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Music Review: Jackie DeShannon – New Arrangement

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Jackie DeShannon released nineteen studio albums between 1963 and 1978, producing two top ten American singles with “What The World Needs Now Is Love” in 1965 and “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” in 1969. Yet she never became a household name in the United States. Her most interesting claim to fame was opening for The Beatles on tour in 1964. It is as a songwriter, however, that has yielded her most enduring success as her compositions have been continually recorded by many artists down through the years.

Collector’s Choice has now reached back into her extensive catalogue to reissue four of her classic albums. New Arrangement, originally released in 1975, finds her as a fully developed pop artist. Her early work was close to folk but over the years she had transitioned more toward pop. She was now using strings and a variety of other instruments to give her music a fuller sound.

While I own a vinyl copy of this album, the remastered CD, in comparison, makes for a vastly superior listen. He voice has a much purer quality than on my old record which greatly enhances the experience. The backing instruments are also crystal clear which allows an appreciation of her songwriting expertise.

Today the most famous track is her “Bette Davis Eyes.” Her vocal has a light jazz feel to it and the honky-tonk piano adds to its flavor. Six years later Kim Carnes would take this song in a rock direction with a gritty vocal and produce one of the biggest hit singles of the rock era, remaining in the number one position on the American charts for nine weeks. It would win DeShannon the Grammy Award for song of the year in 1982.

The album contains a number of excellent tracks. “Let The Sailors Dance” is wonderful and catchy up-tempo pop. “Boat To Sail” has sophisticated lyrics and interesting tempo changes. “Queen Of The Rodeo” is a blend of pop and country with a steel guitar in support.

There are five bonus tracks, including two rare singles DeShannon released for the Columbia Label which are a nice inclusion. Four of the bonus tracks were written with pop composer extraordinaire John Bettis, which is also a treat.

It’s nice to see Jackie DeShannon receiving some long overdue respect. If you have never explored her music, New Arrangement is a good place to start. You won’t be disappointed.   

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