In case you don't know, DeShannon has had a long career as a singer songwriter. She's best known as the singer of the 1960s hits "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and "What the World Needs Now Is Love," as well as writing hits for others, such as "When You Walk in the Room" and "Betty Davis Eyes." She was very musical since she was a young child, hosting her own local radio show in Kentucky by the age of 11, and having her first single in 1956 at the age of 15. A long series of singles followed, nearly all of them flops. However, in early 1963, she had a minor hit with "Needles and Pins" in the US, though it was a number one hit in Canada.
Given that she already had spent eight years as a singles artist by 1963, what's strange is that this concert is fully acoustic, and almost all the songs she performs are traditional folk and blues songs. I had no idea DeShannon went through a phase where she was a full-on "folkie," but apparently she did that in 1963. That was the year she released her first studio album, simply called "Jackie DeShannon," and it was filled with folk songs, though it was given a mainstream glossy production. She claims she wanted to do an entire album of Bob Dylan covers, which would have been a bold move, because Dylan was just starting to break big in 1963. However, her record company nixed that idea, though she did get to put three Dylan covers on that album.
However, this concert is strange even given the fact that she released that folk album, because this concert occurred a few months after that album came out, and yet she played only one of the songs from it! She also didn't play any of her own songs, despite the fact that she already was a talented songwriter. (She would have a minor hit with her song "When You Walk in the Room" only a couple of months after this concert. The Searchers would have a much bigger hit with it a year after that.)
We're very lucky this concert was recorded at all. DeShannon didn't tour much, and I've never seen or heard of any concert bootleg from her until I came across this one. It exists because the Ash Grove, a folk music club in Los Angeles, recorded just about every concert in its club for years, going back to the early 1960s (though nearly all of those recordings remain unreleased). So not only does this recording exist, but it's a pristine soundboard! From 1963!
DeShannon was a very beautiful 22 year old at the time of this concert, as you can see from this album cover, but she wasn't just another pretty face. So it's no surprise to me that she plays these folk songs very well. She certainly would have excelled in this genre if she'd decided to continue with it. But the Beatles dominated the music world starting in early 1964, and she changed her style to catch the new trend. She even toured with the Beatles for a few months beginning in February 1964. Thus, her folkie phase probably lasted less than a year.
She played two sets in this one evening at the Ash Grove. She played a lot of the same songs in the two sets, and I'm not a fan of having the same song twice on the same album, so I haven't included the songs on the second set that are repeats from the first set. By eliminating the duplicates, this album turns out to be 43 minutes long, which would have been a fine album length for that era.
I also made big edits to two songs. The first song, "Key to the Highway," faded in partially through the song. I knew the song repeated the first verse as the last verse, so I copied the last verse back to restore the missing first verse. (That was a nice lucky break that the song repeats itself like that.) Also, the song "Trouble in Mind" is where her second set starts, and the recording had an announcer talk a lot over the intro to the song. So I found a section later in the song that repeated the intro, and i patched that in.
Note that Ry Cooder is also credited on this album. DeShannon was a capable guitar player herself, but she was accompanied for this concert by Cooder for the lead guitar parts, as well as David Cohen for some bass playing. At this time, Cooder's musical career was just starting and he was a total unknown, so I'm sure his name wouldn't have been on the billing. His participation is only significant in hindsight, thanks to his later successful career. But you can hear him playing some nice guitar solos here and there.
By the way, the one disappointment I have with this concert is that the last song fades out after less than a minute. And that's particularly unfortunate, because it's a cover of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," the only non-traditional song played at the concert. Plus, since it fades out, I don't know if there are other songs after it that didn't get recorded. Plus, the first song of the first set also fades in, so there could be more missing songs there. But we're damn lucky to at least have this much.
01 Key to the Highway [Edit] (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
02 talk (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
03 Frankie and Albert (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
04 talk (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
05 Silver City Bound (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
06 Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
07 Betty and Dupree (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
08 Black Eye Blues (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
09 James Alley Blues (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
10 talk (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
11 Ninety-Nine and a Half (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
12 talk (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
13 Mean Old Bed Bug Blues (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
14 Trouble in Mind (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
15 Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
16 The House of the Rising Sun (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
17 talk (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
18 Dink's Song [Fare Thee Well] (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
19 Don't Think Twice, It's All Right [Incomplete] (Jackie DeShannon with Ry Cooder)
I found it nearly impossible to find a good color photo of DeShannon from 1963 for the cover art. I had to resort to using a photo from her 1963 self-titled album.