THE JONES GIRLS
Ask anyone who knows their soul "what is your favourite female group of all time", and don't be surprised if they answer "The Jones Girls".
Why? Because this is a group that has produced some of the tracks that defined a generation of soul music, and technically are as good as anyone in the business.
The group that started its career as support for none other than Diana Ross forged a superlative career to become one of the all time girl-group-greats. In fact, we would say THE Girl group of all time. And they are still going strong to date, sadly without Valerie, who died in 2001. We in the UK were privileged to have the presence of Shirley Jones at London's Jazz Cafe in 2008, and are pleased to report that she is sounding as wonderful as ever.
Many of you will be familiar with The Jones Girls music, in particular "Nights Over Egypt" and "This Feeling's Killing Me". These have become popular soul classics with widespread appeal, appearing in recent years on many soul collection CDs.
Any true soul connoisseur will have a selection of the Jones Girls definitive LPs in their record collections - or probably all of them - a majority of which are now available on CD (see our recommended section to the right).
During the 80s, The Jones Girls created a considerable following, and were a central part of the wonderful StreetSounds era of music. In fact, two of their tracks appeared on the StreetSounds collections, the amazing "Keep It Comin'", which is frequently appears in lists of soul fans all time favourite favourites, and the equally brilliant "Knockin'"; plus they featured on their own edition of StreetSounds, The Artists.
Beyond their incredible voices, the Girls worked with the best in the business. The "Keep It Comin'" track was produced by the amazing Keni Burke, the man behind so much good music as both a solo artist and producer; Robert Wright and Fonzi Thornton, who were responsible for "Knockin" and the dance floor classic "2 Win U Back"; Dexter Wansel ("Nights Over Egypt" and the amazing "She Knew About Me" from Shirley's solo album); and soul royalty Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, who produced too many great soul artists to mention.
We mentioned at the top of this review that the Jones Girls were technically excellent. To prove out point, take a listen to the "She Knew About Me Track", a small clip of which is available here. Any singer developing her craft could learn much from the voice control and sensitivity that Shirley Jones demonstrates here, although very few will have the raw, natural talent of this amazing trio.
In fact, talent such as this comes along so rarely. These days, we have a handful of female singers who are regarded as the "best in the business". The likes of Beyonce, Celine Dion and Amy Winehouse are credited as being the leading female singers around. We are not here to criticize these artists by any means: listening pleasure, in our view, has nothing to do with winning awards, or labelling one singer as better than another. But what is clear is that an artist such as Shirley Jones, who has worked with the best and served up some of the finest vocals ever heard, deserves her place alongside the very greatest of all time. Shirley, we and your many many adoring fans, thank you for all you have done.
We at Radiocafe know that there is a vast following of Jones Girls fans out there, particularly in the UK where you, the Great British public, really know your soul music. We only hope that a new generation of fans will discover the magic of the Jones GIrls, and fall under their spell in the same way as many of us did back in the 70s and 80s when we heard their music for the first time.
The best news of all is that their music is more affordable than ever, with a majority of the original albums now available on excellent two-on-one CDs at bargain prices. If you like soul music, we urge you, if you have not done already, to add some of these to your collection, as we know you will not be disappointed.
You should like this artist if you like any of these...
Diana Ross / The Supremes
SWV (Sisters With Voices)
The Jones Girls comprised of:
Brenda Elaine Jones Williams (b. 7th December 1954)
Shirley Yvonne Jones (b. 22nd September 1953)
Valorie Denise Jones (b. 17th April 1956, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. d. 2nd December 2001, Sinai Grace Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.).
The Jones Girls were, originally, from Detroit and were the daughters of the singer Mary Frazier Jones. They came to fame after working with Diana Ross on a U.S. tour.
The Girls had toured with the Four Tops additionally, as well as Little Richard, The Impressions and B.B. King.
In 1970, they recorded the songs 'Learn How To Love' (on Ember Records) and 'My Own Special Way' (on Ember Records, additionally).
A year later, saw the release of 'Oh I Feel Good' and 'Put A Little Love In Your Heart'.
In 1972, they had further singles released including 'Come Back' (on the Music Merchant imprint, a subsidiary of the Holland / Dozier / Holland Invictus label), 'You're The Only Bargain I've Got' and 'Your Love Controls Me' (on the Music Merchant imprint).
1973, saw the single 'Taster Of The Honey' released on the Music Merchant imprint.
Early in 1974, the Girls recorded two songs entitled ''If You Don't Love Me No More' (Paramount 0279) b/w 'If You Don't Start Nothing', which were initially released on that Paramount imprint.
In 1974, their attributed debut single entitled 'Will You Be There' was released for the Paramount imprint (Paramount 0921), a song that was accompanied by the single 'I Need You' for the same label.
It was through their association with the Impressions, that the Girls met Curtis Mayfield who took them to his, Chicago based, Curtom Imprint, where they recorded several sides.
These included 'I Turn To You' (Curtom 0102), in 1975 and the songs 'Misteri' ('Mister-I') and 'Hey Lucinda' b/w 'Dr Big Smile' (CMS 0108).
At this time the Girls recorded several sides that were never released.
These included 'Treat Me Like A Lady', 'Waiting For The Last Goodbye', 'The Proof Is In The Pudding', 'Man On The Take' and 'Plain Jane'.
By 1978 they had sang background vocals for Aretha Franklin on the Curtis Mayfield produced outing 'Almighty Fire'.
They later recorded with Linda Clifford on 'Runaway Love' before the tour that took them to a higher level with Diana Ross.
The Jones Girls accompanied Diana on a marathon tour which took them to Philadelphia and to the attention of Kenny Gamble.
They had also worked with Diana Ross in the studio, however, none of these sides have seen the light of day.
At Philadelphia International, they provided background vocals for other artists at the label.
These include Dexter Wansel, Lou Rawls and Jean Carn.
Kenny Gamble recruited the Girls to his Philadelphia International imprint in 1979 and a series of excellent releases followed.
There they released four albums, 'The Jones Girls' in 1979, (including 'This Feeling's Killing Me', 'You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else' and 'Life Goes On'), 'At Peace With Woman' in 1980, (including 'Dance Turned Into A Romance' and 'Let's Celebrate'), 'Get As Much Love As You Can' in 1981, (including 'Nights Over Egypt' and 'Love Don't Ever Say Goodbye'), and 'Keep It Comin' in 1984, (including 'You Can't Have My Love' and 'Ah Ah Ah Ah', a collaboration with Keni Burke).
Away from Philadelphia they provided background vocals for the likes of , Freda Payne, Lamont Dozier, Thelma Houston, Norman Connors ('Take It To The Limit'), Prince Phillip Mitchell ('Make It Good'), L.J. Reynolds, Michael Pedicin Jr, Glenn Jones ('I Am Somebody'), Margie Joseph, Brass Fever ('Time Is Running Out'), Walter Jackson, George Duke, Noel Pointer and Bobby Wilson.
In 1983 they relocated from Philadelphia International to the RCA imprint for one album entitled 'On Target', (including '2 Win U Back', 'On Target' and 'Knockin').
Shirley Jones debut solo album 'Always In The Mood' was released in 1986 and charted with the single 'Do You Get Enough Love?'.
Valorie Denise Jones, sadly, died in 2001. She was 45 years old.
This profile was kindly supplied by the incredible Soul Walking site, the leading resource on soul music on the web.