Me About You/To Be Free
Collector's Choice, 2009
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/08/2009
Jackie DeShannon toured with The Beatles, dated Jimmy Page, and hung out with Elvis. She also has placed sixteen singles on the Billboard Magazine charts and released over twenty studio albums. Her original compositions have been recorded by many artists, and in 1982, “Bette Davis Eyes” won her 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, since 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 DeShannon 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 the songwriters of the day for her material; she only wrote three of the tracks on this disc.
Her vocal style was fully developed by the time she recorded this album. She still had purity to her style, but added an ability to provide passion and emotion as well.
She recorded three songs by the songwriting team 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 here. She takes the old Four Tops tune “I’ll Turn To Stone” in a pop direction. Two Tim Hardin tracks, “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. DeShannon mostly leaves the cover songs behind and writes or co-writes eight of the 11 tracks on the disc. She also is backed by a number of background singers in places, which helps 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, leaving the simplicity of many 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.”
The pairing of Me About You and To Be Free is a nice slice of late ‘60s, early ‘70s pop music by an artist who is often ignored. This one is a keeper.