provide additional guitar, bass and harmonica; there are no original compositions. GRADE: C.
Jim & Jean (USA): Changes (Verve Forecast FT / FTS-3001, 1966)
Folk/Rock
Jean Glover (joint lead vocals)
A big step forward from their fairly conventional debut, this features electric band backing on many tracks, including some surprisingly heavy drums plus some hippie baroque elements. Only two of the eleven tracks are self-penned, but it’s very enjoyable nonetheless. Fairport Convention went on to record an excellent cover of ‘One Sure Thing’ on their first album. GRADE: C+.
Jim & Jean (USA): People World (Verve Forecast FTS-3015, 1968)
Folk/Rock
Jean Glover
As different from their second as their second was from their first, People World is a diverse, unpredictable and surprising record. In particular, the opening section of ‘Success’ sounds like the work of a late seventies new wave outfit, built around a simple repeated organ riff, although it develops into a proggy mystical ballad. Meanwhile, ‘Get Out Of My Mind’ is slow, eerie and slightly menacing, and again notable for an almost new wave-like tone to the guitar; ‘Rhythms Of Revolution’ is an odd seven-minute piece that evolves into a recitation of ‘Hang On Sloopy’; ‘Time Goes Backwards’ is superb psychedelia with an Eastern flavour; and the trippy ‘Sweet Water’ is almost acapella. Overall it’s a fitting end to their musical journey, as they were an act that evolved more in three albums than some artists managed in thirty. GRADE: C+.

Jo Mama (USA): Jo Mama (Atlantic SD 8269, 1970)
Rock
Abigale Haness (principal vocals)
Comprising musicians who backed James Taylor and Carole King, Jo Mama offer West Coast rock so laid-back it’s almost horizontal, sometimes resembling a less starry-eyed Grateful Dead circa Wake Of The Flood or From The Mars Hotel. Those expecting incendiary musicianship, relentless invention or even occasional surprises will find nothing of interest here, but I like their relaxed grooves and supple playing. GRADE: C+.
Jo Mama (USA): J Is For Jump (Atlantic SD 8288, 1971)
Rock
Abigale Haness
In the same style as their debut, this is another pleasant, accomplished and unassuming album. Carole King helps out on backing vocals, and in return the band covers her ‘Smackwater Jack’. However, the best cut by far is the six-minute ‘3 AM In LA’, which adds strong jazzy edges and some unexpected dissonance, suggesting that the band might have moved in a more progressive direction had they stayed together. GRADE: C+.

John & Christine (UK): Who Liveth So Merry? (Westwood WSR012, 1972)
Folk
Christine Dossor (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This traditional folk album is by no means bad, but it is remarkably generic. In fact, it could be confused with the work of numerous other outfits on the interconnected Westwood, Folk Heritage and Midas labels. GRADE: C+.

John Bassman Group (Holland/Indonesia): Filthy Sky (ASP 60 600, West Germany, 1969?)
Rock/Psychedelic
Margarete Diana Leemhuis (principal vocals)
The band were Dutch and their singer Indonesian, but their sole album was recorded and pressed just over the border in Aachen, Germany. With some excellent original songs, it’s a charming period piece, alternating between melodic hippie folk/rock and pop/rock and harder-edged psychedelia, almost like a looser, more laid-back Shocking Blue with a stronger Jefferson Airplane influence. Surprisingly, two members of the band went on to form the country/pop group Pussycat, which had a worldwide hit with ‘Mississippi’. GRADE: B–.

John Four (UK): Sing Jonah (MJB BEV LP 517, 1967)
Folk/Pop
Pamela Harris (joint lead vocals)
Only two or three copies have resurfaced of this album, which is among the earliest collectable private pressings. An interesting although uneven LP, the disc sometimes resembles Left-Handed Marriage, with a similar combination of underground folk music and social critique, but at others runs the gamut of sixties folk styles from Seekers-like harmonies to traditional sounds, often with a quirky theatrical twist. GRADE: C+.

Johnny Cole Unlimited (Canada): Hang On Sloopy (Condor CST 2473, 1969)
Pop/Rock
The notorious Condor label issued a slew of exploitation LPs, most of them masterminded by the shadowy Johnny Kitchen. This one is pretty good garage pop and white blues, amateurishly spanning most strands of mid-to-late sixties music with a naïve charm; aside from the title track, most numbers appear to be originals. The band is credited as Jimmy Cole Unlimited on the front cover, but Johnny Cole Unlimited on the rear and labels. GRADE: C+.

Allan Johnston & Friends (UK): North Of The Border (Cora-Linn ODR 001, with insert, 1989)
Folk/Rock
Sheila McWhirter (joint lead vocals)
I’ve seen this private pressing compared to Morrigan, but with its angry political lyrics and full-blooded electric folk sound it’s more similar to the post-Albion Band outfit the Home Service. A consistently good album and sometimes an excellent one, it’s well worth searching out. GRADE: C+.

Joker (West Germany): Flyin’ High (Roxon ROX 5.502, 1983)
Rock
Beate Krause (joint lead vocals)
This obscure band’s main claim to fame is featuring former Carol Of Harvest vocalist Beate Krause, although you’d never realise it as her singing style is completely different here. Musically this is polished, vacuous eighties rock, sometimes tending towards hard rock but also including lots of black music influences, from reggae to soul. GRADE: C.
See also Carol Of Harvest, Thomas Fink Trio & Beate Krause

Liisa & Olavi Jomppanen (Finland): Folklore (Help 701, with poster sleeve, 1980)
Folk/Rock
Liisa Jomppanen
Nobody could argue that the poster sleeve is stunning, but at first I had doubts about the music here, as it’s all so cloyingly sweet. Nonetheless, this brother-and-sister duo harmonise beautifully on this collection of traditional Lappish folk tunes and the backing is both varied and well-judged, even if the orchestrations clearly owe more to light classical than to folk music. That said, this sometimes resembles children’s music and despite its charms would have benefited enormously from an edgy or experimental moment or two. GRADE: C.

Jon & Jodi (USA): Two Sides Of Jon And Jodi (Del-Ray DR1001, 1971)
Folk/Country/Rock
According to the sleevenotes, the ‘two sides of Jon and Jodi’ are ‘original folk music… and the modern country sound’. The former material is often exquisite, with a delicate atmosphere of melancholy and loss (especially on the opening ‘Lady Bug’) whilst the latter is merely competent, unless one loves uptempo pop-tinged country/rock. Had they concentrated solely on the downbeat folk stuff, this could have been a minor classic. GRADE: C+.

Jon & Robin (UK): The Soul Of A Boy And A Girl (Abnak ABST-M-2068, 1967)
Pop
Javonne Braga (joint lead vocals)
As the title suggests, this is a male and female duo performing soul covers, albeit reinterpreted in a mainstream pop style. You won’t be surprised to learn that this is not a work of deep artistry, but they have an excellent backing band, and the result is lively fun, with good guitar and organ work. GRADE: C+.
Jon & Robin (UK): The Jon And Robin Elastic Event (Abnak ABST-M-2070, 1968)
Pop
Javonne Braga
Their second album is in the same vein, with the most notable track being the opening ‘Doctor Jon’, drenched in growling fuzz guitar. As a footnote, the duo’s outfits on the front cover are among the most lurid of the psychedelic era. GRADE: C+.

Jonathan & Leigh (USA): Third And Main (Vanguard VMD 79257, 1967)
Folk/Rock
Leigh Roepken (joint lead vocals, guitar, dulcimer)
A nice period folk/rock set with mainly original material, and the duo accompanying themselves on acoustic guitars and dulcimer. The line-up of backing musicians includes jazz and folk luminaries such as Jay Berliner, Bill Salter and Richard Davis, creating spacious and uncluttered electric settings for their gentle musings. The uncharacteristically dark title track is a particular highpoint, creating a poignant and eerie atmosphere that puts me in mind of Nico’s Chelsea Girl. GRADE: C+.

Manchester Grammar School Christian Music Group & Heather Jones (UK): Young Folk In Worship (BBC REC 75S, 1971)
Heather Jones (joint lead vocals), Susan Burnett (joint lead vocals)
This album was actually largely the handiwork of the Manchester Grammar School Christian Music Group, with Heather Jones guesting as lead vocalist on six of the sixteen tracks. The Jones-fronted cuts are mainly delicate acoustic pieces in the vein of her early solo EPs, whilst the tracks sung by the group themselves have fuller band accompaniment. These ten tracks are split between twee singalongs (fairly standard for this type of record) and more inventive electric pieces, with a breezy, jazzy feel. Overall, this is worth hearing. GRADE: C+.

Harri Webb, Ray Smith, Margaret John, The Hennessys & Heather Jones (UK): The Green Desert (Cambrian CLP 603, 1971)
Spoken Word/Folk
Harri Webb was a Welsh nationalist, poet, politician and librarian, and this album intersperses readings of his work with folk music. The latter is decidedly more interesting than the former, and whilst this inevitably has a rather parochial feel, some of the music is lovely. The disc is also notable for marking the first appearance on album by leading Welsh singer/songwriter Heather Jones, who had previously issued a few EPs as a soloist and in Bara Menyn alongside Meic Stevens. GRADE: C.
Heather Jones (UK): Mae’r Olwyn Yn Troi (Sain 1008M, 1974)
Singer/Songwriter
Heather Jones (lead vocals, guitar)
Jones’s first true solo album mixes delicate, slightly baroque folk/rock with a couple of more uptempo rockers; both styles work effectively, though this never equals the highpoints of her magnificent 1972 EP Colli Iaith(featuring superb Welsh language covers of ‘Woodstock’ and ‘Ruby Tuesday’). Nonetheless, there is plenty to enjoy here, particularly the beautiful (and all-too-brief) ‘Pam Y’r Wyt Ti’n Wylo Wylo?’, with its haunting Mellotron and recorder backing. GRADE: C+.
Heather Jones (UK): Jiawl! (Sain 1047M, 1976)
Folk/Rock
Heather Jones (lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser)
Heavier and rockier than Mae’r Olwyn Yn Troi, this is another fine album, though the boogie-rock tracks that open each side don’t show Jones at her finest. A higher proportion of the material is self-penned this time around, although ‘Cân I Janis’ is a Welsh language interpretation of Trees’ ‘The Garden Of Jane Delawney’, with new lyrics by Jones’s then-husband Geraint Jarman. GRADE: C+.

Heather Jones (UK): Petalau Yn Y Gwynt (Sain C455N, cassette, 1990)
Folk/Rock
Heather Jones (lead vocals, guitar)
Jones’s first album since the seventies is a positive comeback: apart from a few dated synthesiser lines, it’s like she’s never been away. As with her earlier albums, this mixes delicate folk with livelier pop/rock to good effect, though she contributes only one original song this time around. GRADE: C+.

Heather Jones (UK): Hwyrnos (Sain SCD 2268, CD, 2000)
Folk/Rock
Heather Jones (lead vocals, guitar)
Choosing a favourite among Jones’s albums isn’t easy, as they’re somewhat of a piece. However, this is a very strong contender, offering a lovely mixture of somewhat symphonic ballads and delicate folk/rock, all with a huge cathedral-like sound and with the singer in fine voice. GRADE: C+.
Heather Jones (UK): Enaid (Sain SCD22442, CD, 2000)
Folk/Rock
Heather Jones (lead vocals, guitar)
This time round, Jones’s producer and principal instrumentalist is Maartin Allcock, and from time to time this brings Fairport Convention to mind. For the most part, it’s delicate, beautiful and haunting, with well-judged acoustic and occasionally electric arrangements – classic Heather Jones, in other words. GRADE: C+.
Heather Jones (UK): Goreuon – The Best Of Heather Jones (Sain SCD2374, CD, 2004, recorded 1971-1976)
Folk/Rock
Heather Jones (lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser)
This excellent compilation features the entire Mae’r Olwyn Yn Troi album in its original running order, just over half of Jiawl!, three out of four songs from the 1971 EP Colli Iaith (including her magnificent Welsh language covers of ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and ‘Woodstock’, with the latter drenched in howling slide guitar), one song from the 1972 EP Pan Ddaw’r Dydd (the superb ‘Cwm Hiraeth’, probably her most famous song) and a 1971 recording with Huw Jones. The result is an outstanding overview of Jones’s seventies work, though I’m baffled why they didn’t issue a double CD compiling both albums and both EPs in their entirety, complete with original artwork. GRADE: B–.
See also Nia Ben Aur, Redbrass

Janet Jones (UK): Sing To Me, Lady (Midas MR005, 1972)
Folk
Janet Jones (lead vocals, guitar)
Although Janet Jones’s two albums have recently soared in value, I resisted obtaining copies for a long while as I expected them to sound very similar to the first couple of Jancis Harvey LPs on the related Westwood label. In some ways, the comparison turned out to be valid: Jones offers a similar mix of contemporary, traditional and self-penned songs, and also favours mainly acoustic small group backing. Equally, like Harvey, her greatest strength is in her writing: ‘The Bastard Of Normandy’ and ‘The Old Woman’s Lament’ are quite brilliant. But the mood is rather different, thanks to her much more informal style of singing, and the result is a lovely, unassuming LP that could easily appeal to those liking labelmates Folkal Point and Gallery. GRADE: C+.
Janet Jones (UK): Janet Jones (Midas MFHR058, 1974)
Folk
Janet Jones (lead vocals, guitar)
The lack of traditional songs this time around is revealing: whilst the instrumentation and approach remain the same, her second LP is in a much more contemporary style. Although the album is pleasant enough (and in fairness, slightly more consistent than her debut), covers of familiar material like ‘You Never Wanted Me’, ‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘Tomorrow Is A Long Time’ aren’t likely to set anyone’s pulse racing. Worse, bereft of traditional influences, the self-penned numbers (there are three this time) simply aren’t a patch on those on Sing To Me, Lady. GRADE: C.

Karen Jones (Canada): Karen (Canadian Talent Library 477-5146, 1971)
Folk
Gentle, relaxed folk and folk/rock, with Jones contributing about half the material. She has a lovely voice, the settings (centred on acoustic guitar and flute) are tasteful and winsome, and the closing ‘Portrait Of You’ is especially good; unsurprisingly, this obscure LP has become a minor collectors’ item. GRADE: C+.

Simon Jones (Australia): Melanie And Me (Optical Sound Productions MP 810, 1975)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Sue South (joint lead vocals)
Possibly the rarest Australian album, this was the soundtrack to a long-forgotten low-budget film. Musically, it’s basement folk/rock with some excellent lead guitar work and mixed female and male vocals. Most cuts have strong psychedelic influences, with ‘Nine To Five’ sounding rather similar to the Doors with its organ and electric piano solos. Overall this is something of a minor classic and it’s hardly surprising that it’s so sought-after by collectors. GRADE: B.

Janis Joplin (USA): I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! (Columbia KCS 9913, 1969)
Blues/Soul/Rock
Janis Joplin (lead vocals)
Conventional wisdom has it that Joplin should never have left Big Brother & The Holding Company, and that this album (which is neither cosmic nor wholly blues-based, despite the title) is a tame commercial compromise. It’s certainly far slicker than Cheap Thrills, with lots of horns and very few psychedelic elements, but it’s a fine synthesis of soul, blues and rock by any yardstick, and Joplin is in superb voice throughout. GRADE: B–.
Janis Joplin (USA): Pearl (Columbia 30322, 1971)
Rock
Janis Joplin (lead vocals, guitar)
Released posthumously, Joplin’s final album treads a similar musical path to its predecessor, and ends her brief career in style. I love the taut opener ‘Move Over’ (probably the best of her relatively few recorded compositions) and the unintentional instrumental ‘Buried Alive In The Blues’ (Joplin was due to record her vocal the day after she overdosed), but perhaps perversely don’t really rate the two most celebrated tracks (‘Me And Bobby McGee’ and ‘Mercedes-Benz’). GRADE: B–.
Janis Joplin (USA): The Woodstock Experience (Columbia/Legacy 88697 48243 2, double CD, with minisleeves, inners, poster and slipcase, 2009, recorded 1969)
Blues/Soul/Rock
Janis Joplin (principal vocals)
Packaged along with I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! (with the usual Woodstock Experience extras), this very well recorded live set features a decent cross-section of material. For the most part, it focuses on the more soulful end of Joplin’s repertoire, really taking flight with the bluesier and more psychedelic closing double whammy of ‘Piece Of My Heart’ and ‘Ball And Chain’. GRADE: B–.

Janis Joplin & Johnny Winter (USA): Piece Of My Heart (On Stage Entertainment OSE 20011, CD, 2016, recorded 1969)
Rock/Psychedelic
According to the back cover, this is ‘a release of “On Stage Entertainment”, Licensed from Galaxy Music Ltd – Official Radio Broadcast 1969’, but judging from the minimalist packaging and lousy mono sound quality it’s probably a bootleg (even though I bought it from Amazon). As a final deception, Johnny Winter features on just two of the seven songs. At a best guess, this was very likely recorded off-air and mastered from MP3s (given the abrupt and unnecessary silences between tracks). Musically, this is probably a B, but despite my final grade I can’t really recommend this except to completists. GRADE: B–.
See also Big Brother & The Holding Company

Josh & Co Limited (UK): Through These Eyes (Mostly Autumn AUT333, CD, 2008)
Rock
Olivia Sparnenn (occasional vocals)
With Olivia Sparnenn helping out on vocals, Gavin John Griffiths playing drums and Josh himself handling just about everything else, this offshoot project unsurprisingly sounds close to a more stripped-down Mostly Autumn. Like much of that band’s work, it’s melodic, well-crafted and listenable classic rock, without being especially exciting. GRADE: C+.

Josh & Co Ltd (UK): Transylvania – Part 1 – The Count Demands It (Mostly Autumn AUT348, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2016)
Rock/Progressive
Olivia Sparnenn (occasional vocals)
A concept album – and borderline rock opera – about Dracula is unlikely to figure among my all-time favourites, but Bryan Josh sounds revitalised here: he hasn’t produced anything so catchy or energetic or assured for Mostly Autumn in years. For sure, I’d have liked it better without the overly theatrical linking narratives, but I like it and can only hope that future Mostly Autumn projects are this good. GRADE: C+.
See also Breathing Space, Iain Jennings, Mostly Autumn

Joy Of Cooking (USA): Joy Of Cooking (Capitol ST 661, with insert, 1971)
Rock
Toni Brown (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, kalimba), Terry Garthwaite (joint lead vocals, guitar, clarinet)
Joy Of Cooking’s critical reputation vastly outweighed their sales, mainly owing to the era’s rock critics being astounded at the spectacle of a band led by two women (both gifted singers, songwriters and instrumentalists). Before I’d heard their music, I’d always imagined they were country/rock, but (despite a rather country-ish hue to both singers’ voices), their stock-in-trade was actually laid-back West Coast rock; not psychedelic, but very much of the hippie era. None of this is cutting-edge, but the band succeeds in creating some uplifting and almost hypnotic grooves on tracks of up to nearly eight minutes, and the rather brash opening version of ‘Hush’ is the only real low point.

GRADE: C+.
Joy Of Cooking (USA): Closer To The Ground (Capitol SMAS-828, 1971)
Rock
Toni Brown (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Terry Garthwaite (joint lead vocals, guitar)
This is generally considered inferior to their debut, but I don’t hear any drop in quality. In fact, I might even prefer its less rootsy, more rocking sound. At times it resembles harder-edged West Coast outfits like Stoneground, though it’s more organic and feminine in feel, and the prominent and florid keyboard work adds a surprising progressive edge to much of the material. GRADE: C+.
Joy Of Cooking (USA): Castles (Capitol 11050, with inner, 1972)
Rock
Toni Brown (joint lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, maracas), Terry Garthwaite (joint lead vocals, guitar)
The third and final album by their original incarnation is musically similar to its predecessor, and once again their consummate musicianship and highly polished songwriting shine through. As with their other albums, it’s all very good-natured and rather inconsequential – but gentle, lilting West Coast grooves don’t come any more appealing than this. GRADE: C+.
See also Toni Brown, Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite, San Francisco Ltd

Joy Unlimited (West Germany): Overground (Polydor 2371 050, 1970)
Pop/Rock
Joy Fleming (lead vocals)
As Joy & The Hit Kids, this outfit had issued a string of beat/R&B singles in the late sixties, and their first LP under their new identity harks back to those styles whilst mixing in contemporary blues, rock and psychedelic elements. Comparisons could be occasionally drawn with Janis Joplin at her straightest, making for an enjoyable if not especially distinctive LP. Oddly, the album was released as Joy Unlimited in the States (Mercury SR-61283), with a different sleeve and revised running order, and as Turbulence in the UK (Page One POLS 028), with a superb psychedelic cover that far outclasses the other two. GRADE: C+.
Joy Unlimited (West Germany): Schmetterlinge (Pilz 20 21090-1, 1971)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Joy Fleming (lead vocals)
With their second album – the soundtrack to avant-garde ballet – Joy Unlimited went completely off the deep end. Imagine Affinity fronted by Janis Joplin exploring free-jazz textures in an album of startling complexity and variety and you’d be close, but that still doesn’t capture how odd and eclectic this is. The result is a remarkable trip that wanders across the map of rock, jazz, blues and experimental styles without ever settling anywhere; inevitably some sections work better than others and the whole thing is a little disjointed, but it’s certainly a unique listening experience. Following the album’s release, Joy Fleming went solo, releasing a string of pop, jazz and MOR albums that are well outside the scope of this website. GRADE: B–.

Anne Joyal (Canada): Eveil (Telson AE-1501, with inner, 1976)
Singer/Songwriter
Anne Joyal (lead vocals, guitar)
This pleasant singer/songwriter set has delicate, dreamy electric band backing, giving it an impressionistic, mildly trippy feel. Occasionally it recalls Hejira or Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter-era Joni Mitchell and also brings to mind the breezy, mellow mood typical of Québécois progressive rock, probably due to the personnel involved. GRADE: C+.
Anne Joyal (Canada): Un Peu De Moi (Cam CML-2001, 1979)
Singer/Songwriter
Anne Joyal (lead vocals, guitar)
Whereas Joyal wrote everything alone on her debut, here she co-writes almost everything, suggesting she was running out of material. However this isn’t at all obvious on listening, as this is another well-crafted and mellifluous album. In fact, the only notable difference is that this includes a couple of rockers, which work quite well. GRADE: C+.

Fiona Joyce (Ireland): Behind Closed Doors (River Valley RV1, with inner, 1991)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk/Psychedelic
Fiona Joyce (principal vocals, guitar)
With delicate, spacy songs based around Joyce’s acoustic guitar and Gerry Hendrik’s trippy lead guitar, this is a lovely album bridging the singer/songwriter and psychedelic folk genres. Joyce is both a talented songwriter and gifted interpreter of others’ material (as her stunning version of ‘Crazy Man Michael’ proves), and the whole thing has a melancholy, distinctly Celtic atmosphere that at times recalls everyone from Gay & Terry Woods to Mellow Candle. GRADE: B–.
Fiona Joyce (Ireland): This Eden (River Valley RVCD 3, CD, 1994)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Fiona Joyce (lead vocals, guitar)
This time round, Joyce writes everything, and it sounds as though her recording budget has increased considerably. The fuller band arrangements bring her delicate, melancholy material to life, resulting in a magnificent and bittersweet set of songs that climaxes on the thrilling guitar solo that closes the album. GRADE: B.
Fiona Joyce (Ireland): Lifting The Veil (River Valley RVCD 4, CD, 1997)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Fiona Joyce (lead vocals, guitar)
Whilst broadly in her usual style, Lifting The Veil sees Joyce breaking some new ground: ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Someone’ are upbeat rockers. They’re by no means bad, but they don’t suit her voice and writing style particularly well (and nor does the drum machine that puts in intermittent appearances). This is a consistently good album, and sometimes a great one, but it’s nowhere near as single-minded or sure-footed as its predecessor. GRADE: B–.
Fiona Joyce (Ireland): Sacred Space (River Valley RVCD 2001, CD, 2001)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Fiona Joyce (lead vocals, guitar)
Joyce’s final album tones down the acid-folk edges, though several of its cuts still achieve a hazy, trippy beauty. In particular, the nine-minute title track is one of the best things she ever did, making this a fitting end to her all-too-brief career. GRADE: B–.

Jessy Joyce (France): Love Me (Barclay 120-330.117, 1976)
Rock/Metal
Jessy Joyce (lead vocals)
Packaged in a strikingly odd minimalist cover depicting two topless models (one black, one white), this is an enjoyable album of bluesy hard rock. Several songs also have funky edges, with a feel vaguely recalling contemporary Ike & Tina Turner. The album was co-written and co-produced by legendary prog-disco maestro Jean-Pierre Massiera. GRADE: C+.
J Joyce & Co (France): J Joyce And Co (Eurodisc 913 190, 1978)
Disco
Joyce’s second and final album is epic orchestrated disco, with the material mostly comprising cover versions. It’s very well done, and sought-after by genre collectors, but she’s hardly Donna Summer and Jean-Pierre Massiera was hardly Giorgio Moroder. In fact, its most noteworthy feature is probably the striking textured silver cover. The disc was released as French Funk in a number of territories, with the Swedish issue having a completely different and much inferior sleeve. GRADE: C.

Joyful Noise (USA): Nativity (No label LP S 200-38, with insert, 1975?)
Rock
Debbie Gungor (occasional vocals), Gayle Hensley (occasional vocals), Lynn Ann Kimberley (drums)
For the most part, this rare album offers low-key, mid-paced guitar-led rock: well-done, competent and listenable, but utterly lacking in distinction. However, on the eleven-minute title track, which takes up most of side two, they up things several notches to offer a very good piece of prog. It’s a pity they didn’t demonstrate more ambition on the rest of the LP, as they clearly had talent. GRADE: C+.

Joyful Sound (UK): It Will Be Worth It All (SRT 73278, 1973)
Rock
Only a couple of copies are known of this obscure Christian band’s privately-pressed album. It’s a touch countryish, a hint gospelish, a mite loungy, but doesn’t really fall into any of those categories. With stripped-down arrangements from electric guitars, bass and drums, it has a strong garage edge, great guitar leads to most songs (including a little fuzz) and two female singers, one of whom has a shrill, powerful voice recalling Annisette Hansen from the Danish band Savage Rose. Overall, it’s not brilliant but it’s certainly one of the more interesting unknown private releases. GRADE: C+.

Juárez (USA): Juárez (Decca DL 75189, 1970)
Folk/Pop
Barbara Smith
This obscure folk/pop album takes many of its cues from the Mamas & The Papas, but it’s also quite experimental, embracing elements of English church music, European traditional folk, flamenco and more. There’s even a long proggy closer, ‘St. Mary’s Railroad’, that goes in a number of different directions. The biggest weakness, however, is the lack of really good songs. GRADE: C.

Julian’s Treatment (UK/Australia/Dominican Republic): A Time Before This (Youngblood SYB 2, double, 1970)
Cathy Pruden (lead vocals)
Julian Jay Savarin is best known as a writer of science fiction novels and thrillers, but he was also a very gifted composer and musician. This is a musical adaptation of one of his works, and gives no hint of his Caribbean origins, with his florid Hammond organ work fronting a stripped-down, jamming progressive rock combo. The follow-up, Waiters On The Dance, was issued under Savarin’s own name and is musically similar, but even more accomplished. GRADE: B–.

Pauline Julien (Canada): Fragile (Zodiaque ZO-6900, 1971)
Rock
Pauline Julien (lead vocals)
This veteran Quebecois singer/songwriter, actress and political activist issued quite a few albums during the sixties, but as far as I’m aware they’re straight chanson stuff and outside the remit of this book. This one is in more of a contemporary pop/rock style, and is musically solid without being outstanding. Anyone who likes the idea of a straighter twist on artists like Catherine Ribeiro and Béatrice Tekielski should investigate the far superior second side. GRADE: C+.
Pauline Julien (Canada): Au Milieu De Ma Vie, Peut-Être À La Veille De… (Zodiaque ZOX-6002, 1972)

Rock
Pauline Julien (lead vocals)
Once again, she often resembles an updated Édith Piaf, but overall this is probably her best album. It’s also the one for rock fans to get, thanks to the excellent ‘La Vie À Mort’, which has a pounding rhythm and plenty of fuzz guitar, and the dramatic, Catherine Ribeiro-like ‘Eille’. GRADE: C+.
Pauline Julien (Canada): Allez Voir, Vous Avez Des Ailes (Zodiaque ZOX-6007, 1973)
Rock
Pauline Julien (lead vocals)
Rather similar to its predecessor, the LP again includes one superb heavy rock cut (‘L’Extase’). GRADE: C+.

Julverne (Belgium): Emballade… (Hasard HAS037, with insert, 1983)
Jazz/MOR/Avant-Garde
Ilona Châle (principal vocals), Jacqueline Rosenfeld (violin), Jeanine Lantremange (viola), Claudine Steenackers (cello)
This unusual RIO album takes the whimsy of Slapp Happy’s self-titled LP to its logical conclusions, stripping away any rock and pop elements and focusing on dainty chamber orchestra arrangements. With versions of songs and instrumentals by Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington and others, it’s a perfect evocation of twenties and thirties music, and the ideal soundtrack for an epic silent film or a relaxing tea dance. GRADE: B–.
Julverne (Belgium): Ne Parlons Pas De Malheur (Igloo IGL 042, 1986)
Classical
Lucie Grauman (occasional vocals), Jacqueline Rosenfeld (violin, viola), Claudine Steenackers (cello)
Completely different from its predecessor and far removed from rock, this is a beautifully-crafted album of neoclassical chamber music. On the only vocal number ‘Theobald Boehm’, they sound uncannily similar to Opus Avantra, but elsewhere it’s difficult to find comparisons within the rock pantheon. GRADE: B.

See also Daniel Schell & Karo
Julverne (Belgium): Le Pavillon Des Passions Humaines (Igloo+ IGLO152, CD, 2000)
Classical
Laurence Cornez (piano, percussion), Edith Heudens (viola), Claudine Steenackers (cello)
This reunion album is once again classical chamber music: delicate, beautifully crafted and very intricate. Whether or not this should be regarded as progressive music, let alone progressive rock, is an interesting debate, but it’s certainly worth hearing. GRADE: B.

Jumble Lane (UK): Jumble Lane (Holyground HG 115, no sleeve, 1971)
Folk/Pop/Rock/Lounge/Psychedelic
Marcia (occasional vocals, guitar), Linda King (occasional vocals, guitar), Tina Barnes (washboard)
Of all the albums issued on the celebrated Holyground label, Jumble Lane (released in a run of 99 copies) is certainly the strangest. Jumble Lane was not really a band per se, but a collective of musicians from a Yorkshire college, working in various permutations on the different tracks (a little like York Pop Music Project), which may explain the schizophrenic overall sound. The album opens with a couple of excellently played classical guitar themes, but quickly enters much weirder waters, trawling through folk, heavy psychedelia, blues, skiffle and even lounge (a quarter of a century before it became fashionable), mixing them up in increasingly bizarre combinations. GRADE: C+.

Jumis (Latvia): Sky’s Eye (Melodiya C60 30147, USSR, 1990)
Progressive
Olga Rajecka (joint lead vocals)
This neoprog album suffers from a rather thin sound, with synthesisers and computerised drums being the primary instruments. That said, there is quite a bit of heavy guitar work too, but the lack of a real rhythm section and truly outstanding material makes this a decidedly one-dimensional LP. GRADE: D+.

Jumpleads (UK): The Stag Must Die (Ock OC 001, with insert, 1982)
Folk/Rock
Caroline Ritson (lead vocals, violin)
This is a rather good electric folk album, reinterpreting traditional songs and jigs with plenty of concertina and violin but also lots of electric guitar, bass and drums. In keeping with the era, reggae rhythms appear on several tracks, adding a festival flavour to the material. As a footnote, the insert isn’t a lyric sheet but a drawing of a stag’s head that can be cut out and assembled. GRADE: C+.

Shin Jung Hyun & Donkeys (South Korea): Donkeys 2 (Shin Hyang DG-1033, 1969)
Pop/Garage
Lee Jung Hwa (lead vocals)
This charmingly naïve Korean garage pop LP offers mono sound quality, lots of trebly organ and fuzz guitar, and catchy, upbeat material. More surprisingly, it also includes a side-long track where the band stretch out and even include a short and primitive drum solo. All the songs were apparently re-recordings of material from a 1967 album, which I have not heard. GRADE: C+.

Junior Squad (Venezuela): New Pop Group (Discomoda DCM 571, 1966)
Beat
Teresita Díaz
This enjoyable garage pop album offers Spanish language covers of familiar mid-sixties pop tunes like ‘Silence Is Golden’, ‘A World Of Our Own’ and ‘Happy Together’, plus a few more obscure numbers. With plenty of trebly organ and a bright, lively sound, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable example of its genre. GRADE: C+.
Junior Squad (Venezuela): Vol. II (Discomoda DCM 628, 1967)
Beat
Teresita Díaz
Unlike their first, this is in stereo, and a couple of cuts use that odd early sixties-style stereo separation, with voices in one channel and instruments in the other. Overall, however, this feels more contemporary than their first, with mainly original material, a dreamy and slightly trippy mood, and a couple of excellent instrumentals featuring stinging fuzz guitar. GRADE: C+.

Junior Squad (Venezuela): Baila Muchacha (Discomoda DCM 662, 1968)
Beat
Teresita Díaz
The opening title track shows that Junior Squad are remaining abreast of contemporary musical trends: with its growling fuzz bass, funky rhythm and excited yells, it demonstrates clear influences from Sly & The Family Stone. The remainder is in their more familiar lively beat style, but this is somewhat more soulful than usual, whilst remaining as enjoyable as ever. GRADE: C+.
Junior Squad (Venezuela): Arriba!! Con Los Junior Squad (Discomoda DCM 684, 1969)
Beat
Teresita Díaz
The group’s final album doesn’t offer anything as startling as the title track of its predecessor, but it confirms that they’re musical magpies, touching on both bubblegum and ska (though the vast majority of the music could easily have been recorded two or three years earlier). As a footnote, the disc was also released in the USA as Sugar-Sugar Con Los Junior Squad (Inca 1007). GRADE: C+.

Jupiter Society (Sweden): First Contact/Last Warning (Progrock PRR530, CD, USA, 2008)

Progressive/Metal

Cia Backman (occasional vocals)

Mixing symphonic neoprogressive with elements of metal, this is a science fiction concept album (as the band name and title suggest). Original, creative or mouldbreaking it isn’t, but it’s unassuming, listenable stuff. GRADE: C+.
Jupiter Society (Sweden): Terraform (Progrock PRR531/SPV 452822 CD, CD, 2009)
Progressive/Metal
Cia Backman (backing vocals)
Their second album proves that for all they may be highly derivative, Jupiter Society have a quite distinctive sound of their own. Epic, dramatic and melodic, this is another solid album but they’re certainly not pushing any boundaries here. GRADE: C+.
Jupiter Society (Sweden): From Endangered To Extinct (Fosfor Creation CWJ53, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2013)
Progressive/Metal
Cia Backman (occasional vocals)
Their third is again a competent set, if a little messy in places, but this isn’t a band to whom artistic development is a key concept.

GRADE: C+.

Just Good Friends (UK): Just Good Friends (JGF JGF A100, 1972)
Lounge/Pop/Rock
Debbie French (joint lead vocals), Ann French (joint lead vocals), Lindy Christian (joint lead vocals)
Cheesy end-of-the-pier lounge covers, in a wonderfully tacky period sleeve. GRADE: C.

Justine (UK/USA): Justine (Uni UNLS 111, 1970)
Pop/Folk/Progressive
Laurie Styvers (joint lead vocals), Valerie Cope (joint lead vocals), Bethlyn Bates (joint lead vocals)
The album’s transatlantic harmony pop reflects its Anglo-American line-up (though its two founders and main songwriters were English). Whilst their basic style was rather dated for 1970, they kept abreast of contemporary trends with some good fuzz guitar work and an excellent prog-influenced closer ‘Unknown Journey’. More consistent and less folky than their contemporaries Tudor Lodge, they failed commercially for the same reason: their material wasn’t catchy enough for mainstream pop success and was too gentle and commercial for underground audiences. Laurie Styvers, one of three female vocalists here, went on to issue a couple of albums as a singer/songwriter. GRADE: C+.
See also Laurie Styvers