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This issue’s column is devoted to the third in a series of JDSAS archive compilations we call Hits of the Genius: The Songs of Jackie DeShannon. Each collection features songs written by Jackie and recorded by other artists. Volume 3: POP! is a collection of tracks, mostly recorded in the 60s, by pop, rock and R&B acts. Many of the tunes were never recorded commercially by Jackie. Each volume can be ordered exclusively from the JDSAS for $15/£10, from the JDSAS addresses on page one. As usual, all proceeds go toward the cost of printing and mailing this newsletter.

WG: Things start off with Look What You Started by Gloria Jones. Nice mid-tempo tune in Jackie’s Philly soul style; it would have fit perfectly on her Put A Little Love In Your Heart LP. Strong song and good vocal performance and arrangement. Too bad the sound is muffled. 7 points.
PL: I think this is the Gloria Jones who was the girlfriend of Marc Bolan (does that mean anything to you in the States?). Yes, this is one of those Minit label soul tracks, very 69/70, smooth sound. Nice and silky. I'll say 7 too.
(* of course, Marc Bolan of T. Rex fame!)

WG: Here's a rarity: Each Time by The Bon Bons. Great girl-group version, and they change up the chorus a little. But they sound so bratty I can understand why their guy left them! 8 points.
PL: Some say these are the Shangri-las, and yes, bratty is the only word. One of my favourite DeShannon songs, this, and it motors along with some nice brass in the background. I like it. 8 points, we're still agreeing.
(I still prefer the Searchers version! AR)

WG: Another rarity, it's Dick Lory (aka Dick Glasser, Liberty Records producer) singing There's Gonna Be A Fight. This version works even better than Jackie’s demo. A teenage song to be sure, but still a great horn-laden arrangement with strong clear vocals. This is how the song was meant to be recorded. 8 points.
PL: This is a bit of a silly song, really. I agree it's a good arrangement, I just wish the words were a bit better. A good listen, but never a hit. 6 points from me.

WG: Wow! This one blows me away. It's Helen Shapiro with Woe Is Me. She comes on strong like Jackie, urgently growling her way through the song. Killer fuzz guitar solo too. And all in less than 2 minutes! I'd love to hear Jackie’s own version. 9 points.
PL: Recorded by Britain’s answer to Brenda Lee, at the same session where Helen cut the original of “It's my party”. One of Jackie’s best rockin’ songs in a really driving performance by young Helen. As you say, Wow. 8 points from me.

WG: Here’s another one Jackie never recorded. Burn On Love by The Righteous Brothers. Call and response chorus with a non-stop beat. The sax break is nice. Another short one, but it says all it needs to. I dare you to keep your feet still while listening to this one. 8 points.
PL: Another wow! All action, and those get up and grab you Righteous harmonies. Great song. Should have topped the charts. Almost perfection. 9 points.

WG: You’ll recognize this one. Jackie's biggest hit, Put A Little Love In Your Heart, here performed by Dionne Warwick. Really good soul version, recorded at American Studios in Memphis. One of the strongest vocals I’ve heard from Dionne. Do I understand correctly this wasn’t released at the time of its recording? That was a mistake. 7 points.

PL: Yes, this stayed in the can, more’s the pity. I prefer to hear Dionne on those slinky Bacharach ballads, but on this one Dionne is saying, anything Aretha can do, I can do too. Lots of effort, a strident 7 pointer.

WG: Another unknown song, Fallen Idol by Johnny Rivers. Good teen-pop song. Could’ve been a hit for Bobby Vee or Ricky Nelson. 7 points.
PL: Johnny Rivers before his run of hits. Ricky Nelson is the influence here. The song runs out of ideas a bit, but it’s listenable early 60s pop. 6 points from me.

WG: Here’s Samantha Jones with another obscure tune, Just For Him. Her kitteny voice purrs through the midtempo groove. Can you tell me anything about this one Peter? 7 points.
PL: Samantha was one of the legendary Vernons Girls from Liverpool, back-up singers to every British and lots of visiting American stars. A lovely girl, as you can tell from the voice. This was one of the first singles released in the UK on United Artists. Think British Lesley Gore so far as the song is concerned. Great listening. Lovely Jackie chord changes at the end, please note! 8 points cos I love Liverpool.

WG: Here’s a familiar song, but with a twist. Brian Hyland singing He Don't Understand You Like I Do. This is my favorite version of this song, including Jackie’s own version. Maybe it just works better from a man’s perspective. 8 points.
PL: Brian Hyland was always one of my faves. I saw him on tour here a couple of years ago, and he was still very good. A man who knows how to sing a teen ballad, a gentle arrangement. My copy comes in a picture sleeve. Sadly unreleased in the UK, till now that is, Bill! 8 points from me, too.

WG: Time for another rocker: Franklin Street by Dora Hall. The track rocks, but Dora’s voice is a little bland. Nice Chuck Berry-style guitar solo. 6 points.
PL: Dora was, I believe, the wife of a rich gentleman who sponsored all her recordings. Not in her first flush of youth, either. Great Chuck Berry style arrangement as you say, and great choice of song, too. I think she might have put a little more effort into the singing, to match the all-happening backing. 6 points for (some) effort.

WG: Rocking even harder is Child with Don’t Turn Your Back On Me. They really “get” this tune. Great version from the vocals to the rolling thunder drums. One of my favorites of Jackie’s songs. 9 points.
PL: Album track from UK band who had a chart hit with “When you walk in the room.” This is very satisfactory and would have charted itself 10 years previously. A good 7 points, just a little stolid for my ears.

WG: Now here’s a treat: Kelly Garrett with You Step Into My World. I’d love to hear Jackie’s own version. Sounds like mid-60s soul/pop to me. Beautiful crystal vocals and swirling, string-laden anthemic arrangment. Should have been a smash. 9 points.
PL: This is soooo smooth and Kelly can really sing. Fascinating words if you listen. Climactic chorus and smashing production. What a songwriter Jackie is, to be sure. Cream of the crop so far, can I give 9.5 points?

WG: The Concords present Should I Cry as manic doo-wop. And it works better than Jackie’s version. I imagine this is what Jackie had in mind when she wrote the tune. 8 points.
PL: Wild falsetto, bass bom-bom-boms. Loads of fun, and what a performance. Guaranteed to raise a smile - and it's all about crying. Only in America, and only before 1963. And 9 points for originality. God, I'm generous.

WG: Here’s yet another song that works better in the cover version. It’s Thurston Harris singing Dancing Silhouettes, in an R&B arrangment. Smoother than Jackie’s version, everything falls into place. 8 points.
PL: Thurston Harris, a hitmaker of the 50s, with one of those deeply hurt R&B voices of the era - just the man to be paranoid about those silhouettes. Love the way he makes those middle bars his own. Would have been a hit if it had come out in 1960. Still fab now. Another 9-er I'm afraid.

The Songs of Jackie DeShannon

An occasional series of articles reviewing Jackie's work as a songwriter; and looking at the many hundreds of recordings that have been made of her songs.


WG: This is another one of my favorites. The Ovations performing Pure Natural Love. What I wouldn’t give to hear Jackie sing this one. Great melody and smooth Philly-soul arrangment. I know of two other versions of this song, but this is my favorite. Sing along! 10 points.
PL: I think the only Jackie song to appear on the Chess label out of Chicago - prove me wrong someone! Yes it’s a smoothie for late night in that disco. Jackie’s version would be a gas. They don't put a foot wrong. 8 points.

WG: This one is really different. It’s Marilyn Maye singing I Need You. While I can hear Jackie in my mind singing this in her soul style, it doesn’t sound to me like something she’d write. Ms. Maye has a clear, pleasant voice, but isn't really soulful enough to do justice to the funky musical track. 7 points.
PL: An obscurity this, plucked from an album. I believe Ms. Maye was a show singer, and I’m not sure she's comfortable with the soul groove here. Too much happening for her to cope with, and it drags on a little too long. 6 points.

WG: Here’s Jackie’s co-writer Jimmy Holiday with Yesterday Died, which sounds like it could have been an outtake from the Put A Little Love In Your Heart sessions. Nice soulful ballad with horns and strings and a strong vocal performance. 7 points.
PL: I do believe, Bill, that Jackie produced this one, as well. It’s right up my street, lots of tension in the orchestration, good singing, a great hook to the song, and hits you right here. Another from the Minit label, and it’s a good one. 8.5 from me.

WG: Another obscure song, it’s Billy Ford and My Girl. This has that “Liberty sound” with swirling strings, pounding drums and prominent backing vocals. The song is rather average, but given a nice treatment. 6 points.
PL: It may have the Liberty sound, Bill, but I’m pretty sure it’s on Reprise. L.A. though, and probably the same studio musicians, wouldn’t you think? Strings and key changes a la Drifters of that era. It gets a little lost, but a good performance. I'd have left the backing singers out of it. I agree on 6.

WG: Here’s another nice one. Barbara Lewis with Stop That Girl. It’s a smooth 60's girl singer record in the Bacharach mode. I can’t quite hear Jackie singing this. 7 points.
PL: One of those treasured few songs written by DeShannon and Jimmy Page, you wouldn’t imagine he’d end up playing heavy metal after co-writing a beauty like this. Barbara has a peach of a voice, and this is a fascinating song. Yes, I think they had been listening to Bacharach, but why not? I love this one. 9 from me. Great taste, Jackie.

WG: This one sounds like it was written for Ricky Nelson. Instead we get Pat Carter singing Sweet Young Girl. Pleasant teenage pop ditty that shuffles along and includes Jackie’s trademark chord changes. 7 points.
PL: This one is on Liberty. Pleasant and bell-like sound. Very early 60s. To my ears the arrangement sounds a little unfinished. Inoffensive.But listen out for the scary falestto at the end. 6 points.

WG: Yet another one of which I’d love to hear Jackie’s demo. I’m Breaking the Law by Gerri Diamond. Gerri has a generically pleasant voice, but this would have really benefited from a performance by a group like the Crystals. It cries out for a little rougher treatment. 7 points.
PL: Oh Bill. This is such a gem. One of those teen ballads that exist in their tens and dozens on Jackie’s demos, but this one lives in Gerri’s hands. A sweet but soulful voice, perfectly controlling a song which drags you inside it. 10 points from me. Play it again!

WG: Dripping with soul, it’s The Raelettes with Try A Little Kindness. This sounds to me like Jackie could have included it on her Memphis album. Great soul ballad sounds like it was tailor-made for the Raelettes. Scratchy record sound, but the passion of the performance more than makes up for the poor sound quality. 9 points.
PL: Yes it’s lovely, subdued but soulful. It smoulders, and those Raelettes can certainly sing it for Uncle Ray. Jackie, you do write some great music. 8 points.

WG: What would any JDS compilation be without When You Walk in the Room? This time performed by Sandy Edmonds. Nice psychedelic sitar intro mixes with English beat-girl arrangement. Ms. Edmonds sounds a bit like Lulu. Any info on her Peter? Better than average version. 8 points.
PL: No, she’s a mystery to me. She’s an energetic lady, I can imagine her stomping around in her white boots in those heady late 60s. Yes, it’s nice. I find the sitar very strange, but certainly 7 points for innovation.

WG: Now for something a little different. It’s Wrecking Crew guitarist Billy Strange with an instrumental version of Come and Stay With Me. Tremolo guitar and electric harpsichord anchor this baroque-surf-pop rendition. 6 points.
PL: You could imagine this was Duane Eddy. The song turns itself nicely into an instrumental; more than elevator music, this. Perhaps the theme for a daytime TV show. Pleasant listening. 6 points.

WG: Now it’s Johnny Rivers again, with I’ve Just Got To Get Away. This is another one that sounds like it was written with Ricky Nelson in mind. Johnny’s vocals are a bit off-key but the melody is strong and the post-rockabilly arrangement is nice. 7 points.
PL: Dum de dum dum dum doo de dum. Yes, he does stray out of tune a little; surprised Capitol let that pass. It’s pretty OK though as a slice of pre-British invasion teen pop. 6 points.

WG: Another rarity. It’s The Ronettes singing I’m Gonna Quit While I'm Ahead. The arrangement is reminiscent of “Breakaway”, with Ronnie Spector’s voice front and center with her trademark growl. The backing vocals doot-doot and the strings saw away into the heavens. 8 points.
PL: Some say that Jackie didn’t write this. Others say she did. Funny Bill, I can hear the Detroit Cobras singing this, they who did great versions of Jackie’s “He Did It” and “Breakaway.” Good performance and arrangement. Who can tell us the truth about the writing? 7 points from Peter.

WG: The collection closes with a song written for the Everly Brothers, Baby Bye-O. The Everlys couldn’t make it through the song, but Phil Everly later produced it for Bernie Schwartz. Bernie sounds very much like the third Everly, and his recording is full of charm. 9 points.
PL: Somewhere there will be a complete take of the Everlys version, which will be worth hearing. Meanwhile, yes, this is very Everly-like; in fact you can hear brother Phil on the backing voices. Now who can tell me why, when this was released in the UK, the singer’s name was given as Bernie Balentine? Life is full of mysteries. 7 points

Also included as bonus tracks are two short radio interviews with Jackie DeShannon circa 1968.

(This CD can be ordered for $15 (or £10) from the JDSAS website or by sending a check to the JDSAS addresses.)

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Cover Pic v17


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