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music and memories
The Ultimate Jackie DeShannon
A conversation between Peter Lerner and William George

Ultimate

PL What an odd album, Bill. Put out by EMI in the UK with no perceptible promotion. The packaging is lazy and the liner notes sort of adequate. The track selection is very strange – some hits, some obscurities, very few DeShannon compositions; enormous contrast of styles bumped up against each other without much regard for the listener. But thanks EMI for putting out a lot of tracks on a CD which we haven’t heard in such good sound for a long time. A few surprises, lots of fun.
WG Peter, after living with this CD for a while, what I come away with is a collection of recordings that feature Jackie the Interpreter. Most of these songs are covers, and in most cases, drastically different from the original or familiar versions. We generally think of Jackie as a singer-songwriter, and we often forget that she was also a verstatile song stylist. Like her peers Dusty Springfield, Bettye LaVette and Emmylou Harris, Jackie has a way of turning every song she sings into Hers. This collection really brings that side of Jackie to the forefront. So while the song selection is eclectic (some might say schitzophrenic) it does prove how versatile a singer Jackie is. Pop, rock, R&B, soul, folk, gospel - Jackie can do it all!

Don’t let the sun catch you crying
PL
  Interesting track to start the album with! Jackie in her Ray Charles mode, moody and smouldering, with lots of power in her voice. Us UK-dwellers associate this song title with Gerry and the Pacemakers, but that was a different song entirely. This song was written by Joe Greene. It’s bluesy, needs to be heard in a little bar at
2am.
WG That's funny, I always thought they were the same song. I guess I'll have to go listen to the Pacemakers' version! Anyway, Jackie gives this song her all. Maybe too much. I hear Brother Ray, and also Dinah Washington in Jackie's delivery. Not one of my favorite tracks, but it's hard to argue with Jackie's passionate vocals.

It’s all in the game
PL
  Tommy Edwards’ hit done by Jackie in a very signature-60s style, sort of Petula Clark. Love the way she picks up words like “kiss”, “caress” and “fingertips”. Sweet and magical. Could there be a greater contrast between this and the previous track?
WG This has always been one of my favorite "overlooked" recordings. There have been so many versions of this song, and Jackie's is my favorite. The arrangement is very "up" and she really nails the vocal. I especially like the subtle double-tracked parts. This should have been a hit.

Love will find a way
PL
The Top 40 follow up to “Put a little love...” City soul, lovely relaxed bass line, Jackie completely in control of her craft. Again a completely different style of singing; that’s what we like about Jackie, never predictable. Superb arrangement too.
WG If you're feeling down, just put this song on the stereo and your spirits will lift instantly. Great vocals, horn charts, production - its got everything.

Lay baby lay
PL
  Jackie has sung Dylan at various times during her career, never better than this. Shimmering husky vocals. “Lay across my big brass bed”. Yes please. Entirely convincing. And great to find this rare Capitol track on CD.
WG I think my favorite of Jackie's Dylan covers is "Don't Think Twice" but this one is nice too. Sultry, intimate vocal and laid-back groove. Jackie dips into her lower range, which we don't get to hear very often. Now if only the entire Capitol album would find its way onto CD!

Sunshine of your love
PL
  When I first saw this on an album sleeve I listened with trepidation. A girl singing The Cream? Well it’s OK, completely wild in fact, unrestrained and exciting. Jackie could have been Janis Joplin, glad she wasn’t though. This sounds like a jam recorded on a single take. But it’s crafty, it builds beautifully. Wow.
WG I have to admit, when I first heard this track, I'd never heard the original, so I didn't have anything to compare it to. Ragged and immediate, the band tears this apart. Jackie re-invents the song as an R&B anthem.

I can make it with you
PL
  I love Chip Taylor’s songs and this is a great one. Power ballad, think contemporary Gene Pitney or the Walker Brothers. Jackie sounds like she’s really enjoying tackling this one, loads of emotion. Classic, really.
WG One of Jackie's best vocals. Again, Jackie re-invents this folk-rock gem into an angst-ridden pop powerhouse. Why this isn't still being played on the radio I have no idea.

Summertime
PL
  Big production here. Jackie takes this song by the scruff of the neck, helped by the full works of a big accompaniment and backing singers. Strong but
vulnerable.
How does she do it? More please!
WG This is Jackie in her blues belter mode. There's some pretty groovy piano playing underneath, and inventive string arrangements. But has anyone else ever noticed her lisp on this track?

When you walk in the room
PL
  Still gives me a thrill. Hairs standing up on the back of neck, etc.
WG A classic. Possibly the best rock song of all time. Still love the maracas. 'Nuff said.

You don’t have to say you love me
PL
   Originally an Italian song I think, and Jackie’s version is much more conscious of the Italian beginnings than Dusty Springfield may have been. Who recorded it first? Dunno. Is Jackie’s version good? Yes, in a Eurovision sort of way (US readers please email me for an explanation!)
WG I've always loved this song (has there ever been a bad version?) Jackie sings it like she's pulling it from her gut. And yes, it is an Italian song, by film composer Pino Donaggio.

Needles and pins
PL
  What quality! Jack Nitzsche deserves a gold medal for the arrangement, Jackie’s vocals so so wonderful, hurt, revengeful, brave, once again vulnerable. Mystery to me why this didn’t top the charts. Ahead of its time? Certainly. Still listenable 40 years on? Definitely!
WG Another classic. If Jackie had never recorded anything but this and "When You Walk" her place in rock history would be secure. And was she actually the co-writer with Jack Nitzsche? More on that in the near future...

Hold your head high
PL
  Co-written with Randy Newman, Jackie in Gene Pitney mode again. Sounds very
Brill Building to me. Throbbing, tense, climactic.
WG Dramatic, but this song has never quite done it for me. Jackie is a little bit swallowed up by the arrangement, which should be better.

He’s got the whole world in his hands
PL
  Bobby Darin used to do stuff like this too. Sorry Bill I don’t like it. Probably because I have bad memories of the original version by some child star here in the
UK . Pass, next one please. (Sorry Jackie, sounds like you’re having fun, but…..)
WG I agree. I used to love this song when was a kid I think, but I'm not a kid anymore. Jackie's worst recording, in my opinion. And the fake "live" conceit is annoying. I usually hit the skip button on this one.

Will you love me tomorrow
PL
  Nothing like Carole King or the Shirelles versions. Jackie here is a sweet young girl hoping not to be wronged. Innocence and unwordliness. Lovely.
WG Did The Supremes ever record a Carole King song? If not, this is what it might have sounded like. Bright Motown-style arrangment with a go-go beat. She sounds pretty sure he'll still love her tomorrow. I hope she wasn't disappointed.

Call me
PL
Sophisticated 60s finger-snapping style. Nothing like Chris Montez or indeed Petula Clark, Jackie’s own take is sort of Las Vegas via
Los Angeles. Tight arrangement. Classy.
WG This song has always sounded a little Muzaky to me. Kind of like album filler. Nothing outstanding to my ears.

Are you ready for this
PL
  Jackie sings Diana Ross; Jackie is Diana Ross! Well, Bill, it’s a DeShannon composition and I was thinking
Holland and Dozier. The enjoyment and fun shines out, bet Jackie had a dance routine worked out for this one. Can I say fab?
WG Fab is an appropriate word. Another Supremes homage, with great tempo changes and muscular backing vocals. And there's that go-go beat again...

Music man
PL
  A bit more of the Motown but more chunky. Nice song too. Jackie really lives the lyric. Tight arrangement. One for the dancefloors of
Wigan (OK OK another British reference point, sorry…..)
WG Here's another one I've always found treacly. I'm not sure what it reminds me of, but its not Motown. Silly lyrics too.

A proper girl
PL
Quelle contrast! Sad, reflective and thoroughly haunting ditty. Beautifully arranged. Minor key. More vulnerability, what has a proper girl to do? Answers on a postcard……… This is a real experience.
WG Rather dated lyrics and arrangement, but Jackie's performance is the attraction here. She delivers the text like an actress. She even gets a little operatic on the high notes. Like watching a great old black and white movie.

You’ve really got a hold on me
PL
  Same band, same sound as “Sunshine” above. A bit of a mess actually, but enjoyable listening. Is that Barry White there in the background? And that piano riff, Dr John? May be a mess but a lovable one.
WG The backup singers overpower Jackie on this one, and it sounds like it was recorded in one take. Very communal. But I love it anyway; it has charm to spare.

Lonely girl
PL
  Back to the early 60s with a thump. Jackie’s own composition. Trying earnestly with the vocal. The song is all over the place but it has that commercial
Liberty label sound of the day. Trouble is, Jackie, you sound far too sexy for us to believe that you’re lonely. Oh well.
WG Not one of Jackie's best songs or vocal performances. Bit of a mess. Is it rock, R&B, pop? Bits of Buddy Holly, Ray Charles and doo-wop all meshed together. And are those chihuahuas singing backup?

Music and memories
PL
  One of Jackie’s lesser known performances. Sounds as if it comes from a movie soundtrack. It doesn’t. Good commercial mid 60s pop. Somehow the whole thing is a bit more subdued than it ought to be. Needs a bit more zip.
WG I often skip over this lightweight pop ditty. That early 60s liberty sound updated to meet the Bacharach era. Not much to grab onto.

Crystal clear???
PL
  No it isn’t. It’s “Put a little love in your heart”. Says “Crystal clear” on the liner. Says “Crystal clear” on Windows Media Player as I listen here at my computer. Oh well. I could write much about PALLIYH and already have. Yes, nice, but I would have liked “Crystal clear”. For a change.
WG Must have been last-minute switch. Some suit said they needed to include Jackie's biggest hit. Well, its a great song, but its been on nearly every one of Jackie's CD compilations. Would have been nice to hear Crystal Clear. Very soon...

Down by the riverside
PL
  From the Capitol album “Songs”. Randy Edelman on piano. I think. Rockin’ arrangement, almost Jerry Lee Lewis. Totally wild. Entertaining. Love the key change. Loadsa fun.
WG I dare anyone to listen to this by themselves and not sing and dance around the room with abandon! Loads of energy and a more prominent electric guitar than we normally got from Jackie during this period. Like hippies at a Southern Baptist Revival. Now excuse me while I take a dance break...

Keep me warm
PL
  Precursor of the Atlantic “Jackie” album. Soulful in that early 70s reflective way. Lovely, loving, lovable. Jackie by that fireside in the snow, happy and contented.
WG Soulful, gentle and romantic. Lovely. You said it all Peter. It's a quiet gem.

What the world needs now is love
PL
  I bought this back in 65 when it came out, still love it now. Jackie sings Bacharach like no-one else. An A+ performance.
WG A classic pop performance, well-known by all. Nice ending to an eclectic collection.

The Ultimate Jackie DeShannon can be found on Amazon
UK [Or by  using the link to Amazon.com from the website! – AR]  and other music websites and also, hopefully, from your local good CD store.




Please click below for the index page for this issue.

Cover Pic v18


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