This is another album that I've had a while. It's been kicking around since the late 1980s I think. I had quite a few Jackie DeShannon albums and I was pressed for space and I thought … I've got a couple of compilations in my collection so I can rationalise a few LPs and stick them into a "maybe" pile… where they sat for quite sometime.
Time, age and the realisation that Jackie probably is my favourite female singer-songwriter has caused me to reconsider that decision and I started to re-listen to those albums over the last few years.
Commenting on this album is perhaps a fait accompli as I have heard it (albeit many moons ago) and I do like Jackie DeShannon but I'm in a Jackie DeShannon mood and I have so little of her product (perhaps five or so albums all up).
Jackie was born Sharon Lee Meyers in Hazel, KY on August 21, 1944 (some sources say (born August 21, 1941). Go to the links and read any of her bio's … they make for interesting reading … she started in the late 50s, was in California in it's heyday the 60s, dated Elvis (well, she didn't really but every article says she did – see trivia section), hung out with The Everly Brothers and Rick Nelson, toured with The Beatles, worked with Jack Nitzsche Burt Bacharach and Hal David, starred in films, wrote music, appeared on TV shows of the day …
She isn't as well know as Carole King or Joni Mitchell
But, she, perhaps, should be more well known: Allmusic introduces its entry on her with, "Singer and songwriter Jackie DeShannon has quite a musical legacy. Her early singles crafted doo wop to intelligent lyrics. She toured with the Beatles in 1964 and more than held her own. She wrote songs with Randy Newman and Jimmy Page. She sang with Van Morrison. She was among the first artists to realize that folk and pop could work together and was a behind-the-scenes innovator in the creation of folk-rock. And she did it all with style and grace, singing with a sexy, husky voice full of energetic passion and writing songs that gracefully belied the craft behind them. By all accounts she should be a household name instead of just a respected rock & roll footnote'.
Her own website is overly modest I think: "Singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon is the soulful voice behind two enduring 1960’s anthems — Burt Bacharach & Hal David's "What The World Needs Now Is Love" and DeShannon's own "Put A Little Love In Your Heart." Beyond those standards is an artist who has created a body of work covering a diverse range of genres including rock, folk, R&B, country, gospel, reggae and jazz. Her songs have been performed by Brenda Lee, The Byrds, Marianne Faithfull, Al Green, Annie Lennox, The Searchers, Pam Tillis, The Carpenters, Kim Carnes, The Temptations, Rick Nelson, Cher, Van Morrison, Ella Fitzgerald, Dolly Parton, Irma Thomas, Bruce Springsteen and dozens more".
This chick really was a trailblazer and was cutting edge throughout the 60s and into the 70s writing many great tracks, recording many other great tracks but never having that one gigantic album or hit for herself.
Two Top 10 singles and no albums that even made the Top 40.
Everything, normally, is about the charts. That's where the money is and the ticket to fame.
But there are exceptions.
The singers, the musicians, the music archaeologists, the keen listeners and the kids who spend a lot of time in op shops all know real gold when they hear it.
And, so do the punters, they just have to be given access to it.
In truth, even the most casual music listener knows something by Jackie DeShannon you just have to dig a little to realise it.
In the early 70s Jackie was on a roll … she had had hit with "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" ( #4 1969) and "Love Will Find A Way" (#40 1969) and had put out some fine, though, low selling introspective singer-songwriter-ish introspective country soul and pop albums.
This album is more of the same though it is a little bit more rustic. DeShannon has a good mix of covers and originals (and a couple of songs that, I assume, are originals by others) which all emphasise a pastoral attitude with quite a few gospel overtones. I think Jackie was tapping into her Kentucky roots. Co-produced by DeShannon, Eric Malamud, and John Palladino everything is kept quite low key but still soulful, much like what Delaney & Bonnie were doing at the time. One track 'Show Me' was produced by Memphian Chips Moman, (apparently from an earlier abandoned session) and in Chips Moman style it's quite produced but it still fit's in well.
This country soul sound fit hand in hand with the country rock sound emerging at the time and there were many crossovers. The only surprise is that neither the album or any of the tracks got any airplay.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Keep Me Warm – (Johnny Christopher) – Johnny Christopher is a professional songwriter (he co-wrote "Always on My Mind" with Mark James, for Elvis)
- Lay, Baby, Lay – (Bob Dylan) – The great Dylan song with the "Lady" changed to "Baby". A beautiful version of the song.
- West Virginia Mine – (Jackie DeShannon) – quite vivid and potent for a pop song.
- Show Me – (Johnny Christopher) – I love this track. The carnival bounce to it and delicate lyric work well and remind me a little if Nilsson.
- Down By The Riverside – (traditional arranged by Randy Edelman) – a rocking version of the old spiritual.
- International – (Benny Gallagher – G. Lyle) – a cover from the first McGuinness Flint album from 1970. A nice gospel feel.
- Sunny Days – (Randy Edelman) – a cover from Edelman's 1971 self titled debut album. Nice.
- Salinas – (Jackie DeShannon) – quite like a daydream.
- Bad Water – (Jackie DeShannon) – Another rocker and quite good.
- Ease Your Pain – (Hoyt Axton) – a cover of country singe Axton's 1971 single. A great tune. Another in the long line of "hip" faith songs of the early 70s. Understanding, love and faith will lighten your burden and ease your pain … and by extension get you through the troubling times that were the early 1970s.
Quite relaxing and perfect for a sunny autumn day … I'm keeping it.
Nothing … surprisingly.
Lay, Baby, Lay
West Virginia Mine
Is this not perfect?
Here cover of Elvis' "Trouble"
- If the truth be know, and I put aside all the psuedo intellectual wankery in relation to music and songwriting the real reason I got hooked on Jackie way back in the 80s, when I was a teenager, was because she was a total fox. I went into Kent records (I think) in Brisbane and there was an album or book with a picture of her with platinum blonde hair, in a bob, and she was wearing a 60s skirt … that image and her slightly husky voice on the record grooves was worth ten Cyndi Laupers.
- Apparently she was one of the singing voices on the " Don't Bug the Mosquitoes" (1965) episode of Gilligan's Island. I assume she was a voice for one of The Honeybees. Cool! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqp_Si4a10E
- Jackie and Elvis. http://www.elvis.com.au/presley/interview_jackie_deshannon.shtml