Tuesday 26 November 2019

Jackie DeShannon: When She Walks In The Roon


 Album Reviews of: 
(2015, BGO RECORDS) 

When “Bette Davis Eyes” topped global charts in 1981 the one-time screen siren excitedly phoned singer Kim Carnes to express her thanks, whereas the credit really should have been directed at songwriter Jackie DeShannon. John Tobler’s liner-notes term her Rock’s first notable female singer-songwriter – which neatly overlooks Carole King, and Jackie’s occasional co-writer Sharon Sheeley (they wrote Brenda Lee’s hit “Dum Dum” together), but it’s close enough. Although she wrote “When You Walk In The Room” for the Searchers and “Come And Stay With Me” for Marianne Faithfull, ironically her own breakthrough hit came with the syrupy tuneful “What The World Needs Now Is Love” – a ‘Billboard’ no.7 in June 1965, from the tired old Bacharach-David duo, until her co-written “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” took her up to no.4 in July 1969.

On a 1964 ‘American Bandstand’ interview Dick Clark asks a mini-skirted Jackie which is most important to her, writing or performing, and she tells him ‘I started as a singer, and singing is my whole life. But I don’t know how I would choose because writing is so much a part of me. When it came right to the nitty-gritty, I take singing.’ Which is unfortunate. She has a great light and expressive voice, but great voices are not uncommon in Pop-Rock. Fine original songs are the real gold-dust. And if this two-CD package is padded out with too many covers – who really needs another “Puff The Magic Dragon” or Petula Clark’s cheery “Call Me”? there are four full LPs here – ‘In The Wind’ (1965), ‘Are You Ready For This?’ (1967), ‘New Image’ (1967) and ‘What The World Needs Now’ (1968) – forty-eight tracks, so even after a little judicious whittling it’s wonderful value whichever. Kentucky-born Jackie starts out long hair ablowing acoustic-Folkie with three Dylan songs (including rare Broadside “Walkin’ Down The Line”), some tasty twelve-string, and her own exquisite “Don’t Turn Your Back On Me” which is the best hit the Searchers never had. But the timbre of her high pure voice excels even on the mediocre later material drenched in Bacharach orchestration.

‘Variety is something that everyone thrives on’ she told ‘Melody Maker’. ‘I’m gospel at my roots, but then I fall into Folk, and then I’ll do “Don’t Think Twice”, and suddenly I’ll feel soul. I’ll do a gig that’s all acoustic, then one with heavy R-and-B content, then into very light, very mellow things. Laid back days can be good too’ (22 July 1972).

And her original songs are exquisite.


21 August 1944, ‘Jackie DeShannon’ is born as Sharon Lee Myers in Hazel, Kentucky

1956 – debut single as by ‘Sherry Lee’, “I’m Crazy Darling” c/w “Baby Honey”

1957 – single as by ‘Jackie Dee’, “I’ll Be True’ c/w “How Wrong I Was”

1958 – single as by ‘Jackie Dee’, “Buddy” c/w “Strolypso Dance”, later collected onto November 1980 LP ‘Imperial Rockabillies Vol.3’ (Liberty-United UAG 30312)

1958 – single as by ‘Jackie Shannon’, “Just Another Lie” c/w “Cajun Blues”

June 1961 – Brenda Lee’s version of Jackie DeShannon-Sharon Sheeley’s song “Dum Dun” (Brunswick 05854) reaches no.4 in the US, and no.22 in the UK

1961 – Brenda Lee cuts Sharon Sheeley-Jackie DeShannon’s “So Deep”. Jackie’s songs are notated as sheet-music by David Gates. Issued as ‘B’-side of January 1962 single ‘Break It To Me Gently’

1963 – The Crickets “Right Or Wrong” DeShannon-Sharon Sheeley’s song ‘A’-side (Liberty LIB10113)

April 1963 – Helen Shapiro single “Woe Is Me” (Columbia DB7026) by DeShannon-Sheeley

1963 – DeShannon-Sharon Sheeley’s song “You Won’t Forget Me’ on Bobby Vee’s LP ‘The Night Has A Thousand Eyes

November 1963 – Jackie DeShanon single “Till’ You Say You’ll Be Mine” c/w “When You Walk In The Room” (US Liberty 55645). The Searchers cover of “When You Walk In The Room” (Pye 7N 15694) is a no.3 UK hit and no.35 US hit. There are later versions by Paul Carrack in 1987 and ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog in 2004. Jackie’s original ‘When You Walk In The Room’ featured on 1970 compilation ‘More From The Vaults’ (Liberty LBS 83377)

1964 – original version of DeShannon-Sheeley’s “Breakaway” by Irma Thomas as ‘B’-side of hit ‘Wish Someone Would Care’, but later becomes a no.4 UK hit in its own right for Tracey Ullman in 1983

August 1964 – the Beatles second American tour, with support acts the Righteous Brothers, and Jackie DeShannon after her ‘Needles And Pins’ catches the ear of Brian Epstein

1964 – Darlene Paul ‘B’-side “A Little Bit Of Heaven” (Capitol CL 15344) by DeShannon-Sharon Sheeley. ‘A’-side is ‘Act Like Nothing Happened’

February 1965 – Marianne Faithfull gets a UK no.4 hit with Jackie’s “Come And Stay With Me” (Decca F12075)

1965 – Jackie DeShannon LP ‘In The Wind’ (Imperial mono 9296) with Jackies own ‘Don’t Turn Your Back On Me’, her arrangement of the Trad ‘Oh Sweet Chariot’, three by Bob Dylan (‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘Walkin’ Down The Line’ and ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’, plus Eric Von Schmidt’s ‘Baby, Let Me Follow You Down’ as featured on ‘Bob Dylan’ 1962 LP), Pete Seeger’s ‘If I Had A Hammer’, Bobby Darin’s ‘Jailer, Bring Me Water’, Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono’s ‘Needles And Pins’, Trevor Peacock’s ‘Little Yellow Roses’ (by the TV actor from ‘The Vicar Of Dibley’), Hedy West’s ‘Five Hundred Miles’ and Peter Paul And Mary’s hit ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’

June 1965 – Jackie DeShannon single “What The World Need Now Is Love” (US Imperial 66110) hits US ‘Billboard’ no.7

June 1965 – the Byrds debut LP ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ (UK CBS SBPG 62571) includes Jackie’s “Don’t Doubt Yourself, Babe”

November 1965 – The Fourmost LP ‘First And Fourmost’ (Parlophone PMC1259) leads off with Jackie DeShannon’s ‘Till You Say You’ll Be Mine’

December 1966 – Jackie visits London with husband Bud Dain. Married 29 January 1966, and annulled in 1967, she later dated young session guitarist Jimmy Page, and Bryan MacLean of Love

1966 – Jackie DeShannon LP ‘Are You Ready For This’ (Liberty LBY 3085) ‘Record Mirror’ says ‘she really is marvellous, this girl. One of the most expressive, near-jazz, voices in the business – a tremendously powerful influence on the industry… yet still virtually unheralded here’, ‘NME’ says ‘using several gimmicky effects, Jackie manages to make this a restless sounding LP, with plenty of rocking backing in the background.’ With Jackie’s own ‘Are You Ready For This’, ‘To Be Myself’, ‘Love Is Leading Me’ and ‘Find Me Love, plus Bacharach-David ‘Windows And Doors’, ‘So Long Johnny’ and ‘To Wait For Love’, plus ‘Call Me’ (Tony Hatch). ‘I Can Make It With You’ (Chip Taylor), ‘Music And Memories’ (Bert Keys, Charles Singleton), ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ (Goffin-King), ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ (Dusty Springfield’s hit)

1967 – movie ‘C’Mon, Let’s Live A Little’ (All-Star Pictures, Paramount), directed by David Butler, stars Bobby Vee and Jackie DeShannon (as Judy Grant)… and also Kim Carnes. Thirteen years later Jackie will co-write “Bette Davis Eyes” with Donna Weiss, a hit for that same Kim Carnes!

September 1967 – “Come On Down (From The Top Of That Hill)” c/w “Find Me Love” (Liberty 66224), both sides are Jackie’s own compositions

1967 – Jackie DeShannon LP ‘New Image’ (Imperial LP-9344), with Jackie’s own ‘Where Does The Sun Go?’ and ‘That’s The Name Of The Game’, plus ‘Come On Down (From The Top Of That Hill)’, ‘The Carnival Is Closed Today’, ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’, ‘A Sunday Kind Of Love’, ‘The Wishing Doll’, ‘Night And Day’, ‘I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do’, ‘Time’, ‘A Proper Girl’, ‘Poor Someone’

1968 – LP ‘Jackie DeShannon: Great Performances’ (Liberty LBS 83117E) a compilation including ‘When You Walk In The Room’, ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love’, ‘Needles And Pins’, ‘NME’ says ‘her talents are undeniably recognised Stateside and all she needs is a publicity boost and I’m sure she will make many new fans here’

1968 – Jackie DeShannon LP ‘What The World Need Now Is Love’ (Imperial LP 12404) with only ‘Where Does The Sun Go?’ by Jackie herself, plus Burt Bacharach-Hal David title song, ‘So Long Johnny’, ‘Windows And Doors’, ‘A Lifetime Of Loneliness’ and ‘To Wait For Love’, plus ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’, ‘It’s All In The Game’, ‘Changin’ My Mind’, Bob Crewe-Gary Knight’s ‘Everything Under The Sun’, ‘Little Yellow Roses’ and Petula Clark’s hit ‘Call Me’

1968 – LP ‘Lonely Girl’ by Jackie DeShannon (SLS 0039) compilation including ‘Needles And Pins’, ‘Take Me Away’, ‘Should I Cry’, ‘I Remember The Boy’

February 1969 – Jackie DeShannon LP ‘Me About You’ (Liberty 831486) with her own songs ‘Splendour In The Grass’ and ‘Nicole’ plus eleven others

1969 – “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” (US Imperial 66385) written by Jackie with her brother Randy Myers, with Jimmy Holiday. Her chart breakthrough, reaching no.4 on the US Hot Hundred. The song is later recorded by Annie Lennox with Al Green, the Dave Clark Five, Andy Williams, Cilla Black, Dolly Parton… and Leonard Nimoy

November 1969 – Jackie DeShannon LP ‘Put A Little Love In Your Heart’ (Liberty LBF 15238) with ‘I Can Make It With You’ a Chip Taylor song covered in US by Pozo Seco Singers and in UK by Rob And Dean Douglas (c/w ‘Phone Me’ Deram DM132)

December 1969 – Jackie DeShannon single “Love Will Find A Way” (Imperial 66419) reaches US ‘Billboard’ no.40

February 1970 – “What The World Needs Now” (Burt Bacharach-Hal David) sung in Robert Culp-Natalie Wood wife-swapping movie ‘Bob And Carol And Ted And Alice’

1971 – Jackie DeShannon produces six tracks, ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’, ‘Liverpool Lou’ and Jackie’s own ‘You Have No Choice’ (with three other tracks produced by Leon Russell) for the LP ‘Genesis’ by Delaney And Bonnie’ (GNP Crescendo GNPS2054), a cash-in collection of early material by the duo

1972 – Jackie’s single “Vanilla O’Lay” c/w “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” (Neil Young song) from LP ‘Jackie’ (Atlantic SD7231) with ‘Paradise’ (John Prine), ‘Would You Like To Learn To Dance’ (Steve Goodman), ‘I Wanna Roo You’ (Van Morrison) plus original songs ‘Laid Back Days’, ‘Peaceful In My Soul’ and ‘Anna Karina’. ‘Melody Maker’ says ‘on this Memphis-recorded set, she proves again what a distinctive voice she has, and how she can really drive a song along. It’s the nervous intensity of her vocals that gives songs a special flavour’

1974 – ‘Jackie DeShannon LP ‘Your Baby Is A Lady’ (Atlantic SD 7303), the title track written by Jackie with Donna Weiss, and ‘You’ve Changed’ by Jackie with Vini Poncia. Musicians include Steve Gadd (drums), Richard Tee (keyboards), Cornell Dupree and Hugh McCracken (guitar), with Cissy Houston, Judy Clay and Gwen Guthrie vocals

September 1975 – ‘New Arrangement’ (CBS), with single “Let The Sailors Dance” (Randy Edelman-DeShannon) c/w “Boat To Sail”, soft-rock, mid-tempo piano, with musicians Larry Knechtel (keyboards, John Kahn (bass), Ron Tutt (drums), Jesse Ed Davis, Michael Stewart, Mike Deasy, Waddy Wachtel (guitars) Joe Clayton (conga, cymbal) with guests Brian Wilson, Kenny Rankin, Buddy Emmons, Leland Sklar

1977 – ‘You’re The Only Dancer’ Jackie DeShannon LP (Amherst Records AMH 1010) with her own songs ‘Don’t Let The Flame Burn Out’, ‘I Don’t Think I Can Wait’, ‘You’re The Only Dancer’ and ‘Tonight You’re Doin’ It Right’ plus ‘Just To Feel This Love From You’ and ‘Your Love Has Got A Hold On Me’ (both with Dean MacDougall). Musicians include Randy Edelman, to whom Jackie was married 3 June 1976

1978 Van Morrison’s LP ‘Wavelength’ (Warner Bros) features his “Santa Fe/ Beautiful Obsession” co-written with Jackie DeShannon. Jackie adds guest-vocals to Van’s tracks ‘Warm Love’ and the title-song for ‘Hard Nose The Highway’ (1973)

May 1981 – Kim Carnes hits a UK no.10 with Jackie’s “Bette Davis Eyes” (EMI America EA121), but is no.1 for nine weeks on US ‘Billboard’ chart. She’d allegedly hawked the song around for seven years before placing it with Kim Carnes

17 June 2010 – inducted into the ‘Songwriters Hall Of Fame’. She also broadcasts as entertainments correspondent for Sirius XM Satellite Radio on the Beatles and related topics

Expanded version of review published in:
‘R2: ROCK ‘N’ REEL Vol.2 No.52’
(UK – July/August 2015)

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