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In an era where good looking boys were given Brill Building songs to record and sing, Del Shannon broke the mold, carving a new path with a hit formula that included his trademark falsetto, a high pitched organ, and a handful of emotional songs that featured paranoia, despair, and loss.
Beginning his career in 1961, armed with musitron-laden hits like “Runaway,” “Hats Off To Larry,” and “So Long Baby,” he changed gear in ‘62/’63 with rolling guitar-work and female supporting vocalists in “Little Town Flirt” and “Two Kind of Teardrops.” As self-contained bands became the rage in ‘64 and ‘65, Shannon quickly adapted, utilizing The Royaltones from Detroit on the self-penned “Keep Searchin’’’ and “Stranger In Town.” He also wrote “I Go To Pieces” which Peter & Gordon took into the Top 10.
When Shannon relocated to California in 1966, he looked again to reinvent himself. He tried various producers to find a new groove which eventually came in ‘67 via Rolling Stones’ producer Andrew Oldham. The result was a stunning 11-track album of British baroque that utilized Oldham’s arsenal of artists to fully support Shannon. Del was creating what would later be seen as a period piece in the cream of what was going on in London at the time. In 1968, Del was encouraged to go another direction, the result this time being a full-blown psych album entitled The Further Adventures of Charles Westover which featured some great but lesser known songs like “Silver Birch” and “Gemini.”
By 1969 Del stayed competitive behind the producer’s chair. He teamed up with the much younger Brian Hyland, co-writing such gems as “Comin’ Back To Me,” “Sister Isabelle,” and “Could You Dig It.” They wrote “Go Go Girl” for Beth Moore, “How Can I Tell You” for Barbara Lewis, and “I’ve Got Eyes For You” for Waylon Jennings.
In 1973 Shannon collaborated with ELO’s Jeff Lynne on songs like “Cry Baby Cry,” “Deadly Game,” and “Distant Ghost.” In the early ‘80s, Shannon teamed up with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers which again gave him a new sound and returned him to the charts with “Sea of Love.” Del detoured to Nashville in ‘85 to record some country sides for Warner Brothers. One release, “In My Arms Again,” made the country charts at #56. Juice Newton took Shannon’s composition of “Cheap Love” into the Top 10 country charts in 1987.
In ‘89, Shannon found himself again working with Petty and Lynne for what would become his last album titled Rock On! They wrote “Walk Away” together and each appeared on one another’s albums at the time. Del’s final composition was titled “Songwriter.” It wasn’t quite finished at the time of his death, but may have summed up a lot of what he may have been feeling at the time. “Songwriter, take out your pen, write me the words, so I can live again…” Shannon was a songwriter to the end. Either he experienced such tragic pain and loneliness, or was a masterful songwriter...maybe a little bit of both.
—Brian Young, delshannon.com
1. Drop Down And Get Me (Del Shannon) KELLEY RYAN with Kym Wilkerson & Jody Westover Kelley Ryan (MainVox and all music) Kym Wilkerson and Jody Westover (BGVox) Recorded at ‘the Basement’ in L.A. Produced by Kelley Ryan I respect and love Del as a musician and as a friend. He is a huge influence on my life in many ways. I chose to cover “Drop Down and Get Me” because it beautifully showcases his songwriting talent for expressing love, longing, and the feeling of desperation (when it doesn’t work out) in a most original way. The first and second verses explore these emotions in very human terms, and then the third verse finds him begging for an alien space ship to drop down and take him away from all the pain of his broken heart. I just love this song. Singing with me are his daughters, Jody and Kym, so it is especially meaningful to me. I miss having him in my life today, but I am glad, at least, to be able to listen to his body of music and remember his power. Artist Bio: Allstar Magazine described Kelley Ryan as “a one-woman, multi-tracking wiz-kid who constructs infectious pop melodies from the rawest of materials.” Beginning in 1996, she wrote and recorded 5 CDs under the name ‘astroPuppees,’ and recently two more under her own name. Kelley’s latest, “COCKTAILS,” came out in late 2012. Her songs have also appeared in numerous films and TV shows.
2. Runaway (Del Shannon/Max Crook) RANDY BACHMAN Randy Bachman: Vocals & Guitars Tal Bachman: Keyboards & Drums Produced by Randy Bachman Recorded at The Barn Studios, Saltspring Island, B.C. Canada Engineer: Andy Bowmer Runaway has always been a standout song on radio and live performances. When I was asked to contribute to a Del Shannon tribute project I jokingly said, “I’m in but ONLY if I can do Runaway.” They said yes! So my task was to try to re-invent the song rather than just replicate it because I felt no one could surpass Del’s vocals, and no instrument could out do the clavioline (or whatever it is) that played the solo. It also amazed me that there is only one verse. This is my first attempt to record “Runaway” and I’m very pleased with it. A few years ago I redid “Runaway” in a jazzier style with Duke Robillard, Jay Geils, and Gerry Beaudoin, aka “The New Guitar Summit.” Del was a big influence on myself and thousands of other musicians, and I’m proud to contribute to this project. Artist Bio: Randy Bachman has become a legendary figure in the rock and roll world through his talents as a guitarist, songwriter, performer and producer. He has earned over 120 gold and platinum album/single awards around the world for performing and producing. His songwriting has garnered him the coveted #1 spot on radio play lists in over 20 countries, and he has amassed over 40 million records sold.
3. Sister Isabelle (Del Shannon/Brian Hyland) FRANK BLACK Frank Black: Guitar & Vocals Morris Tepper: Keys Eric Feldman: Drums Dave Phillips: Bass For me Del Shannon is as connected to his music as any performer could ever hope to be. His balance of pathos and awe gives him mystic status. Artist Bio: Frank’s solo career has been longer and provided far more diversity, musically speaking, than his career with the Pixies. From “Show Me Your Tears,” his latest album, all the way back to his original self-titled “Orange” album, he’s gone from multi-tracked new-wave mayhem, to classic rock, to a distinctive country twang live, to two-track. Through every transition, one thing has remained consistent: the quality of the work.
4. The House Where Nobody Lives (Del Shannon) MARSHALL CRENSHAW Marshall Crenshaw: All vocals & Instruments Produced by Marshall Crenshaw Del had such a powerful presence on his records, and he created and sang some of the best Rock songs ever . . .a big list of them. A true artist for the ages. I wish that he was still around. Artist Bio: A quote from Trouser Press sums up Marshall Crenshaw’s career: “Although he was seen as a latter-day Buddy Holly at the outset, he soon proved too talented and original to be anyone but himself.”
5. Restless (Del Shannon/Dan Bourgoise) DAVE SMALLEY Dave Smalley: Lead vocal and bass Jesse Benenati: Drums and percussion Paul Haaker: Steel guitar Larry Bustamonte: Lead electric guitar Eddie Montana: Rhythm electric guitar Brian Barham: Piano Phil Holden and Steve Nieves: Background vocals Recorded @: Legend Star Recording Studio Produced By Steve Boyer Engineered by Robert Rhyu Growing up in the ‘60s, I was a big fan of Del’s music—can’t forget that falsetto, and great songs that always bring back super memories! I’m honored to be part of this project, and hope “Restless” makes Del smile! Artist Bio: A member of the 1960s Cleveland band, The Choir, who had a regional hit with “It’s Cold Outside.” Dave was a bass player, writer and vocalist with Raspberries who scored a top ten hit with “Go All The Way.” In 2003 he released a solo effort, Internal Monologue, that includes Del Shannon’s song “Restless.”
6. You Still Live Here (Del Shannon) MARTI JONES Marti Jones: Vocals Kelley Ryan, Marti Jones – All instruments Recorded @ the Piggery Produced By Kelley Ryan Del Shannon had an incredible voice. “You Still Live Here” was written and originally recorded by Del in Nashville for a short-lived record. The label released two singles from the LP and then never put it out. Dan Bourgoise played this virtually unheard song for me and I loved it. It’s written by a great singer for someone who sings. It has a country flavor... More like old cowboy country. Artist Bio: Marti Jones signed with A&M Records in 1983 and released a string of acclaimed LPs throughout that decade. After making one record for RCA in 1991, she left the music business and began to concentrate on painting. She returned to singing in 1995 when she signed with Sugar Hill. Currently working on her eighth solo album, she now strikes a balance between painting and singing.
7. Silver Birch (Del Shannon/Jonathan Perkins) NASH KATO Nash Kato: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar Jay O’Rourke: Lead Guitar, Bass Jimmy Madla: Percussion Arranged by Nash Kato Produced/Mixed by Jay O’Rourke Engineered by Mike Konopka Recorded @ TimeWarp Studios Has it ever been OVERstated that Del Shannon remains one of our world’s GREAT 20th Century American icons? Hardly (or moreover, SADLY?). Thusly, I was honored/humbled when MY services were dispatched to participate in such a LONG overdue homage to his much disparaged legacy. This track I selected from Del’s tireless catalog was from 5/6 apparent B-sides compiled on a “cassette” by Patrick Potts (a menu he felt might cater to my more esoteric taste?). I was lured at once by such a morbidly barren musical/lyrical landscape as this, and added only a few flourishes (which in turn catered to MY more musical/lyrical limitations). I harbor but ONE regret; that being I’ve never heard Shannon’s original version SINCE? It’s all but impossible to find ANYwhere these days (& grievously ALL cassettes meet their cryptic death with great certainty) Thank you Del/Patrick for the opportunity of a lifetime!! ~NK Artist Bio: Nash Kato co-founded Urge Overkill in 1984. They are currently recording their 7th album (including fellow co-founder, King Roeser). An authorized biography spanning the band’s 30-year career is due in bookstores by Xmas 2014.
8. Keep Searchin’ (Del Shannon) CARLA OLSON & PETER CASE Peter Case: vocals, lead and rhythm electric guitars Carla Olson: vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar Barry Goldberg: Hammond B3 organ Tony Marsico: bass guitar Rick Hemmert: drums Produced by Carla Olson Mixed by Mikal Reid Del Shannon — the name itself sings. Del Shannon — big bright clear, one of a kind and instantly recognizable from the first note. Del Shannon — the first major star that my band, the Textones, opened for. He said he liked our “jangly 12-strings.” CO Artists Bios: Carla Olson: co-founded the all-girl punk band the Violators with Kathy Valentine; moved to Los Angeles in 1979; co-founded the Textones with Kathy Valentine; released a few singles with the Textones on IRS; appeared in Bob Dylan’s 1983 video “Sweetheart Like You”; released the 1984 album Midnight Mission with the Textones; So Rebellious a Lover with Gene Clark (1987); Cedar Creek with the Textones (1987); Carla Olson (1988); Too Hot for Snakes with Mick Taylor (1991); Within an Ace (1993); Reap the Whirlwind (1994); The Ring of Truth (2001). Peter Case is a multi-Grammy nominated American singer-songwriter and guitarist, who has had a wide-ranging career ranging from new wave music to folk rock to solo acoustic performance.
9. I Got You (Del Shannon) BRITANNICAS Herb Eimerman (USA): lead vocals, bass, acoustic guitar Joe Algeri (AUST): drums, keys, backing vocals, tambourine Magnus Karlsson (SWEDEN) : electric guitar Recorded @ respective home studios around the world Mixed and produced by: Joe Algeri Del seems like an enigma to us: known yet seemingly unknown, loved yet wholly unloved. His enormous body of music truly deserves to heard and appreciated. Long live Del. Band Bio: Perhaps more commonplace now, but back in the mid-2000s the Britannicas were pioneers of the transcontinental cyber-band; a recording project by the three multi-instrumentalists and songwriters in three separate parts of the world. International pop supreme!
10. I Go To Pieces (Del Shannon) THE DRYSDALES Patrick Potts: Lead vocals, Guitar Steve Potts: Drums, Harmony Vocals Ron Fox: Lead Guitar, Harmony Vocals Scott McCarl: Bass, Harmony Vocals Evan Fox, Callie Potts, Taylor Potts, Clancy Potts, Maddy Potts: Clap Tracks Recorded @ TimeWarp Studios, Chicago Engineered by Mike Konopka Produced by Mike Konopka & Ron Fox I have been a Del freak/fanatic for as long as I can remember. When I got older and started to look for his other work (besides the always available many greatest hits packages), I found some cool old 45s, then some albums, and I started to realize there was much more to Del than the hits. I went for a few years listening to nothing but Del Shannon. It became all or nothing. I had to have it all. The more I dug, the more I was hooked. Now there is no turning back. This album is a chance to hear Del’s songwriting spun by many different personalities and styles, but no matter who or how it’s recorded, it’s still Del shining thru . . .always has been....PP Band Bio: The Drysdales are a Chicago based rock band formed in 1999 and still rocking and recording today. Their recent album, “Dakota,” has been certified Pewter.
11. Move It On Over (Del Shannon/Dennis Coffey) StayStillPills Clany Potts: lead vocals Mick Hayes: vocals, guitar, bass Randy McSavage: Drums Recorded @ The Sound Laboratory, Cloyne County Cork, Ireland. Produced By Ciaran O’Shea Both Clancy and Mick grew up heavily influenced by sixties infused rock n’ roll and in particular Del Shannon. There was always a certain rawness and energy in Del’s music that StayStillPills can relate to and we were really excited about the opportunity to participate in this tribute. For StayStillPills, ‘Move It On Over’ was the obvious song choice with its blistering guitar riff and overall garage feel. Del Shannon was the quintessential rocker and we really do hope our version has done the original the justice it deserves. Rock On! Band Bio: StayStillPills are an Irish/American band fronted by husband and wife Mick and Clancy and are based in Ballycotton, Ireland.
12. So Long Baby (Del Shannon) JOE G & THE ZIPPITY DOO WOP BAND featuring MAX CROOK Joe Glickman: Vocals, Guitars, Electric Bass, Piano, Humazoo, Tympani, Marimba, Tambourine Max Crook: Musitron Walter Eaton (The Classics IV): “Spooky” whistle Bob Halek: Drums Pete Toigo: Upright Bass Brian Patneaude: Tenor & Baritone Sax Richard Uhl: Bass Sax Engineered by Sean Flynn & Joe Glickman Produced, Arranged & Mixed by Joe Glickman Recorded at Spirit 11 Studios & The Echo Chamber Overdubs in Jacksonville, FL & Deming, NM I can’t remember loving a song before I heard “Runaway.” It was so dramatic and melodic. I couldn’t have enough of it. The haunting melodies on many of his tracks really complimented the lyrics. THAT is what really hooked me. I feel like I relate to the pain and angst in his music. It’s as if Del was writing those songs about me...Because of that, I’m a fan for life and believe his spirit lives on in his music, and in turn, lives on within me. Artist Bio: Joe has been singing and playing guitar since he was only 13-years-old. Glickman and his group, The Zippity Doo Wop Band, recorded a cover of “So Long Baby” featuring Del Shannon’s right-hand man, Max Crook, the co-writer and keyboardist on Del Shannon’s “Runaway,” “Hats Off To Larry,” the original “So Long Baby,” and other hits. To promote the record, Glickman filmed an elaborate music video in Upstate, NY and Del’s hometown of Coopersville, Michigan. Over the years, Joe has performed with numerous oldies acts, including Dennis Yost of the original Classics IV, Sha Na Na’s Bowzer, The Diamonds’ Dave Somerville and Mark Volman of The Turtles. In April of 2012, “So Long Baby” was named one of YouTube’s Top 10 Music Videos.
13. Over You (Del Shannon) RICHARD SNOW Richard Snow: Vocals, 12 & 6 string guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and percussion Studio Recorded @ Richards home studio Produced By Richard Snow I discovered Del Shannon by playing through my Mum’s old records when I was a small boy. Being born in the ‘70s I didn’t hear of him at the height of his fame or even know what he looked like for years, but I was knocked out by the sound of those few 45s. So as a teenager I sought out ALL his records. “Stranger in Town/Over You” was always a big fave of mine. Both sides are so good I wasn’t sure for a long time which was the A side. I chose to record “Over You” because I think it’s such a beautiful song that is often overlooked. I could never sing it as well as Del, but I hope everyone enjoys my spin on it. Artist Bio: Richard Snow is a singer-songwriter from Nottingham, UK who sings, plays guitar, keyboards, bass and percussion. His influences are The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Beatles, Del Shannon and R.E.M. A former member of the new wave/post-punk ‘90s band, Enellen, Snow has also worked as a recording engineer. It was during this time that he learned how to make top-notch, professional-quality recordings, an experience that would later become indispensable in making his own albums. Having made two solo albums (Richard Snow and Tuesday Music), he released a third with his new band, The Inlaws, in 2011 entitled Am I really That Boring including the Del Shannon influenced “21st Century.” Richard and his band the Inlaws have been a live favorite among power pop fans since forming in 2005 which saw them share the stage with Snow Patrol and the Posies.
14. Hats Off To Larry (Del Shannon) THE RUBINOOS Jon Rubin: vocals Tommy Dunbar: guitar and keys Al Chan: bass Nick D’Virgilio: drums Marvin McFadden: trumpet Rene Jenkins: trombone Johnnie Bamont: baritone sax Alex Murzyn: tenor sax Recorded @ Lawnmower and Garden Supply, Pasadena, CA Additional Recording: Mole Man Studio, Sacramento, CA Engineered by: Michael (Palm Tree) Johnson Produced by: The Rubinoos “Hats Off To Larry” was one of the first songs we ever learned as a band back in 1970! We can still see that pink Big Top label spinning around! Band Bio: The Rubinoos are a pop band from Berkeley, California, formed in 1970 and still at it!
15. Kelly (Del Shannon/Maron McKenzie) OVERLORD George Pasles: guitar, lead and backing vocals Jon Robb: bass David Finzimer: drums Recorded @ Mark Rutkowski’s IMM Studios, Warminster PA Produced By George Pasles Like many of my contemporaries, I first experienced Del Shannon through his stirring remake of “Runaway” in the opening credits to the ‘80s television drama Crime Story. It was love at first falsetto. While I enjoyed his assorted ‘Best-Of’ albums, my affection for Del reached its zenith when I discovered “The Further Adventures of Charles Westover,” one of the great lost albums of the 1960s. Whatever you do: go find it! A great artist, an unparalleled voice, a true inspiration. He is missed.” GP Band Bio: Formerly of Philadelphia and now in Brooklyn, the all-new, all-different Overlord is currently recording its eighth album, “The Well-Tempered Overlord.”
16.Distant Ghost (Del Shannon) DON DIXON Dixon played everything except drums which were played by Jim Brock Recorded and mixed at SPA, drums recorded at Fidelitorium Produced By: Don Dixon Like many people born in the early ‘50s, I remember seeing Del perform his hit “Runaway” on TV. When Bonnie Raitt recorded his song decades later, it caused me to delve deeper into his work and discover the true depth of his talent as a songwriter and singer. I was fortunate to work with Del once. He sang on Green Thoughts, a Smithereens album I produced, but I wish I had gotten the chance to know him better. A remarkable talent Artist Bio: As a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and occasional actor, Don Dixon has performed extensively across the U.S. and Europe, recording 12 solo albums and producing hit records for R.E.M and The Smithereens. His songs have been recorded by Joe Cocker, Hootie & the Blowfish, Counting Crows, Marti Jones and Ronnie Spector.