In 1977, radio listeners switching the dial might've thought they heard a "Say You Love Me"-like tune by Christine McVie. It was Jackie DeShannon performing her original composition "Don't Let the Flame Burn Out" from her album You're the Only Dancer. Producer Jim Ed Norman puts her in a Jackson Browne/James Taylor setting, far removed from her work with Burt Bacharach, Helen Reddy producer Joe Wissert, and the late Jack Nitzsche. Norman puts the sweet sterling voice atop songs that the Eagles could have written, "Your Love Has Got a Hold on Me," for example. DeShannon co-wrote that tune with Dean MacDougall, and it sounds tailor-made for country radio. DeShannon covers Hugh Prestwood's "Dorothy" -- yet another Wizard of Oz-inspired tune -- Larry Gatlin's "Try to Win a Friend," and even the Parker McGee/Steve Gibson song "I Just Can't Say No to You." Anything Jackie DeShannon touches always has a touch of class, and her interpretation of the Bee Gees' classic "To Love Somebody" is listenable, it just isn't as inviting as her own material, like "Tonight You're Doin' It Right," which closes out this LP. Without the adult contemporary gloss of Randy Edelman producer Michael Stewart, so essential to DeShannon's 1975 release, New Arrangement, DeShannon sounds like she's having fun experimenting with the sparse West Coast feel of this disc. You're the Only Dancer is not the best Jackie Deshannon, but it is an important chapter in her legacy.
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