Keeping up with current sounds is normal for a musician.
Where I have a problem with it is if the act have totally changed their sound for the sake of jumping on a trend or sound which wasn't there before.
At best, the new sound should just add a veneer to the musicians musical personality.
And, this is how we get to Jackie DeShannon in 1977.
She had been singing professionally since 1957. Her peak of popularity was in the 60s and ealy 70s. Through out that period she was remarkably consistent in musical personality , the only big shift in her musical personality (singer and songwriter) came in the late 60s where she became more of introspective (as was the trend). But even with that introspection Jackie never lost sight of pop melody.
In 1977 and without any substantial hits since 1969 she tried to keep on tops of the sounds that were popular. He previous album "New Arrangements" (1975) had already done that with it's MOR sound.
Here, backed by session men, she embraced the 70s California sound – MOR balladry, the mellower aspects of the singer/songwriter, studio rock mixed with faux country rock pop.
To be fair, though, she was ahead of the sound anyway. Her Laurel Canyon sound recordings anticipated a lot of this. Laurel Canyon in leafy semi-rural Los Angeles was more an attitude than a sound though the music did lend itself to singer-songriter, introspection, folky and country overtones.
From there it wasn't a big musical leap to the MOR soft rock, and country inflections of the California sound in the mid to late 70s.
This is slick stuff.
And it produced many hits.
Hits by The Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, The Doobie Brothers, Seals & Crofts, Linda Ronstadt , Steely Dan, Loggins & Messina, Poco, Bread, the later Fleetwood Mac.
Jackie's strengths have always been her sense of pop (which she continuously applies in her songwriting), her ear for a cover that suits her and her voice.
And that saves this album and, perhaps, gives it a distinction from much of the other similar music at the time. Having said that there are no self penned killer tunes and Jackie's voice is a little more wounded, emotional, aid back, and wavery than usual. I prefer it hen it is a little more bossy or unequivocal.
The album is very mid-70s Anne Murray at times which is not unusual as producer Jim Ed Norman produced Murray's hit albums at the time. Jim Ed Norman played with and then worked with much of the country rock and California sound acts of the 70s.
Everything was in place, but … the album failed to re-ignite her career.
Perhaps it is a little sad knowing that within a year a group of younger acts like The Go Gos, Rachel Sweet were taking the sprit and sound of her 60s pop and changing the music scene.
Cest la vie.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Don't Let The Flame Burn Out – (Jackie DeShannon) – a great example of a pop sensibility overlaid on the sound of the day. Ultimately it is slight but it is undeniably catchy.
- I Just Can't Say No To You – (Parker McGee, Steve Gibson) – released as a single by writer Parker McGee in 1976. Another catchy one with pop country overtones.
Just To Feel This Love From You – (Dean MacDougall, Jackie DeShannon) – a
MORpower ballad with country overtones.
- I Don't Think I Can Wait – (Jackie DeShannon) – slick, with tinkly keyboards and angelic female backing voices.
- To Love Somebody – (B. Gibb, R. Gibb) – The song was the second single released by the Bee Gees from their international debut album, Bee Gees 1st, in 1967. It reached #17 in the US and #41 in the UK. This is a full bodied version of the song but it is done well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Love_Somebody_(song)
You're The Only Dancer – (Jackie DeShannon) – the album title tune though not the strongest song on the album. It is very
- Try To Win A Friend – (Larry Gatlin) – Country singer and songwriter Larry Gatlin released this on his album "The Pilgrim" (1973) though the first release may have been by country songstress Dottie West, also in 1973. AMOR country pop weepie.
- Dorothy – (Hugh Prestwood) – by Nashville songwriter Prestwood. The song was about what happened to Dorothy after she got back from Oz. At some point Prestwood sent the song out to producer Jim Ed Norman who gave it to Jackie. Judy Collins subsequently covered it on her #54 US album "Hard Times For Lovers" (1979) which gave the song more exposure. Too many stings and things here.
- Your Love Has Got A Hold On Me – (Dean MacDougall, Jackie DeShannon) – this is better. It is quite bouncy like a 60s song updated to the 70s.
- Tonight You're Doin' It Right – (Jackie DeShannon) – another catchy one.
Look, I love Jackie. This is very patchy but … I'm keeping it.
1977 Don't Let The Flame Burn Out #68, #20 US Adult Contemporary
1977 To Love Somebody #44 US Adult Contemporary
Don't Let The Flame Burn Out
I Just Can't Say No To You
Just To Feel This Love From You
I Don't Think I Can Wait
To Love Somebody
You're The Only Dancer
Try To Win A Friend
Your Love Has Got A Hold On Me
Tonight You're Doin' It Right