October 9th – Jackie DeShannon – A New Arrangement

Considering how many of her songs have been recorded by others – and her enduring presence in the pop firmament – Jackie DeShannon has had relatively few hits.  There were only two biggies – What The World Needs Now (which, of course, she didn’t write) and Put A Little Love In Your Heart.  She also released the original versions of Needles and Pins and her own When You Walk In The Room though both were much bigger hits for the Searchers.  She recorded prolifically, particularly in the 60s and 70s, and was a significant interpreter of other people’s songs as well as her own.

New Arrangement is one of the best of her later albums, a one off for Columbia in 1975.  Several of the numbers were picked up by other artists (Rita Coolidge recorded I Wanted It All and The Carpenters a beautiful version of Boat To Sail).  Most notably, Kim Carnes scored big with Bette Davis Eyes.  For my money, shorn of the slightly affected melodrama of Carnes’ version, the original is better.

There isn’t a duff song on the album.  The title track, a wry tale of a sexually ambivalent artist, is typical of the lyrical concerns of an LP that largely eschews introspection or confessional in favour of witty observation.  I particularly like the line ‘You have lunch with your backer – her husband knows you well’.  On the downside, it’s from the time when orchestrated pop was starting to go mad for synthesisers and, as here, the keyboards can be a tad intrusive.  But at least producer Michael Stewart still remembered to employ a string section – and get Nick DeCaro and Jimmie Haskell write them some decent arrangements.

New Arrangement is out of print on CD but easily downloadable and well worth your notice – especially if you think Jackie DeShannon’s main contribution to pop music is covering Bacharach and David songs and having her misses turned into hits by Merseybeat groups.