This lovingly researched two-disc anthology from archival specialists the Numero Group chronicles the remarkable career of Jackie Shane, an American singer who became a leading light of Toronto's 1960s soul and R&B scene. Heralded for her dynamic stage presence and voice that often drew comparisons to Little Richard and James Brown, Shane was also an early advocate for transgender and LGBTQ rights in an unforgiving social climate. Raised in Nashville, by the age of 13 she had already come to recognize herself as a woman living in a man's body, and while she wouldn't officially come out as transgender until many years later, Shane effectively lived as a woman on- and off-stage. In her late teens, she pursued a music career that led from choirs and gospel groups to drumming in R&B bands, and, for a short time, touring with a carnival show. Escaping the tumult of the Jim Crow South, Shane ended up in Montreal, where she was discovered by another American expat, Frank Motley. As the singer for Motley's band, she eventually settled in Toronto where, during the early '60s, she enjoyed regional success and recognition both as part of Motley's crew and as a revered solo act. A charismatic performer, sharply dressed in suits and seemingly made up in drag, no one in 1960s Canada had seen or heard anything like Shane. Her enigmatic presentation, her undeniable talent, and the support of the music community allowed her to flourish in Toronto, and by the middle of the decade she had cut a number of singles, landing a regional hit with 1963's excellent "Any Other Way." When the song was later reissued and became a modest national hit in 1967, a live release called Jackie Shane Live was released. By 1971, her working relationship with Motley had soured and, weary from years of gigging and enduring the hardships of existing as a transgendered person in show business, Shane left the music industry altogether. While no studio album was ever recorded, her various singles and B-sides have gone on to become collector's items, with a cult fandom that has grown in the years since her retirement. Included here are all of Shane's singles along with the live LP, her lone full-length release. The performances are vibrant and full of personality, heartbreak, and spirit. While a handful of reissues have surfaced in the digital era, Any Other Way marks the first time Shane herself was involved with the process, and the collection's lengthy liner notes are generous with her reflections and anecdotes. Shane's is a story unlike any other, and in the years leading up to this release she has slowly come to be recognized both as a musician and as a pioneer of Toronto's LGBTQ community. With this release, her brief but potent catalog continues to garner some well-deserved attention.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2