When the first of Ace Records’ Jackie DeShannon retrospectives came out in 2009 chronicling all of her singles releases, I didn’t pick up on it immediately. By the time I did it was well into 2010, but I would have easily included it in my Best of 2009 as an archive release.
I already owned quite a bit of vinyl and most of her CD releases that have slowly become available during the digital age. I figured I had almost everything on it.
But when I finally picked up You Won’t Forget Me: The Complete Liberty Singles, Volume 1, it revealed not only an impressive and accurate chronology of her singles, but also B-sides and several cancelled releases all in mono as they had been originally released.
The set put things in perspective because even though I’ve been aware of DeShannon since I first was hooked by her version of Needles & Pins in 1963 and the follow-up, her own penned classic When You Walk In The Room, putting together her career at times has been confusing.
Ace’s second installment of the planned three-part series, Come And Get Me: The Complete Liberty and Imperial Singles, Volume 2 has recently been released and it is again a stellar issue.
The release shows off DeShannon’s prodigious skills as one of our greatest songwriters, singers, as well as an outstanding interpretive singer of other writers’ material, and to some extent pop icon. Although if you could somehow be an overlooked and under-appreciated icon, DeShannon fits the bill.
Despite huge global success with tunes such as Burt Bacharach’s What The World Needs Now Is Love and her own Put A Little Love in Your Heart, she is not that well-known to the general public. She is, however, an icon to musicians in the industry who either came up alongside her or followed her and are fully appreciative of her stature. That goes for her long-time fans as well.
One could conclude Deshannon was mishandled by Liberty, of which Imperial — the label she was eventually moved to — was a subsidiary in the 1960s, because of all the career shifts and changes in musical direction they made for her. But I love her take on it. She was willing to try anything. She fought for her own songs being placed on her albums. And no matter what the record company and producers threw at her, she always pulls it off.
The first volume covered 1960 with Teach Me to 1964 with two cancelled releases from ’64 and ’65. The second volume picks up in 1964 with Oh Boy! and I’m Lookin’ For Someone To Love, both tunes previously recorded by Buddy Holly, to take advantage of the Beatles phenomenon, and runs through the 1967 promo only I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do, all in mono.
In between, we get a plethora of gems, including a faster mix of When You Walk In The Room, the gospel traditional He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands, produced by Jack Nitzsche, the mega-hit What The World Needs Now Is Love, along with another Bacharach tune that was originally cancelled despite a beautiful performance, A Lifetime Of Loneliness, two writing collaborations with Randy Newman and the recordings she made in England with art school student and already established session player Jimmy Page on acoustic guitar, including Don’t Turn Your Back On Me, backed with the Nitzsche collaboration Be Good Baby.
Page also played on Marianne Faithfull’s version of Jackie’s Come And Stay With Me and Page and Deshannon wrote songs that were recorded by a number of British artists as well as American Barbara Lewis.
Also included is a track the Byrds play backup on, Splendour In The Grass, released in 1966. It first appeared as part of her rejected folk demos LP that also included Don’t Doubt Yourself Babe, which the Byrds included on their first album Mr. Tambourine Man.
DeShannon’s versatility is never more obvious than with producer Calvin Carter, assigned by Imperial, with the resulting Are You Ready For This? album, which includes a number of girl-group oriented tracks, including the Shirelles’ Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. The title track is a perfect early ’60s take on the girl-group phenomenom. I recall being completely floored by the DeShannon tune on first hearing it on vinyl a number of years back.
The disc, which has 26 tracks, is packed with vibrant, proficient pop music that shows off the many sides of DeShannon in the ’60s as well as being a well-researched history lesson of her early career. It’s all meticulously annotated in an essay by Peter Lerner, Mick Patrick and Tony Rounce.
There are few singer-songwriters in our culture that measure up to Jackie DeShannon. She’s a treasure and this release only enhances that.