That Jackie DeShannon is one of the most gifted singer-songwriters in popular music should come as no surprise to anybody reading this. Equally skilled at interpreting her own songs as well as those of others, the multi-talented Miss DeShannon was the concerned yet optimistic voice of “What the World Needs Now is Love,” the flower-power spokeswoman who implored you to “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” one of the first Ladies of the Canyon, and one-half of the songwriting team behind the eternally sensual “Bette Davis Eyes.” And that’s just naming a few of her accomplishments. Ace Records has celebrated DeShannon’s career on a series of her complete Liberty and Imperial singles as well as on a series of volumes recognizing her songwriting, the second of which has recently arrived. Take one glance at the list of artists populating She Did It! The Songs of Jackie DeShannon Volume 2 to get an idea of the breadth of her songwriting’s reach: The Carpenters, Marianne Faithfull, The Righteous Brothers, Olivia Newton-John, The Ronettes, Tammy Grimes, Kim Carnes (of course). The first volume, Break-A-Way: The Songs of Jackie DeShannon 1961-1967, had 27 of the more than 300 songs in her catalogue. In true Ace fashion, this set adds another 26, from the familiar (Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes”) to the obscure (Broadway star Grimes’ previously unissued “The Greener Side,” and the very first DeShannon cover, Brenda Lee’s bouncy, twangy “My Baby Likes Western Guys”). As DeShannon wrote as both a solo composer-lyricist and with other tunesmiths, there’s plenty of variety here, too.
Though most of Jackie’s songs from her halcyon days emanated from Metric Music, California’s answer to the Brill Building, they often ended up in surprising places. She Did It kicks off with southern soul singer supreme Doris Duke tackling the rootsy “Bad Water,” co-written by the “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” team of Jackie, her brother Randy Myers and singer Jimmy Holiday, as produced by Swamp Dogg in Alabama and arranged by Philadelphia’s Richard Rome. She Did It also spotlights the team’s aforementioned now-standard “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” as sung with equal parts passion and funk by ex-Edwin Hawkins Singers vocalist Dorothy Morrison and Holiday’s own, soulful rendition of 1969’s “Yesterday Died.” A true rarity comes from Myers’ band dubbed Raga and the Talas by Liberty Records imprint World Pacific. Jackie supplied her brother with “My Group and Me” in 1966, arranged in a then-cutting-edge Eastern-influenced style.
One of the most versatile of songwriters, She Did It features songs in pop, R&B, country and folk modes. In the latter, there are particularly wonderful discoveries in Bay Area duo Joe and Eddie’s “Depend on Yourself,” arranged by Leon Russell, Marianne Faithfull’s haunting 1966 rendition of Jackie’s “With You in Mind,” and an early recording by Delaney Bramlett of Delaney and Bonnie: the propulsive folk-rocker “You Have No Choice,” superbly produced as well as written by Jackie! As fans of her “Splendor in the Grass” with The Byrds know, DeShannon was a top proponent of the folk-rock sound. She Did It features another rarity in this vein, the very first 45 by beloved voice Olivia Newton-John: a version of Jackie’s “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine,” dating from 1966 – long before Grease and even before Toomorrow!
Jackie’s 1975 Columbia album New Arrangement, produced by Michael Stewart, proved a fertile source for a number of cover versions, three of which are included here. Rita Coolidge quickly latched onto the beautifully wistful “I Wanted It All,” co-written by Jackie and John Bettis. And then there’s “Bette Davis Eyes.” DeShannon admits in her sensational track-by-track recollections that producer Stewart envisioned the song as a shuffle, leaving it to producer Val Garay six years later to bring out the sex and the sass in the DeShannon/Donna Weiss tune. Kim Carnes’ raspy vocal was a perfect fit, and the song won Song of the Year and Record of the Year in addition to remaining atop the charts for nine weeks. It wasn’t a bad ending at all for a song which didn’t live up to its potential in its first recording. DeShannon had enlisted Brian Wilson for the background vocals on New Arrangement’s dreamy “Boat to Sail,” a song on which he’s actually name-checked in the lyrics. When The Carpenters revisited the escapist ode one year later in the version included here, the brother and sister duo brought their inimitable style to it. Karen’s invitingly warm and pure vocal evokes relaxed nostalgia, supported by Richard’s beautifully understated, tranquil orchestration.
Six songs here hail from the fruitful, early partnership of DeShannon and Sharon Sheeley including “It’s Just Terrible” (trust me, it isn’t) by Everly Brothers sound-alikes The Kalin Twins, the martial yet sensual ballad “Don’t Put Your Heart in His Hand” from young Kiki Dee, and the raucous “He Did It” from the pre-Phil Spector Ronettes. DeShannon and Sheeley’s “The Other Side of Town” is sung by P.J. Proby in full-on Elvis mode. If you ever wondered what The King might have sounded like crashing an uptown soul session by the likes of Chuck Jackson or Tommy Hunt, wonder no more. Here’s Proby as Elvis in a background of slashing, swirling strings and horns, doing full justice to the big ballad. Darlene Love has the lead on Spector’s production of “I Shook the World” for Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, but the fine liner notes reveal that the vocals were merely overdubbed on Jackie’s original demo as arranged by Spector’s usual right-hand, Jack Nitzsche.
There’s much more after the jump!
DeShannon had impeccable taste in collaborators. Some of her more famous partners included Nitzsche, Randy Newman and even Jimmy Page. Some of Newman’s finest early songs were co-written with Jackie, including “You Don’t Understand Him (Like I Do).” Originally recorded by Jackie and subsequently covered by artists including Brian Hyland with the requisite change of pronoun, Jeannie Seely reinterpreted it in Nashville in 1971 with tinkling piano, weeping guitars and Nashville Sound choir. That Seely’s vocal is sympathetic to the song should be no surprise; she actually wrote with Newman in her early days, too! From the DeShannon/Page songbook comes Dave Berry’s dramatic beat ballad “I’ve Got My Tears to Remind Me,” with “24 Hours from Tulsa”-esque mariachi horns. The DeShannon/Nitzsche partnership took many forms, with Jackie recording (and scoring a hit with) Nitzsche’s “Needles and Pins” and Nitzsche arranging her own “When You Walk in the Room.” Here you’ll find the team’s R&B-flavored “Burn on Love” for the Righteous Brothers, arranged by “Specs” Nitzsche with trademark honking saxophone. “Needles and Pins,” of course, was a hit for The Searchers; they’re heard here, too, with Jackie’s urgent “Each Time” as rendered by Tony Hatch in his own luscious Wall of Sound style.
Jackie’s most long-lasting collaboration, however, might be with Randy Edelman – her husband since 1976. Edelman, a distinguished film score composer and writer of such pop hits as Barry Manilow’s “Weekend in New England,” has occasionally written with his wife over the years including the 1982 track “Nobody Made Me” included here. The atmospheric, piano driven-ballad features Jackie and Kiki Dee on background vocals, and makes one wish that the couple wrote together more often!
Two previously unreleased tracks appear on She Did It. Tammy Grimes’ “The Greener Side” is a sensational find from Grimes’ tenure as a pop artist. The star of Broadway’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown and High Spirits has a wonderfully distinctive voice that was perfectly suited to dramatic pop fare; Randy Newman aficionados might know it from her stunning 45 of his “Nobody Needs Your Love (Like I Do).” That song was produced by Jack Nitzsche, as was “The Greener Side” with its dirty electric guitar and heavy percussion. The second “new” track is Jackie’s demo of “Love Forever Stay,” a song unrecorded by any other artist. It’s a chill-inducing thrill hearing DeShannon circa 1967 with just acoustic guitar accompaniment; her voice is piercing and resonant on this folk-influenced melody. Ace notes that “[DeShannon’s] fans live in hope of [her demos’] official release one day.” Indeed, here’s hoping!
In the meantime, we have She Did It – and she certainly did, as evidenced by these stellar 26 tracks. The anthology is accompanied by a typically lavish 20-page color booklet with numerous photos and memorabilia images, and Duncan Cowell has done a fine job remastering all of the tracks. May further releases celebrating the many facets of Jackie DeShannon continue to arrive from the team at Ace!
- Bad Water – Doris Duke (Mankind MLP 200, 1971)
- Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes (EMI America 8077, 1981)
- Yesterday Died – Jimmy Holiday (Minit 32079, 1969)
- Put a Little Love in Your Heart – Dorothy Morrison (Elektra 45671, 1969)
- You Don’t Understand Him Like I Do – Jeannie Seely (Decca 32838, 1971)
- It’s Just Terrible – The Kalin Twins (rec. 1962, issued Bear Family CD BCD 15597, 2010)
- I’ve Got My Tears to Remind Me – Dave Berry (Ace of Clubs LP ACL 1210, 1966)
- My Baby Likes Western Guys – Brenda Lee (Decca LP DL 74039, 1960)
- Don’t Put Your Heart in His Hand – Kiki Dee (Fontana TF 414, 1963)
- He Did It – The Ronettes (Colpix LP 486, 1965)
- Depend on Yourself – Joe and Eddie (GNP Crescendo 344, 1965)
- With You in Mind – Marianne Faithfull (London LP PS 482, 1966)
- Burn On Love – The Righteous Brothers (Moonglow LP MLP 1003, 1965)
- I’m Breaking the Law – Gerri Diamond (rec. 1963, issued Saxony 3001, 1997)
- Each Time – The Searchers (Pye LP NPL 10120, 1965)
- The Greener Side – Tammy Grimes (rec. 1966, previously unreleased)
- Colour Blue – Peter and Gordon (Columbia LP SX 6045, 1966)
- The Other Side of Town – P.J. Proby (Liberty 55505, 1962)
- Till You Say You’ll Be Mine – Olivia Newton-John (Decca F 12396, 1966)
- I Shook the World – Bob B Soxx and the Blue Jeans (Philles LP PHLP 4002, 1963)
- My Group and Me – Raga and the Talas (World Pacific 77847, 1966)
- You Have No Choice – Delaney Bramlett (GNP Crescendo 339, 1965)
- I Wanted It All – Rita Coolidge (A&M LP SP 4531, 1975)
- Boat to Sail – The Carpenters (A&M 1859, 1976)
- Nobody Made Me – Randy Edelman (Rocket XPRES 81, 1982)
- Love Forever Stay (Demo) – Jackie DeShannon (previously unreleased)
All tracks mono except Tracks 1-4, 7-8, 10, 13, 15, 23-25