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Review: Jackie DeShannon, “Keep Me in Mind: The Complete Imperial and Liberty Singles Volume 3”

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All good things must come to an end, and alas, that’s the case with the third volume of Jackie DeShannon’s Complete Imperial and Liberty Singles chronicling the decade-long output of the trailblazing songwriter and generation-defining singer.  DeShannon captured the spirit of her era with “What the World Needs Now is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” the latter of which finally appears on Volume Three, entitled Keep Me in Mind (Ace CDCHD 1350).  But as anyone who’s picked up the first two volumes knows, DeShannon’s catalogue is a deep and varied one, taking in her own compositions, some co-written with the likes of Randy Newman and Jack Nitzsche, plus many from her contemporaries, and even golden-age standards.  Volume One of the series has the jangly folk-rock of “Needles and Pins” and “When You Walk in the Room,” and Volume Two boasts those impeccable, sophisticated Burt Bacharach productions.  But Volume Three picks up in 1967, with DeShannon reinventing herself in the face of a music industry that was, by that point, changing faster than ever.  As such, this may be the most experimental and eclectic of the three collections.

“Changing My Mind,” one of those songs that could only have come from 1967, kicks off the collection with verve.  A loopy little ditty with an inventive, part-sunshine pop, part-vaudeville orchestration, it might have been too offbeat for mainstream radio but is nonetheless a delicious way to start off the compilation.  Its flipside characterizes the different avenues DeShannon was pursuing:  a perfectly pleasant revival of Tommy Edwards’ hit “It’s All in the Game.”  But her very next Liberty single teamed DeShannon with old friend Jack Nitzsche as producer/arranger: their own “I Keep Wanting You” and Bonner and Gordon’s much-recorded “Me About You.”  The A-side favorably compares with Jimmy Webb’s work of the time, with a resplendent horn break, backed by a female chorus.  It manages to be both dramatic and breezy.  DeShannon, with her smoky and sensual tone, caresses the tricky vocal line of “Me About You” with ease and grace, while Nitzsche supports her with an orchestration that’s lighter than air.

Similarly sympathetic arrangements came from Nick DeCaro, including the soulful “Nobody’s Home to Go Home To,” another slice of sophisti-pop from Toni Wine and Carole Bayer (later Sager).  But a more rootsy style of pop-rock was taking hold, including the rise of the singer/songwriter that would achieve full blossom within just a few years with albums like Carole King’s Tapestry and Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon.  But the trend-setting Jackie actually arrived in Laurel Canyon first, at least on evidence of the 1968 single and album of the same name, produced by Charles Greene and Brian Stone.  Jackie reflects on this very special time in Peter Lerner, Mick Patrick and Tony Rounce’s exemplary liner notes: “I wasn’t living in Laurel Canyon; I was like the next street over, just down the block.  It was a very special time and place…The muse was there.  There were so many writers and artists living in the area.  You just listened, and out the songs came.”  The song “Laurel Canyon” is a raw, impassioned blend of blue-eyed soul and folk-rock that showed DeShannon’s unwillingness to be pigeonholed as just one kind of vocalist.  It was backed with the sensitive, downbeat “Holly Would,” like “Laurel Canyon” written entirely by Jackie and arranged by New Orleans’ Harold Battiste.  The restless vocalist even teamed with soul man Bobby Womack for a subsequent single, “Trust Me” b/w “What is This.”  DeShannon was clearly inspired by all of the musical possibilities around her, effortlessly navigating Womack’s gritty R&B stylings.

Hit the jump for more, including the full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 29, 2012 at 10:02