New York-based singer-songwriter Janis Ian (Fink) became a sensation when, only
15 years old, she recorded the inter-racial love affair
Society's Child (1966), that was banned for one year.
Janis Ian (Verve, 1967) offered a few more portraits of teenage angst
(Janey's Blues, # New Christ Cardiac Hero,
Younger Generation Blues).
Unfortunately, she wasted her talent by recording too many mediocre songs on
too many albums:
For All the Seasons of Your Mind (1968), containing the ode to suicide
Insanity Comes Quietly to the Structured Mind,
The Secret Life of J. Eddy Fink (1968), on which she obsessively
revisits her roots and her stardom
(42nd St Psycho Blues, When I Was A Child),
Who Really Cares (1969),
Present Company (Capitol, 1971).
She retired at 19.
Her rebirth began with
Stars (Columbia, 1974), which includes Jesse, and
Between The Lines (1975), which contains At Seventeen,
Tea And Sympathy and Lover's Lullaby;
and peaked with Aftertones (1976), that contains
I Would Like To Dance.
Alas, Ian made the same mistake again: she continued milking the same
inspiration and spread it over so many recordings that none is worth much.
Miracle Row (1977), another autobiographical concept,
and Janis Ian (1978) are undistinguished
imitations of her style.
Night Rains (1979) was a disco experiment with Giorgio Moroder and
other disco producers (Fly Too High).
Restless Eyes (1981) and Uncle Wonderful (1983) were her
most conventional collections of pop songs.
After a ten-year hiatus (and after relocating to Nashville), Ian re-entered
a recording studio. Her latter-day albums,
Breaking Silence (Morgan Creek, 1993),
Revenge (Beacon, 1995),
Hunger (Windham Hill, 1997)
and God & The FBI (2000), are more carefully written, sung and
orchestrated than many of her previous ones, but Ian now targets the generic
adult audience. She deals with social issues, and does not shun the morbid
ones (whether rape of child abuse).
Society's Child (Polydor) is a two-CD career anthology.
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