Philips 1968 / Gonzo 2017
Irish songstress’ stellar hour – expanded and enriched to add colors to her talent.
Were she as prolific as fellow dames Dusty and Shirley, Jackie Lee – known as Jacky back in the ’60s – we would have mentioned her name with the same reverence today, yet after a series of 45s, issued between 1955 and 1973, the singer retired due to throat problems. Heard on classics as diverse as Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Release Me” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” – which entered the charts in 1967 – Lee remains an indelible part of pop music’s DNA, her own career peaking the following year with a Top 10 single “White Horses” that came from a children’s TV programme to spearhead the artist’s debut, and penultimate, LP, ripe for rediscovery now.
There’s a great richness about Jackie’s voice, even though Lee doesn’t resort to overtly impressive vocal inflections to adorn a song in needless tinsel – that’s why these tapes ooze innocence and charm – but “I Can Sing A Rainbow” brings it all home after the stereo title track has wrapped her warm delivery in woodwind and caressed it with acoustic guitar. Done in the same vein, “I Think I Like You” is timelessly deep, while pieces such as “Too Many Chiefs (Not Enough Indians)” or “We’re Off And Running” are playful… yet she could be classy, too, as illustrated by the panache of “Things I Don’t Mean” with Dudley Moore on ivories. This reissue may have docked a couple cuts from the album in order to expand Lee’s profile by including her personal favorites, among them standards like “The End Of The World” and “The Loco-Motion” – the latter one of a handful pieces by THE RAINDROPS, a quartet Jackie was in – through which her personality shines ever so bright.
The artist’s optimism fills the orchestral sway and celestial harmonies of “I Cry Alone” and the violin-elevated sadness of “The Busker” that is the only remnant of an album she laid down with famed score composer Christopher Gunning, albeit the most surprising is its boisterous bent into boogie for “Here I Go Again” and rhythm-and-blues for “There Goes The Lucky One”: and that could be the singer’s motto, because for all these track’s dated production they stood the test of time to be as entertaining as they were decades ago. Still here today, Jackie Lee deserves to be remembered.