Del Shannon

Story

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EMI Plus' budget-priced The Story series presents straightforward, no-frills compilations of major rock artists with catalogs in the EMI vaults, accompanied by CD-ROMs containing brief biographical information (in English, Dutch, French, and Spanish), discographies consisting of album titles and dates of release, and a photo gallery. The Del Shannon volume uses a simple selection and sequencing criterion. It contains the 16 recordings the singer/songwriter placed in the Billboard Hot 100 between 1961 and 1966, in chronological order, beefing the total up to 20 by including four B-sides. Sometimes, there isn't much distinction between the singles that made the chart and those that missed it; three of these titles only got into the 90s. But it's fair to say that even some of Shannon's relative disappointments could be successful elsewhere. He was particularly popular in England, where such songs as "So Long Baby," "Hey! Little Girl," "The Swiss Maid," and "Two Kind of Teardrops" made the Top Ten, much higher than their stateside rankings. The inclusion of the hits and the near-hits displays Shannon's various strategies for pop success following his chart-topping breakthrough success with "Runaway," a song that showed off his ability to break into a falsetto at will and included an instrumental break played by the high-pitched musitron. Both musical elements turn up in subsequent efforts. Shannon was the first American to chart with a Beatles song, "From Me to You," and he did it long before the group conquered the U.S. His version copies their arrangement, adding his trademark falsetto. In the U.K., the single was turned over, and the B-side, "Two Silhouettes," included here, gave him a Top 40 hit. There have been many Shannon compilations, but this one includes all the hits, and that's a valuable quality in a collection.

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