“Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand, put a little love in your heart.” That was the opening mantra of Jackie DeShannon’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” which she penned with her brother Randy Myers and Jimmy Holiday. The 1969 single took the singer-songwriter to the pinnacle in popular music, selling more than a million copies. In the late 1980s, Annie Lennox and Al Green paired up on a hit remake but it was Jackie’s original recording that served as one of the anthems of a generation during the socially and politically turbulent Vietnam War era.
On When You Walk in the Room, the newly-recorded collection of revisited favorites from the DeShannon oeuvre scheduled for September 27, 2011 release on RockBeat Records (through eOne Entertainment), the gems are allowed to breathe through stripped-down productions, allowing their lyrics to resonate and touch your soul. Liner notes are by Huffington Post music writer Mike Ragogna.
The album contains such classics as “When You Walk in the Room,” “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” “Bette Davis Eyes,” “Come and Stay With Me,” and “Heart in Hand” — all of which are DeShannon originals or co-writes, plus Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono’s “Needles and Pins” and Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love.”
One listen to the relaxed tempo treatment of “Breakaway” or the soft-ballad rebirth of “When You Walk in the Room” and you’ll understand why Jackie DeShannon remains one of the most cherished artists of the singer-songwriter era and why she was inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.
Nothing but an acoustic guitar and bass are needed whenever a vocalist this expressive is involved. That approach — with splashes of strings and an electric guitar or two — is how Jackie tackles these recordings. This includes a new song, “Will You Stay in My Life,” a highly visual creation that reinforces the romanticism inherent in DeShannon’s repertoire.
The revisited Jackie DeShannon classics featured on this package are like mile markers on pop’s journey through the decades. “When You Walk in the Room,” with words and music by the singer, and “Needles and Pins” represent the early 1960s Jackie. Her long tenure with Liberty/Imperial Records was best expressed by her work with eclectic arranger-composer Nitzsche, a close friend and artistic collaborator. U.K. Mersey Beat band the Searchers hung their star over both sides of the pond with covers of the DeShannon tunes that would become rock standards. But on her versions, Jackie reads the lyrics with a wider range of emotions, revealing a deep, evolving artist.
As the ’60s evolved, DeShannon grew as a writer and recording artist. She had the good fortune to join the Beatles in 1964 as an opening act on their first U.S. tour, performed with blues guitarist Ry Cooder at the legendary Ash Grove, and wrote with fellow Metric Music Publishing song scribe Randy Newman. Folk-rock pioneers the Byrds featured Jackie’s original “Don’t Doubt Yourself Babe” on their debut album. In England, she composed and recorded with a pre-Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page, and subsequently wrote one of British songbird Marianne Faithfull’s signature songs, “Come and Stay With Me.” Back home, Jackie was a frequent presence on hip television music shows such as Shindig! and sang with Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell and the Everly Brothers.
DeShannon achieved a top ten hit in 1965 with her exquisitely soulful rendition of Bacharach and David’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” The recording — which earned three Grammy nominations, including Best Female Vocal, Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Vocal and Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Single — became the definitive interpretation and was a recent induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Jackie firmly established herself with a song of her own, on her own terms, with “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” bringing her another Best Contemporary Female Vocal Grammy® nomination. She also came up with the bluesy “Bad Water,” which Ray Charles’ Raelettes issued in 1970. As that decade progressed, DeShannon wrote with Van Morrison and John Bettis, among others.
Her writing work with Donna Weiss took DeShannon into the ’80s: their “Bette Davis Eyes” broke Kim Carnes as a major artist of that decade. The song was one of the U.S.’s first “new wave” hits, and earned Jackie the 1982 Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
On When You Walk in the Room, DeShannon revisits these tunes in a timeless context. The songs themselves are the stars of the album.
Jackie DeShannon’s songs have been performed by a wide range of artists, including Van Morrison, Al Green, Annie Lennox, Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, The Byrds, Marianne Faithfull, The Temptations, Cher, The Searchers, Brenda Lee, Rick Nelson, The Carpenters, Anne Murray, Delaney & Bonnie, Ella Fitzgerald, Steve Forbert, Pam Tillis, The Dave Clark Five, Tracey Ullman, Dean Martin, Mary Mary, Dionne Warwick, Bobby Vee, The Fleetwoods, Dobie Gray, Rita Coolidge, Duane Eddy and dozens more.
About RockBeat Records:
Arny Schorr, president of S’more Entertainment, Inc., proud purveyors of classic TV, cult films, long-form music and unique special interest programming, has announced the formation of RockBeat Records, a new audio label dedicated to the release of enhanced CDs and vinyl and the creation of reissues and compilations on a variety of music genres. James Austin, previously Vice President of A&R at Rhino Records, has joined the company in the capacity of Vice President of A&R, overseeing the acquisition and development of all audio releases for the new label. S’more Entertainment and RockBeat have entered into an exclusive distribution license with eOne Entertainment for distribution for the company’s CD, vinyl and DVD product mix, as well as for digital distribution.