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Music Review: Donna Loren – Magic: The ’80s Collection

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It has always perplexed me that Donna Loren did not become a star but such is life in the music field. She is best remembered for appearing in four films with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. She sang a song in Beach Blanket Bingo, Bikini Beach, Muscle Beach Party, and Pajama Party but I don’t think she ever had a line of dialogue. She would go on to perform on Shindig and appear in such television shows as Dr. Kildare, Batman, and The Monkees but would gradually fade from the public eye.

Through the early eighties she was married to the president of Warner Brothers Records. This gave her a lot of free time in their recording studios. She would record every month or so and surrounded herself with such musicians as John Thomas and the legendary James Burton. Several of the tracks were released over the years and others have just sat gathering dust.

Just the presence of James Burton should generate interest. He is one of the best guitarists alive and is still remembered for leading bands for Rick Nelson (1958-1967), Elvis Presley (1969-1977), and John Denver (1978-1994).

Donna Loren has now gathered these 80s recordings and released them under the title Magic: The 80’s Collection. It is a mixed affair of styles mainly do to the intermittent recording schedule. Through it all, however, Donna Loren proves she has a a powerful and formidable voice.

The albums two best tracks are truly mismatched. Her rendition of the old war horse “Wishin’ and Hopin” is a nice slice of early eighties pop. The real gem is her self penned “Sedona.” James Burton re-assembled some of his old Elvis band mates for this country tune. Drummer Ronnie Tutt, bassist Jimmy Scheff, and piano player Glen D. Hardin back her on this sophisticated song which I believe could still be a hit.

While there are a few misses and some eighties excess, several other songs also stand out. “Could This Be Magic” is catchy but would have been better served to not have so many instruments yet it still contains a superior vocal. “Somewhere Down The Road” is a good vehicle for her to strut her vocal prowess.

Magic: The 80’s Collection is a nice look at an under rated and long lost artist. It was released in 2009 and provided the impetus for her return to the studio to record a new album titled Love It Away. Welcome back Donna Loren!

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  • Brian Quinn

    Just a small point. The bass player mentioned should read Jerry Scheff and not Jimmy Scheff.