The Dublin Sessions
You know the story: a young man moonlights in music, makes a few fortuitous connections, and a record is born. Something clicks, and a week later he’s top of the pops and everything is downhill from there. Del Shannon (born Charles Weed on Westover) fits this exact bill: He hit those high falsetto notes we associate with music of a certain era, and while his career continued on until his death in 1990, nothing ever came close to the success of his “Little Runaway.”
In 1977 Shannon toured the UK and laid down this collection of tunes in Dublin. There was a remix in California but it was never released until now. While Shannon wasn’t happy with the project, I enjoyed this clean, professional sound and this slightly dated collection of love songs and laments. Top track “Best Days of My life” reminisces about cruising the boulevard and picking up women in a hot car. Drums and a solid bass give this a bit of a military march feeling, but it’s a march thought valley of the best days of your life. “Love Letters” gets personal; Shannon’s voice hits some high notes over a chorus of female vocals and sparks things up with the occasional key change. I agree with him that the mix here isn’t quite right; his voice isn’t exactly front and center, but if a decent recording engineer had all the original tracks this could be a hit again today.
Shannon’s heavily modified synthesizer (he called it a “Musitron”) lurks on all the tracks; it’s the prominent opening sound in “One Track Mind.” Now that synthetic sound is everywhere, it’s hard to imagine just how cool this sounded in the ’60s. Next Shannon tosses off a number of decent covers including Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman,” Los Bravos “Black is Black” and even Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again” grace this disc. If you’re an oldies fan this is a real find and even if you’re not, it’s a well-mixed collection of classic rock love songs. And who doesn’t need some rock and roll lovin’ from time to time?