“Joan Armatrading” by Joan Armatrading (1976)
Release Date: September 1976
Produced by Glyn Johns
Genre: Rock, Pop, Folk-Rock, Blues
Chart Positions: #11 (New Zealand), #12 (UK), #52 (Australia), #67 (US)
Certifications: Gold (UK, Canada)
Singles and Chart Positions:
“Love And Affection” #10 (UK), #16 (Ireland)
“Down To Zero” (no chart data)
Singles Certifications: N/A
Other Charting Tracks: N/A
Best Tracks: “Love and Affection,” “Water With The Wine,” “People,” “Join The Boys,” “Like Fire,” “Tall In The Saddle”
Trivia: “Joan Armatrading” is Joan’s third studio album and her first to chart anywhere in the world. This is the album that put Joan on the map. The album mixes acoustic work with jazz-influenced material and displays Joan’s range of interest in music. The album was a big hit in the UK reaching #12 accompanied with a Top 10 UK hit “Love and Affection.”
"Love and Affection" 1976
In 1976, Robin Denselow wrote in The Guardian that the album "showed that we now have a black artist in Britain with the same sort of vocal range, originality (in fact even greater originality in terms of musical influences) and lyrical sensitivity" as Joni Mitchell.
Producer Glyn Johns has produced albums for many greats including Steve Miller Band, Eagles, Humble Pie, The Who, Boz Scaggs, Eric Clapton and more. He helped launch Joan Armatrading’s career when he was hired on to produce this album. He remained with her on her next three albums.
Joan signed to A&M Records is 1972 but it wasn't until after A&M gained worldwide rights to Joan's music that they decided to pour a good amount of money and effort into promoting Joan. A 3 1/2 minute film clip of the singer/guitarist performing "Love and Affection." A&M spent an unprecedented nine months promoting Armatrading's self-titled album, which included magazine ads, television spots (such as an appearance on Saturday Night Live) and promo copies of the album sent to every music critic and concert promoter throughout the world as well as a few film clips one of which shows comments from reviews. A&M spent near $300,000 promoting the album before it was even released.
Up to this point, Armatrading had shown that she had a lovely voice and an ear for interesting arrangements, but her work had been steeped in the folk idiom of the early '70s. Her third album changed all that, with producer Glyn Johns bringing in members of Gallagher & Lyle, Fairport Convention, and the Faces to punch up her folksy sound with elements of rock, country, and disco. The result is her most muscular music to date, with Armatrading adopting a swagger that showed her tales of unluckiness in love didn't have to have dire consequences ("Tall in the Saddle," "Water With the Wine"). Of course, it helped that the record featured her best material delivered in a wonderfully expressive voice that can capture the shades between song and speech like a sweeter version of Ian Anderson. "Down to Zero" (which features pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole) and "Love and Affection" are the album's most memorable tracks, the latter breaking into the U.K.'s Top Ten (the album itself made the U.K. Top 20). But what endears this record to fans is the quality of each song; it wouldn't be fair to call anything here filler. The artsy and eclectic "Like Fire," the beautiful ballad "Save Me," and the ingratiating melodies of "Somebody Who Loves You" are just as likely to strike a chord with listeners as the better-known cuts. While Glyn Johns deserves credit for bringing Joan Armatrading's songs into a more flattering setting -- it's not coincidental that the record feels like a polished version of The Who by Numbers -- his real stroke of genius was letting the artist flower to her full potential. For many, this album remains the high point in her catalog.