Jackie DeShannon (CD reissue)

Jackie DeShannon

Collector's Choice, 2009


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Jackie DeShannon is best remembered today as the composer of Kim Carnes’ huge 1981 Grammy winning hit “Bette Davis Eyes,” which spent over two months at the top of the American singles charts and was ranked the number two single of the entire decade.

DeShannon has released numerous albums and singles over the course of her five decade career, including the top ten hits “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put A Little Love In Your Heart.” Her music quickly developed into slick, well produced pop, which fit her wonderful clear voice well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Her 1963 self-titled debut album has now been re-released by Collector’s Choice Music. It is very different from all the other albums in her vast catalogue as it finds her trying to capitalize on the folk revival movement of the early ‘60s. Her original intent was to issue an entire album of Bob Dylan covers, but instead she settled for three of his songs plus nine other traditional and contemporary folk tunes.

The best of the Dylan compositions is “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” which finds her eschewing any background vocals and gives a gritty and sincere vocal performance. “Walkin’ Down The Line” is about as pop as she gets on this release, as she speeds up the tempo and uses a number of background singers to fill in the sound. “Blowin’ In The Wind” has now been covered by countless artists, and while her version may have sounded fresh in 1963, today it is regulated to the average category.

While The Weavers originally recorded “If I Had A Hammer,” it is now associated with Peter, Paul & Mary; DeShannon’s take on the song is similar to theirs. But she also adds a little pop leaning to their “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” as well.

Two traditional folk songs fare well under her gentle touch. “500 Miles” and the old Celtic ballad “Betsy From Pike” are both delivered in a poignant and haunting manner.

Jackie DeShannon turned out to be the road less taken as far as her career was concerned. As such, it remains an interesting and still highly listenable album over a half-century after its initial release.

Rating: B

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