It may have been sheer coincidence that Ace dropped I’ll Do Anything: The Doris Troy Anthology 1960-1996 and Jackie DeShannon’s Come and Get Me: The Complete Liberty and Imperial Singles Volume 2 on the same day. But different though these two singers may be, their similarities are striking. Both were pioneering female songwriters, with Troy penning her biggest hit, “Just One Look,” and DeShannon offering up the likes of “When You Walk in the Room” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” Both had great success recording in England and both had a Beatle connection. DeShannon toured with the group while Troy actually was produced by George Harrison while Ringo sat in on drums. And now both are recipients of two of 2011’s most exciting releases.
It’s impossible to believe that Doris Troy’s “I’ll Do Anything (He Wants Me to Do),” the track which gives her anthology its name, wasn’t a smash hit. This remarkable early production by the young Kenny Gamble was written by Gamble, his partner Leon Huff and Doris herself (as Doris Payne, no relation to the jewel thief!). Slated for “Mashed Potato Time” star and Gamble’s future wife Dee Dee Sharp, it was released by Cameo Parkway’s Calla division in the waning days of the label. What a discovery! This pulsating floor-filler has little in common with the smooth soul of Gamble and Huff’s later Philadelphia International days, but you’ll have to fight the urge to keep hitting the “repeat” button nonetheless! After all, “I’ll Do Anything” is only the first song on Ace’s non-chronological disc. It’s hard to resist, though – the track is on fire! Another lost classic from her brief Cameo tenure is “But I Love Him.” Arranged by Neil Sedaka’s frequent collaborator Alan Lorber, this call-and-response plea was cut for Atlantic in 1963 but not released until 1965 on Cameo. Listen a little longer, however, and it’s clear that Troy experimented with a variety of styles, with only her soulful vocals as a constant. The immortal “Just One Look,” released by Atlantic in 1963, is almost an afterthought among all of these gems.
The two earliest tracks on the set are both from 1960, and reflect Troy’s multifaceted voice: the shouting “You Better Mind” and its follow-up, the ballad “What a Wonderful Lover.” In between trying to break in solo, Troy was an in-demand session vocalist often working with the Drinkard Singers, the group that also boasted Dionne Warwick, Dee Dee Warwick and Cissy Houston in its ranks. By 1962, they were the go-to group, recording with top acts like The Drifters and Solomon Burke. As Troy recalled in the liner notes, Dionne was first to leave the group. Doris followed, then Dee Dee, and finally Cissy with The Sweet Inspirations. Dionne Warwick, of course, had her breakthrough on Florence Greenberg’s Scepter label (the story of which is told in the upcoming Broadway musical Baby, It’s You!). On its sister imprint, Wand, Troy provided uncredited vocals on Chuck Jackson’s “Tell Him I’m Not Home,” a prime slice of uptown soul conducted by Tony Bruno and arranged by Steven Garrick. The production has an R&B feel similar to some of Leiber and Stoller and Burt Bacharach’s work with the Drifters, and made such an impression on music biz insiders early in 1963 that it sealed Troy a deal with Atlantic. Collaborations are a major part of I’ll Do Anything. Troy reunited with Jackson in 1964 contributing the responses to the Luther Dixon-produced “Beg Me” (beg him, she did!) and there’s also the brassy “What a Night, Night, Night,” an early track from 1961 by “Jay and Dee” a.k.a. Doris and the otherwise-unknown Jay, described by Doris as “a nice guy, a nice looking guy.” Her arguably most heralded pairing, however, was with George Harrison. Read on, after the jump!
The inclusion of the two funky Harrison-produced Apple tracks are this collection’s coup, as the Beatles-owned label is notorious for its selective licensing. The 1970 single “Ain’t That Cute,” co-written by Troy and Harrison, is included along with album track “You Tore Me Up Inside.” While these songs make for a fine sampler, Troy’s entire Apple album – filled to the brim with soul and grit – is available in a highly recommended expanded edition.
“Can’t Hold On” is an up-tempo, ready-for-disco track produced by John Davis for the Midsong International label in a pronounced Philly soul bag. The liner notes tease us with mention of Troy’s cover of the Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes” recorded for the label, as well as an entire shelved LP and a song, “Can’t Hold On” (for which the LP was named) reuniting Troy with Dee Dee Warwick on the background vocals. The most recent performance on I’ll Do Anything is from 1996, but it not-so-accidentally sounds like one of the earliest. James Hunter has made a fine career recording his original compositions in a style owing greatly to the era and style of Sam Cooke, just to name one of his influences, and 1996’s duet “Hear Me Calling” sounds vintage in every respect. Troy, for her part, sounds hardly a day older than on the earliest tracks on this collection. Doris Troy passed away in 2004 at the age of 67, but her soul-deep catalogue practically begs for Volume Two!
“Two” is the number of Jackie DeShannon’s latest release, the second in Ace’s series collecting her entire singles output for Liberty and Imperial. DeShannon was, and is, equally multi-faceted. The 26 tracks, all derived from the original mono singles masters, show her effortless mastery, whether singing in the gut-bucket vein of Ray Charles, rockabilly a la Buddy Holly, folk-rock with The Byrds, or sophisticated supper-club soul with Bacharach and David.
There’s a fun article reprinted in the comprehensive liner notes booklet entitled “Prophetess of Pop – That’s Jackie” from the October 31, 1964 edition of the U.K.’s Disc. In Nigel Hunter’s interview, DeShannon states, “I suppose I’m a writer first and foremost,” and that’s in ample evidence on Come and Get Me. DeShannon penned eleven of the compilation’s twenty-six tracks, and they stand proudly among its best cuts. “Hold Your Head High” and “She Don’t Understand Him Like I Do” were both co-written with the 20-year old Randy Newman, and though their collaborations weren’t great in number, they were in every other way! Both are in the strongly dramatic vein mined by Newman in his early solo compositions (“I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore,” “I’ve Been Wrong Before”). DeShannon’s vocals perfectly capture the angst-ridden tone of “She Don’t Understand Him,” a real slow burner. Jeannie Seely would take the song to the country charts seven years after its 1964 debut. “Hold Your Head High,” on the other hand, is an exhortation to “Hold your head high/When he passes you by/You know he’s your guy/So hold your head up high” to a girl clearly in distress, set to a martial backing.
DeShannon followed these songs with a quartet of tracks produced by Jack Nitzsche, the most improbable of them being “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” sung with spirited gospel fervor. This was bizarrely backed with an out-and-out rocker, “It’s Love Baby (24 Hours a Day),” a revival of Louis Brooks and The Tune Toppers’ 1955 R&B hit. This track is taken at a frenetic pace, enhanced by breakneck guitar and a supportive chorus. Nitzsche also co-wrote “Be Good Baby” with Jackie, a ballad with shimmering strings, handclaps and prominent, angelic voices supporting Jackie’s sweet lead. But “rock” was again the buzzword for DeShannon’s next single, too – a reissue of her original “When You Walk in the Room,” sped up to more resemble a beat group style as an answer to The Searchers’ hit recording of the song. This was backed with the rollicking N’awlins R&B of Allen Toussaint’s “Over You.”
Come and Get Me effortlessly chronicles one high point to another. “Don’t Turn Your Back on Me” is practically a duet with Jimmy Page, who embellishes the up-tempo gem with his very prominent guitar. Played frequently on pirate radio stations, this song practically embodies Swinging London. The best was yet to come for DeShannon, though, when she was whisked back to New York in early 1965 to meet with Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
Jackie confirms that the team was never set to produce an LP for her, only a number of singles. Bacharach and David produced five songs for DeShannon, all arranged and conducted by Bacharach. All five songs are featured on Come and Get Me, and one of them would make her a bona fide star, “What the World Needs Now is Love.” The song had reportedly been passed on by artists such as Gene Pitney, Timi Yuro and even Bacharach’s muse, Dionne Warwick. DeShannon recalls in Tony Rounce, Mick Patrick and Peter Lerner’s excellent notes that “Hal kept asking Burt to play” the song, clearly proud of his first socially-conscious lyric. They then rehearsed it “quite a lot” and as was customary, recorded it live in the studio. Jackie felt, “It was always fun to work with Burt and Hal. I always felt very secure with the material. They were perfectionists. You knew you were getting in a Rolls Royce.” The hard work paid off with DeShannon’s very first Top Ten single. With this song, DeShannon became Imperial’s biggest-selling artist. Its original B-side, “A Lifetime of Loneliness,” also finds Jackie in lush Bacharach ballad territory, navigating the twisting, complicated melody (and attendant time signature changes) with ease. It was inevitable that the label would reteam DeShannon with Bacharach and David; 1966’s “Come and Get Me” may be this author’s personal favorite of the Bacharach material, and it too was rewarded with a Top 100 chart placement. The opening horn figure is the very sound of wistfulness, with Jackie languidly admitting, “I know what life has done to you/Things haven’t been too much fun for you/That’s why you went away/And now I’m all alone/I wasn’t meant to be on my own…” before passionately crying, “There’s no place in this world I wouldn’t go” for her guy. Who could resist that? Not long after came the contemplative “Windows and Doors,” heard here in a previously-unreleased edit with a few extra words from the chorus. Its B-side, “So Long, Johnny” is one of Bacharach’s breeziest songs, and one that is criminally unknown, with a delicious vocal from Jackie that finds her imploring her man to “wait for me” while she takes care of some baggage with an ex. Will she come back to Johnny? One wonders…
Where to go from there? DeShannon moved forward, embracing another new direction. She staked a claim to the folk-rock crown when her stunning composition “Splendor in the Grass,” recorded with the Byrds as her backing band, was placed as the B-side to “Come and Get Me.” Then there was a Chip Taylor song, “I Can Make It with You,” that remains among the singer’s favorites of her own work. By 1967, DeShannon was in great demand, and Hollywood enlisted her to record the theme to the film Hawaii. The song by Elmer Bernstein and Mack David (Hal’s brother), “The Wishing Doll,” was nominated for an Academy Award and DeShannon performed it on the ceremony. It hasn’t held up as well as the other tracks mentioned, but remains a fascinating curio. Legendary jazz arranger Marty Paich contributed the orchestration for “I Haven’t Got Anything Better to Do,” a Paul Vance/Lee Pockriss tune released in support of the film Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding!, which would go on to receive many cover versions. This, too, has a different feel than previous singles, but DeShannon gives it her all.
Versatility. Class. And oh yeah – chops. All three qualities (among many others!) are in abundance when it comes to the recordings of Doris Troy and Jackie DeShannon. Ace has done these tremendous talents justice with this pair of compilations. Duncan Cowell mastered both releases, and both offer thick booklets (22 pages for Troy, 18 for DeShannon) copiously illustrated with original labels and artwork plus detailed essays. If you’ve even a passing interest in the sound of music, circa the 1960s, you owe it to yourself to pick these up. The sounds of Doris Troy and Jackie DeShannon are still the sounds of love, sweet love.