Vanilla O’Lay 45 by Jackie DeShannon

May 19, 2012

Jackie DeShannon is one of those artists who should have been a bigger star. While she had two top ten singles back in the 1960s, “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put A Little Love In Your Heart;” today she is many times best remembered as the writer of Kim Carnes mega-hit, “Bette Davis Eyes.”

She would continue to issue creative and smooth pop singles until the early 1980s, many of which would reach the lower reaches of the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

“Vanilla O’Lay” was representative of her music at the time. Released during the late spring of 1972, it was a creative pop song than deserved better that its peak at number 76.

Brighton Hill 45 by Jackie DeShannon

April 26, 2012

Jackie DeShannon scored two top ten hits during the 1960s, “What The World Needs Now is Love” (#7) and “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” (#4). She would continue to releases singles for the next several decades but only one would reach the top 40.

“Brighton Hill” was the type of smooth pop she would continue to issue the rest of her career. It first reached the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, March 7, 1970, but would stall at number 82.

DeShannon would go on to gain fame as a songwriter. While she never had a number one song herself, her Bette Davis Eyes, as recorded by Kim Carnes, became one of the biggest single hits of all time by remaining on top of the charts for nine weeks. That probably equaled a whole lot of royalty checks.

Bette Davis Eyes 45 by Kim Carnes

December 15, 2011

At the beginning of 1981 Kim Carnes was a journeywoman singer whose major claim to fame had been the duet hit with Kenny Rogers, “Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer.” She and Rogers first met while they had been members of The New Christy Minstrels together.

She made the decision to record the obscure 1974 Jackie DeShannon composition, “Bette Davis Eyes,” for her MISTAKEN IDENTITY ALBUM and then release it as a single and the rest as they say is history.

“Betty Davis Eyes,” topped the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart in the United States for nine weeks. It was the number two ranked single of the 1980s and for the period, 1955-1995, it ranked as one of the 20 biggest single releases. It was nominated for four Emmy Awards and won two.

Kim Carnes would never equal that success again but the raspy voiced singer would go on to place a number of releases on the singles and album charts down through the years.

When You Walk In The Room by Jackie DeShannon

August 17, 2011

Jackie DeShannon is one of the better, if under-appreciated, singer/songwriters in all of American music. Her career now extends back 50 years and has produced dozens of hit songs and albums. She was an opening act on The Beatles first North American tour and was recently inducted into The Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

Her songbook has been waiting for interpretation, and what better person to re-record these songs than DeShannon herself? When You Walk In The Room (scheduled for release on September 27) finds her revisiting 11 of her best-known songs.

DeShannon has one of those unique voices that is instantly recognizable. And here she wisely strips the music to its basics as an acoustic guitar and bass provide the major instrumental backing. Throw in some judiciously placed strings and electric guitar and you have the definitive re-interpretation of her work. She takes this material in a gentle direction and while the songs can be considered straight pop, many times her approach moves over into folk territory. Her voice sounds better than in the past as she is able to adapt the material to suit her current capabilities.

“When You Walk In The Room” is the lead track and sets the table for what will follow. She recorded the song with a different tempo that renders it into something much simpler focuses on the lyrics. The acoustic guitar playing is mixed just right as each note is crystal clear.

DeShannon recorded “Bette Davis Eyes” in 1974 and released it on the album, New Arrangement,but the song will always be most associated with Kim Carnes, whose 1981 version topped the Billboard Pop Singles Chart for nine weeks and was the second-ranked single of the decade. DeShannon, as the co-writer of the track, won the 1982 Grammy for Song of The Year. Here she strips the song down with only an acoustic guitar and some subtle bass lines in support. Her relaxed, smooth vocal is the exact opposite of the one Carnes delivered with such intensity.

While she wrote or co-wrote nine of these 11 tracks, one DeShannon did not pen was “Needles and Pins,” which originally was an obscure single for her in 1963. The Searchers scored a pop hit with an uptempo version of this Jack Nitzsche/Sonny Bono composition about a year later. Here, DeShannon renders it as a creative ballad.

Her two biggest hits, “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put A Little Love In Your Heart,” are present but the big surprise of the album is “Bad Water.” She gets a little bluesy with the vocal, which recalls her approach in the past. Overall When You Walk In The Room is a wonderful journey through Jackie DeShannon’s past with a modern twist. By presenting many of her best songs at their simplest, she proves they were indeed worth revisiting.

Article first published as Music Review: Jackie DeShannon – When You Walk In The Room on Blogcritics.

The Weight 45 by Jackie DeShannon

August 11, 2011

I Wanna Go Home 45 by Jackie DeShannon

May 19, 2011

Jackie DeShannon is best remembered for a series of hits during the 1960’s and 1970’s. She also gained some fame as the writer of Kim Carnes huge hit, “Bette Davis Eyes.”

She first came to the public’s attention as an opening act on one of The Beatles North American tours. It also helped that she was one of the best looking female pop artists of the 1960’s

Everybody’s career has to begin somewhere. She released “I Wanna Go Home” on the old Edison International Label during 1960. Today it is a very difficult single to locate and is highly collectable.

It wasn’t a hit, but it was a start.

Jackie DeShannon by Jackie DeShannon

December 6, 2009

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 the number two ranked single of the entire decade.

She has released numerous albums and singles during the course of her almost five decades 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.

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 sixties. 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” where she eschews 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 and her take on the song is similar to theirs. 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 46 years after its initial release.