After an eight-year run on Liberty/Imperial that included the Bacharach-David-penned “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and the original â€œPut a Little Love in Your Heart,â€ singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon made a brief stop at Capitol before moving on to Atlantic. Capitol initially sent DeShannon to Memphis to record with producer Chips Moman and his American Sound studio regulars, but other than the single â€œStone Cold Soulâ€ and the LP track â€œShow Me,â€ the sessions were shelved. Her second session, recorded in Los Angeles with Eric Malamud and John Palladino, resulted in the album Songs, and just like that, DeShannon was off to Atlantic. Eleven completed Moman masters appeared in the UK on RPMâ€™s 2006 reissue of Songs, all of which is collected here along with five additional previously unreleased Memphis tracks, and liners from Joe Marchese that include a fresh interview with the artist.
DeShannon arrived in December 1970 at 827 Thomas Street to record at a studio that had put itself on the map with iconic records by the Box Tops, Neil Diamond, Dusty Springfield and Elvis Presley. Though sheâ€™d previously tapped into her childhood love of R&B with a cover of Holland, Dozier & Hollandâ€™s â€œYou Keep Me Hanginâ€™ On,â€ settling in with Moman and his â€œMemphis Boysâ€ house band afforded an opportunity to fully fuse her love of soul music with original songs and well-selected cover material. One of DeShannonâ€™s lasting artistic assets is her dual excellence as a songwriter and an interpreter of other writersâ€™ songs. Here she shows off her interpretive abilities with selections from William Bell, Goffin & King, Emitt Rhodes, Arlo Guthrie, Van Morrison, and the non-charting title track by Mark James, the writer of Elvis Presleyâ€™s American Studios recording of â€œSuspicious Minds.â€
The set opens with a short, previously unreleased take on Bellâ€™s â€œYou Donâ€™t Miss Your Water (Til Your Well Runs Dry),â€ establishing the Memphis sessionâ€™s southern credentials with DeShannonâ€™s soulful vocal and the piano and guitar â€œgoodiesâ€ (as DeShannon calls them in the liner notes) of Bobby Woods and Reggie Young. The band plays as a tight, adaptable unit, providing thoughtful backing for the rural struggle of â€œWest Virginia Mine,â€ and a more optimistic mood for the poetic look at the Israeli settlements of â€œNow That the Desert is Blooming.â€ The arrangements take the cover songs in subtly new directions as the guitar, strings, horns and backing vocals of Carole Kingâ€™s â€œChild of Mineâ€ gently frame DeShannonâ€™s rough-edged vocal, and an upbeat soul treatment separates the cover from Emitt Rhodesâ€™ original of â€œLive Till You Dieâ€
Spooner Oldham and Dan Pennâ€™s â€œSweet Inspirationâ€ might seem like a gimme for the American Sound crew, but DeShannon leads them with a gentler vocal groove than the Sweet Inspirationsâ€™ original, and Arlo Guthrieâ€™s B-side â€œGabrielâ€™s Motherâ€™s Highwayâ€ fits easily into the albumâ€™s gospel vibe. The collection features five previously unreleased Memphis recordings, including keyboardist Bobby Emmonsâ€™ â€œThey Got You Boyâ€ and a cover of George Harrisonâ€™s deeply moving â€œIsnâ€™t It a Pity.â€ While the Memphis tracks donâ€™t necessarily jump out as hit singles, the material was well picked, DeShannon was in fine voice and found real chemistry with the house band, so itâ€™s hard to imagine why Capitol didnâ€™t hear the commercial potential, and scrapped the sessions.
But scrap them they did, and DeShannon moved on to record in Los Angeles with a different set of studio hands. The results would be released as the Songs album, opening with one of the two songs salvaged from the Memphis sessions, â€œShow Me.â€ Written by session guitarist Johnny Christopher, the songâ€™s musical hall style was at odds with the soul of the Memphis sessions, but indicated the variety the Los Angeles album would bring. In addition to her downbeat folk â€œSalinas,â€ upbeat funk â€œBad Waterâ€ and a new arrangement of â€œWest Virginia Mine,â€ DeShannon picked up Bob Dylanâ€™s â€œLady, Lady, Lay,â€ Hoyt Axtonâ€™s â€œEase Your Pain,â€ McGuinness Flintâ€™s â€œInternational,â€ a blistering version of the traditional â€œDown By the Riverside,â€ and original material from the session players.
The Los Angeles sessions didnâ€™t have the regional flair or musical centeredness of Memphis, but the individual tracks were well picked and thoughtfully performed. DeShannon returned to Memphis to record Jackie for Atlantic, and edged a few singles onto the bottom of the chart, but like her earlier Memphis session, the material remained largely unknown to all but dedicated fans. Real Goneâ€™s 25-track collection includes all of the finished tracks DeShannon recorded for Capitol, highlighted by five previously unreleased Memphis selections (1, 3, 7-9). Joe Marcheseâ€™s liner notes feature fresh remembrances from DeShannon and the booklet includes previously unpublished photos. Fans finally have the full story of DeShannonâ€™s short lived, but artistically rich Memphis-to-Los Angeles ride with Capitol. [Â©2018 Hyperbolium]