Song of the Week – I Mean to Shine, Linda Hoover

Ignored            Obscured             Restored

As many of you know, I’m a huge Steely Dan fan.  It pains me that they are often now labeled as Yacht Rock.  They are so much better, consistent, and eclectic than most of the schlock that falls into that genre – popular though it is!

So whenever I learn about some Steely Dan obscurities, I need to go deep to learn more.  In April 2020 I wrote about the song “American Lovers” by Thomas Jefferson Kaye that featured most of Pretzel Logic era Steely Dan as his backing group.

Today I’d like to introduce you to “I Mean to Shine”, by Linda Hoover, which was written by The Dan’s Donald Fagen and Walter Becker.

Like Kaye’s recording, Hoover’s record was produced by Gary Katz and featured several members of the early Steely Dan line-up (Becker, Fagen, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Denny Dias), but two year’s before their debut would appear.

The album had songs composed by The Band’s Richard Manuel (“In a Station”), Stephen Stills (4 + 20), three by Hoover herself, and five by Becker/Fagen.

So why are we just discovering this now?  Well, the answer has an interesting backstory.

As it turns out, Katz heard the 19-year-old Hoover and wanted to promote her recording career.  He introduced her to the legendary, mob associated, Morris Levy of Roulette Records.  Knowing how Levy operated, Katz enticed (bribed?) Levy to sign Hoover by offering him publishing rights to the songs.  The only problem was that Katz could only deliver on his offer with Hoover’s compositions.  When Levy saw the record cover and realized he would only be paid for three songs, he was pissed off and put the kibosh on its release.  The album sat dormant in the vaults until last summer when it was finally released by Omnivore Records.  Hoover was 71 upon release!

If “I Mean to Shine” sounds familiar to you it is probably because Barbra Streisand released a version in 1971.  On her version, she was backed by the all-female group Fanny with Bobby Keyes and Jim Price on horns.

Linda Hoover’s album deserved to be heard 50 years ago.  At least we finally have it now.  Give the full album a listen on Spotify.

Enjoy… until next week.

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