Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: 'Del Shannon: The Essential Collection 1961-1991'

 
Though Del Shannon only managed two top ten hits in his home country, he scored a far more impressive eight in the UK. So it is appropriate that Britain’s Music Club Deluxe Records has put together one of the most comprehensive anthologies of his decades-spanning body of work. The transcendent “Runaway” naturally gets things underway, and is immediately followed by the excellent “Hats Off to Larry,” which is his second best known record in the States. For we Americans, much of the remainder of The Essential Collection 1961-1991 is a trove of treasures screaming to be heard for the first time.

Disc one, which houses all of the US and UK hits, is actually somewhat hit-and-miss. When Shannon had great material, such as the aforementioned hits or lesser-known wonders such as his non-hit his version of his own composition “I Go to Pieces” (a big hit for Pete and Gordon), he could do no wrong. But some of this stuff is middling doo-wop that highlights the limitations of his voice in the days before he became a consistently confident singer. On disc two, he stretches beyond the falsetto and musitron (the eerie keyboard showcased on “Runaway”) formula of his early hits to embrace garage rock, baroque pop, psychedelia, and country pop. Although these recordings aren’t always amazing —his covers of “Under My Thumb” and The Box Tops’ “The Letter” stick too close to the originals to be much more than redundant—they are consistently good. Much of this, such as the four recordings culled from 1967 sessions produced by Andrew Oldham (including a baroque-pop remake of “Runaway”) and the two tracks pulled from his vastly underrated psychedelic opus The Further Adventures of Charles Westover, are superb. Shannon had a lot more than “Runaway” in his arsenal. The Essential Collection 1961-1991 is positive proof of that.

Get Del Shannon: The Essential Collection 1961-1991 at Amazon.com here. 

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