Jackie DeShannon toured with The Beatles, dated Jimmy Page, and hung out with Elvis. She also has placed sixteen singles on the Billboard charts and released over twenty studio albums. Her original compositions have been recorded by many artists and in 1982 her “Bette Davis Eyes” won the The Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
Collectors Choice Music has just issued several of her classic albums and this is the best value as you receive two albums for the price of one. Me About You, issued in 1968, and To Be Free, issued in 1970, are now seeing the light of day for the first time in decades.
Me About You catches her trying to change with the times. Music was evolving in 1968 and she was trying to present a more mature mix of material. She depended upon songwriters of the day as she only wrote three of the tracks.
Her vocal style is fully developed by the time she recorded this album. She still has a purity to her style but now added an ability to provide passion and emotion as well.
She recorded three tracks by the songwriting team of Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon. The title song is given an urgency not heard on The Turtles version. “What Ever Happened To Happy” is smooth and perky while “I’m With You” comes very close to a country sound.
There are a number of other highlights as well. She takes the old Four Tops tune, “I’ll Turn To Stone,” in a pop direction. Two Tim Hardin songs, “Baby Close Its Eyes” and the bonus track “Reason To Believe,” are given simple renditions as is The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Didn’t Want To Have To Do It.”
Her best original compositions are the ballad “Splendor In The Grass” and the nice love song “I Keep Wanting You.”
To Be Free is a very different affair. She mostly leaves the cover songs behind and writes or co-writes eight of its eleven tracks. She also is supported by a number of background singers in places which help to fill out the sound.
“Livin’ On The Easy Side," “What Was Your Day Like,” and “Child Of The Street” show a great deal of lyrical and musical growth by DeShannon as she leaves the simplicity of her early compositions behind. “Brighton Hill,” inspired by her love of the English countryside, features a very smooth pop vocal and should have been a big hit single.
She always had an affinity for soul music and here she successfully presents a medley of the odd combination of The Supremes' “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and Little Anthony and The Imperials' “Hurt So Bad.”
Me About You/To Be Free is a nice slice of late sixties, early seventies pop music by an artist who is often ignored. This one is a keeper.