LINDA HOOVER – ” That I Mean To Shine “

Posted: June 18, 2022 in MUSIC

“That I Mean To Shine” sounds a bit dated turns out not to be surprising, because the album dates from 1970, although it was never released at the time. Linda Hoover was fourteen years old when she was discovered in 1966 by producer Gary Katz, who would become known in the 70s for the perfectly produced albums of Steely Dan. Gary Katz promised the very young Linda Hoover a record deal when she finished school and kept this promise when Linda Hoover soon left college in 1970 and opted for an uncertain existence as a musician.

Gary Katz produced “I Mean To Shine” and called in the help of the at that time unknown Steely Dan foremen Walter Becker and Donald Fagen for the music on the album, who also co-wrote quite a few songs on the album. Quite a few other top musicians came to the studio in New York, because the record company had big plans with Linda Hoover. Gary Katz took 19 year-old singer-songwriter Linda Hoover into the studio to record her first album, Joining them were the duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen leading a team of musicians including guitarists Denny Dias, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, and Eric Weissberg, saxophonist Jerome Richardson, plus members of the Dick Cavett Show’s orchestra.  The album was to feature three songs from Hoover, two covers (The Band’s “In A Station” and Stephen Stills’ “4+20”), and six songs from the up-and-coming team of Becker and Fagen.  But the release was not to be.  The owner of Roulette Records, Morris Levy, would shelve the album due to a dispute over publishing.  The title song by Becker and Fagen was then given to Barbra Streisand who included it on her contemporary-focused Barbra Joan Streisand album.  Fagen and Becker would form Steely Dan in 1971 (with Katz onboard to produce and Dias and Baxter joining the band) and start a career which lead to ground breaking albums and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

However, a somewhat dull business conflict arose over the rights, which eventually put the album on the shelf. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen would soon become world famous with Steely Dan, but Linda Hoover disappeared disillusioned with anonymity.

Decades later, the American musician got her hands on the original tapes of “I Mean To Shine” and after a number of special arrangements, including twelve hours in an oven, everything fortunately turned out to be flawless on the tape and thought could be given to a release of the album. That release is now here, 52 years after the album was recorded.

It may take some getting used to the somewhat dated sound on the album, but that is a lot easier when you know that it is a forgotten classic from a distant past. Musically, “I Mean To Shine” is an interesting album, especially when you hear snippets of the recognizable Steely Dan sound or top guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter shine.

I Mean To Shine” is a pretty versatile album with influences from folk, country, jazz and pop. It is an album with perhaps somewhat old-fashioned looking, but also surprisingly timeless sounding songs, which, just like the music, come into their own better when you know that they are more than fifty years old.

Linda Hoover makes the most impression with her special voice and all the feeling with which she interprets her songs. It’s an achievement that gets even better when you realize that she was only 18 years old during the recording of the album. It is also a voice that becomes more beautiful the more you listen to the album.

It’s not hard to imagine what would have happened if “I Mean To Shine” had appeared in 1970. I myself am convinced that in that case the album would now be known as a classic. Linda Hoover’s debut is probably not going to be that anymore, but it is definitely a forgotten gem. Probably not the most popular RSD release of today, but a very nice and a very special one. 

You’ll find “I Mean To Shine” by Linda Hoover with a bit of luck among the Record Store Day releases of June 18th, 2022

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