Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
The enduring beauty of the Jones Girls’ church-meets-soulful Detroit harmonies belies the depth of their relatively small catalog. Though they recorded for various labels before and after their prolific run at Philadelphia International Records, sisters Brenda, Shirley, and Valorie Jones will always be remembered for their days in the City of Brotherly Love. The group had a unique style that Rolling Stone magazine raved was “a little bit of forties vocal jazz and a whole lotta Supremes,” and their self-titled 1979 debut stands as not only one of PIR’s best female albums, but one of the company’s best releases, period.
Issued as PIR was reaching the end of its prime, The Jones Girls skillfully balanced the traditional soul leanings and orchestrated disco synonymous with the label’s best sessions. The million-selling “You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else” was the winner, but not one of the remaining seven cuts comes off as filler. The single’s B-side, the lovely “Who Can I Run To?” found life in 1995 as a hit for Xscape, while the steppers’ favorite “This Feeling is Killing Me,” “We’re a Melody,” “Show Love Today,” and “Life Goes On,” put three distinct vocal personalities front and center. Each sister had her own flavor: Shirley, the primary lead singer, had a sassy, radio-friendly bite in her voice that was tempered by Brenda’s jazzy cool and Valorie’s pitch-perfect sweetness. With their successful debut, the Jones Girls became the only other female group at PIR aside from the Three Degrees to win the record buying public’s attention.
Sadly, Valorie and Brenda passed away in 2001 and 2017 respectively, leaving big sister Shirley (who scored her own R&B chart topper with “Do You Get Enough Love?” in 1986) to sustain the group’s legacy. She’s still as vibrant as ever, filling venues around the world with the sophisticated stylings she brought to life with her sisters. And decades later, the Jones Girls are still a melody.