Tuesday, 20 April 2021
Del Shannon: The Jeff Lynne Connection
#1,583: Mention the name Del Shannon and many ELO fans will most likely think of his posthumous 1991 album "Rock On!" (UK: Silvertone Records #ORELP514) which was (of course) produced between Jeff Lynne and Mike Campbell with lead single "Walk Away" co-written by Del with Jeff and Tom Petty. Most of the album was already recorded before Del passed away in February 1990 but "Rock On!" was successful in not only bringing his name back into the limelight, it also introduced Del to a whole new generation of admirers particularly when taking into account the high probability that he would have officially joined the ranks of The Traveling Wilburys (who went on to record/release his worldwide #1 smash hit "Runaway" during the "Volume 3" sessions in tribute to Del) following the tragic death of Roy Orbison. Yet the connections between Del and Electric Light Orchestra maestro Jeff Lynne are even deeper than their shared birthdate of 30th December (Del was born in 1934 with Jeff following in 1947) not forgetting that Del is credited with backing vox for "Blown Away" on "Armchair Theatre" LP and that the 2001 expanded edition of ELO's "Discovery" album included a nice cover of "Little Town Flirt".
However, Del Shannon and Jeff Lynne had a working relationship going back as far back as the sessions at his Cherokee Ranch studio in the latter half of both 1973 and 1974 which produced a trio of songs known as The Dead Set ("Alive But I'm Dead"; "Deadly Game"; "Distant Ghost") plus a number of other songs that were either co-written by the two and/or initially involved the production skills of Jeff and at times the rhythm section of ELO. Of particular interest is the fruit of those sessions including the 1975 US single "Cry Baby Cry" (Island #IS-038) and "Ghost", the flip side to the 1974 Australian single "Oh, How Happy" (Interfusion #K-5439) which was reissued in 1984 as "Distant Ghost" (Raven Records #RVS-04) interestingly citing the artiste as Del Shannon (with Electric Light Orchestra). "Distant Ghost" was finally released in the UK as the flip side to the 1983 single "Cheap Love" (Demon Records #D1017). Might we also suggest that you have a listen to "Raylene" via YouTube? Most of the songs in question (in one form or another) can be found in three albums: "Del Shannon: A Complete Career Anthology 1961-1990" (Raven Records; 1998), "Runaway: The Very Best of Del Shannon" (Universal Music; 2010) and/or "The Dublin Sessions" (RockBeat Records; 2017).
The above ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) tabulation (hopefully) lists the songs that came out of the aforementioned sessions and details their release history - be they as original or later (sometimes live) recordings - and where they can be found. Further info can be found via Del's official website at delshannon.com and/or Robert Porter's excellent Jeff Lynne Song Database. Yours Truly KJS is of the opinion that Del Shannon will always be a musician and an artiste worthy of mentioning in the same breath as the Greats.
Related KJS/ELOBF articles
ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends Del Shannon (Official Website) and the Jeff Lynne Song Database to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, The Move, 'Brum Beat', The Beatles and related artistes.
*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... 20-Apr-2021 ***