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Janice Harrington/Kenn Lending: Magic

Over the past 35 years, Janice Harrington’s remarkable career has encompassed USO tours of Southeast Asia (at the height of the Vietnam war), stints in Vegas, gigs with Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Lionel Hampton, a recurring role on the afternoon soap Days of Our Lives and a decade as producer of the North German Gospel and Spiritual Festival. Along the way, she’s preached her “ministry of music” on nine CDs and produced gala salutes to Cole Porter, Dinah Washington and Mahalia Jackson. On Magic (Nagel-Heyer), recorded in 1988 but not mastered or released until last autumn, Harrington’s combines the joyful feistiness of Washington and the authority of Etta James on ten tracks, seven of which she wrote or cowrote.

The album alternates between clean-living anthems like her funkified “The Huh Huh” and hard-driving “Double Dynamite” and such bluesy explorations of romantic turbulence as the blistering “Making Plans,” the testifyin’ “Telephone Blues” and the slow cookin’ “Seven Days a Week Man Blues.” Working alongside Danish guitarist Kenn Lending and his blues band, Harrington also serves up let-it-all-hang-out covers of “C.C. Rider,” Jimmy Reed’s “You Got Me Running” and Magic Slim’s “I Ain’t Doin’ Too Bad.” As too-long-buried treasures go, it’s an absolute gem.

Originally Published