Billy Vera, Alberta Hunter and Jackie DeShannon may not have terribly much in common at first glance. But they're just a few of the artists coming your way thanks to Rockbeat Records. Yes, there's a new player in the catalogue field, and their slate of reissues proves that they're ready to make a big impression!
Founded by Arny Schorr of S'more Entertainment and distributed by eOne, Rockbeat counts among its team an alumnus of Rhino Records. James Austin, the former Vice President of A&R at Rhino, serves in the same capacity at the up-and-coming label. Rockbeat promises "the release of enhanced CDs and vinyl and the creation of reissues and compilations on a variety of music genres." The label is making good on that promise with a diverse group of artists and releases, all of which can be found at its website. These include releases in genres ranging from blues and country to folk and adult contemporary. Among the enticing albums already available or in the pipeline: Billy Vera's career anthology The Billy Vera Story, Alberta Hunter's Downhearted Blues, Carole King's Pearls: The Songs of Goffin and King, Quicksilver Messenger Service's self-titled debut, Dave Edmunds' Rockpile and Ike and Tina Turner's Festival of Live Performance.
One upcoming title isn't a reissue, but should be of great interest to a number of our readers nonetheless. Jackie DeShannon's last studio album was 2000's You Know Me on the Varese Sarabande label. Since then, fans of DeShannon have had to content themselves with numerous reissues of her original albums as well as anthologies of her finest work.
Rockbeat has just announced the September 27 release of When You Walk in the Room, a newly-recorded collection of some of DeShannon's greatest hits and personal favorites. Much like a great catalogue reissue can cast a vintage recording in a new light, DeShannon intends to do the same with the stripped-down acoustic reworkings of her familiar songs. Guitar, voice and bass are the order of the day, with occasional flourishes of electric guitar or subtle strings. The eleven tracks include both those written by DeShannon ("Put a Little Love in Your Heart," "Bette Davis Eyes") and those in her songbook written by others but popularized by Jackie (Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "What The World Needs Now," Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono's "Needles and Pins").
When You Walk in the Room is a particularly timely release, coinciding with DeShannon's 2011 induction into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. That august institution is currently chaired by Jackie's contemporary, Jimmy Webb, with Hal David a Chairman Emeritus. The album isn't an exercise in recreating the sounds of yesteryear (though DeShannon's voice has more than held up over the years) in the style of Squeeze's Spot the Difference or America's The Hits, but rather an intimate recasting of some cherished compositions, more in the style of Randy Newman's Songbook volumes.
Hit the jump for more on Jackie DeShannon and Rockbeat Records!
Ace is currently two volumes into its series collecting the artist's complete Liberty and Imperial singles, a fertile period of invention which saw DeShannon collaborating with some of the most renowned names in music: the aforementioned Mr. Newman, Jack Nitzsche, Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Page, Chip Taylor, The Byrds and more. She was beloved in England, with Merseybeat favorites The Searchers reinterpreting her songs to great success; she even toured with the Beatles. It's all too unknown that, back home, that DeShannon presaged the Southern California singer/songwriter boom with her 1969 album Laurel Canyon. Her open hearted spirit was in evidence not only on the Bacharach-produced "What the World Needs Now Is Love" (which earned three Grammy nominations: Best Female Vocal, Best Contemporary Rock and Roll Vocal and Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Single) but on her own self-written "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," which earned her another nomination as Best Contemporary Female Vocal. Both songs can be heard on When You Walk in the Room, still as relevant today as they were during the Vietnam era.
DeShannon continued recording throughout the 1970s and hit commercial and Grammy gold with Kim Carnes' 1982 recording of her "Bette Davis Eyes," written with Donna Weiss, and introduced on Jackie's 1974 album New Arrangement. That, too, is present here, with the layer of New Wave gloss stripped away and the song returned to its roots. (Devotees of DeShannon should also check out La-La Land's three-disc edition of the soundtrack to the 1986 flick The Golden Child; among its copious bonus material is the song "Dance a Little Closer," written by Jackie, her husband Randy Edelman ("Weekend in New England") and the legendary John Barry, and performed by Edelman.)
A name familiar to readers of The Second Disc, Mike Ragogna, is writing liner notes for When You Walk in the Room. The album is due in stores on September 27 and you'll find a pre-order link below. Wouldn't it be nice if Rockbeat would next look into licensing some of DeShannon's long out-of-print albums for future reissue, such as 1977's You're the Only Dancer and 1978's Quick Touches? You can visit Rockbeat Records here, and be sure to tell 'em The Second Disc sent you!
Jackie DeShannon, When You Walk in the Room (Rockbeat Records, 2011)
- When You Walk in the Room
- Put a Little Love in Your Heart
- Bette Davis Eyes
- Heart in Hand
- Come and Stay with Me
- Don't Doubt Yourself, Babe
- Needles and Pins
- What the World Needs Now is Love
- Bad Water
- Will You Stay in My Life