The first of two albums on Atlantic records for the singer with an immaculate voice, Jackie was produced by Arif Mardin, Tom Dowd, and Jerry Wexler, one less producer than her What the World Needs Now Is Love album had helping craft the sounds. The festivities start off with John Prine's song "Paradise," a folksy title, not to be confused with the Perry Botkin, Jr./Harry Nilsson/Gil Garfield tune that Bette Midler and the Ronettes covered as the Jackie album tends to stay in an interesting space that could be described as "adult contemporary folk." "Vanilla 'Olay" moves brightly, a rare spirited pop vocal which is one of four compositions by the singer/songwriter here, two-thirds of the 12 selections coming from a dizzying array of songwriters. John Hurley and Ron Wilkins' "Heavy Burdens Me Down" is a beautiful gospel number, and the version of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" is one of the album's highlights. It certainly is interesting hearing someone with a traditional voice putting some polish on a Neil Young staple. This album is as smooth and dreamy as Dusty Springfield's Cameo, though the three producers don't let the singer break out of the controlled mood they've set. DeShannon's original "Laid Back Days" tries to escape those confines, and "Vanilla 'Olay" actually does, John Stewart's xylophone bringing the latter to another level. Steve Goodman's "Would You Like to Learn to Dance" has ace Bee Gees co-producer Albhy Galuten adding a distinguished harpsichord -- it really is special, and what the album cries out for is one of those extraordinary songs that the Bee Gees gave to so many artists, from Samantha Sang to Dionne Warwick and Rare Earth. Galuten could have made this very good album even better had he contributed his production skills. Cissy Houston adds some magic to the Donna Weiss/Mary Unobsky composition "I Won't Try to Put Chains on Your Soul," more gospel-pop which is another notable track here. Weiss would of course go on to co-write "Bette Davis Eyes" with DeShannon when the singer moved on to Columbia records for the adult contemporary album New Arrangement. Unlike the string of albums on Imperial where this extraordinary talent got to try new things and get into a groove, this '70s period has work spread across multiple labels, and as the music changed hands the sounds took bigger leaps than they might have had all this activity progressed under a single record company umbrella. Van Morrison's "I Wanna Roo You" works, as do the two Jackie DeShannon originals that conclude the album, "Peaceful in My Soul" and "Anna Karina." DeShannon plays acoustic guitar on "Anna Karina," "Laid Back Days," "Vanilla 'Olay," and "I Wanna Roo You," adding her personality to the musical mix. Jackie is an interesting and worthwhile collection of 12 songs falling stylistically somewhere between her albums What the World Needs Now Is Love from the '60s and You Know Me from the '90s. Her voice is in great shape, and the music is created with loving care, making for a satisfying chapter in the singer's impressive body of work.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione