Over the last couple of years Ace Records have been taking a long and leisurely look at the recording career of the exciting and unpredictable singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon. Their previous two compilations of her 1960s singles from the Liberty and Imperial labels, “You Won’t Forget Me” and “Come And Get Me”, have been replete with firm favourites and unexpected treats. Their new release, “Keep Me In Mind”, continues the story from 1967 through to 1970.
Jackie’s songwriting talents continued to bloom. Whether on her own or with collaborators, including top West Coast man-about-the-studio Jack Nitzsche and fellow singer Jimmy Holiday, Jackie came up with a string of commercial, tuneful and thoughtful songs which are a delight to listen to. Try for size the tender ‘Holly Would’, the breezy ‘Brighton Hill’ and the complex ‘Mediterranean Sky’.
Jackie also retained her unfailing ability to find the best works of other songwriters and adapt them to her own impressive vocal and emotional range. This album includes early works by Leonard Cohen, Robbie Robertson, Carole Bayer, Toni Wine and John Sebastian, as well as songs by Hal David, John Barry and Holland-Dozier-Holland.
Halfway through this joyful collection comes Jackie’s own version – the original and best – of her song ‘Put A Little Love In Your Heart’, a million-seller which encapsulates the views of a generation and has been covered by hundreds of other performers. Listening to the simple but perfectly expressed message still brings a lump to the throat and tears to the eyes of any thinking person.
Other highlights are her personal ode to ‘Laurel Canyon’ (several years before the place was rediscovered by Joni Mitchell) and the emotional and raw medley of ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ and ‘Hurt So Bad’. Jackie’s interpretation of ‘The Weight’ may not be as well remembered as the Band’s, but it actually achieved a higher rating in the US charts.
For those who like to delve beyond the hits, there are some nice surprises. The two sides Jackie recorded in partnership with Bobby Womack demonstrate her real affinity with soul music, while her Christmas single is a true collector’s item. ‘Didn’t Want To Have To Do It’ is a very rare 45, as it was cancelled to make way for ‘The Weight’. And the title track, ‘Keep Me In Mind’, was only released on a single in the UK. The final track is Jackie’s stunning interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bird On The Wire’, another cancelled single.
Jackie DeShannon’s recording career continued to blossom into the 1970s and beyond, on Capitol, Atlantic and Columbia Records. And she has continued to write top quality songs through the decades, her most recent hitting the downloads in 2012. Thanks, ACE, for giving us this complete and rewarding insight into the early days of Jackie’s brilliant career.
By Peter Lerner
photo courtesy Jim Pierson