Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jackie De Shannon - Jackie DeShannon/In The Wind - Jackie DeShannon

Jackie De Shannon
Jackie DeShannon
Liberty LRP-3320

In The Wind
Jackie DeShannon
Imperial  LP-12296

You might notice that the songs on these two albums are largely identical.  I unfortunately didn't notice and once again got rooked by a major record label.  It's not the first time and probably won't be the last time.  I bought "In The Wind" many years ago, it was one of the very first Jackie DeShannon albums that I acquired.  The problem with having a lot of records though is that it is hard to remember what songs are on all of them.  A year or two ago, I was rummaging through the bins at the Pasadena City College Flea Market and I saw "Jackie De Shannon" which was her debut album.  I was quite taken by the cover and even though I remembered some of the songs from "In the Wind" I didn't hesitate to buy it.  I don't really regret it, the debut album's cover photo is awesome and it has more extensive liner notes, the notes on "In the Wind" have been edited out of the ones on the debut and are only half as long.  The debut album is all folk songs mostly from the commercial folk repertoire.  Both albums have 12 songs, "In The Wind" substitutes "Needles and Pins" and "Don't Turn Your Back On Me" for "Betsy From Pike" and "Sing Hallelujah."  "Needles and Pins" is a classic song, it should have been a hit for her and she wrote the passionate "Don't Turn Your Back On Me" but although they are great songs neither is a folk song and they disrupt the atmosphere and consistency of the "In The Wind" album compared to "Jackie De Shannon."  I really like her version of the 19th Century ballad "Betsy From Pike" and her singing on the gospel song "Sing Hallelujah" is excellent.  They are two of my favorite songs on the debut album, which is another reason why I don't mind having it.  I don't know the rationale for reissuing the debut album under another guise but I'm assuming that Imperial was trying to capitalize on Bob Dylan's growing fame or Peter, Paul and Mary's commercial success as well as trying to exploit the Searcher's success with their version of "Needles and Pins" in 1964.  Both albums feature three Dylan songs plus one that he popularized, "Baby Let Me Follow You Down."  My favorite of the four is her exuberant version of "Walkin' Down The Line."  Three songs associated with Peter, Paul and Mary also appear on the record.  "Puff (The Magic Dragon)" is not a good fit for her and she delivers a robust cover of "If I Had A Hammer" but there is nothing interesting about it.  The best of the three is her country flavored version of "500 Miles" which she sings with great feeling.  There is also a soulful vocal on "Oh Sweet Chariot" and her husky vocal on Bobby Darin's "Jailer Bring Me Water" is very effective.  That isn't really a folk song and neither is "Little Yellow Roses" which was written by the English actor Trevor Peacock, but both are arranged to sound like folk songs.  Considering her background in pop and her skill at songwriting, it is surprising to me that her debut album featured only folk style songs, none of which she wrote.  It is a tribute to her great skill as a vocalist and her versatility that the album is still completely convincing.  I like it better than any album Joan Baez ever made.  The instrumentation is mostly acoustic guitar and bass with occasional harmonica and percussion and DeShannon is tastefully supported by background singers throughout the album.  Both albums are really worthwhile, if you are a fan of DeShannon you ought to own at least one of them.  If I had to choose just one, I'd pick "Jackie DeShannon" because it has better song sequencing and I prefer the packaging.  Recommended for people who think that Tom Rush is a better folk singer than Pete Seeger.

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