Previously unreleased album by Del Shannon, of ‘Runaway’ fame, finally gets a release


This week, I’m reviewing a sought-after album by Del Shannon as well as two new releases from artists who are new to me. Enjoy!

‘The Dublin Sessions,’ Del Shannon (RockBeat Records, 1/2)

This July 7 CD release contains an unreleased 1977 Del Shannon album recorded in Dublin with his UK touring band, “Smackee.” Del, famous for “Runaway” plus other greats such as “Hats Off to Larry,” could never arrive at a mix of the album he was satisfied with.

His supporting players, lead guitarist Michael Smitham, keyboardist Barry Walker, bassist Trevor Hilton and drummer Kevin Connolly provide cool backing vocals and were amazed at the talent of lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist/songwriter Del.

Late-1970s production touches and over-emphasis on ballads make things drag occasionally, but highlights such as “Till I Found You,” “Raylene” (featuring Del’s trademark high chorus vocals) and a faithful cover of “Black Is Black” show that Shannon wasn’t content to just play old hits and wanted to continue creating.

Del Shannon fans will want to snag this one.

‘Under Blue Skies,’ Calico the Band (California Country Records LLC,)

This July 21 CD release, which is likely available in other forms, comes from singer/songwriters Manda Mosher and Kirsten Proffit, known collectively as Calico the Band. They’re supported by their rhythm section (bassist Ted Kamp and drummer Matt Lucich) along with Greg Leisz/pedal steel, Neal Casal/electric 12-string, Patrick Warren/keyboards and Kaitlin Wolfberg.

The jangling “Fine Line” is a great opener featuring wonderful harmonies. Some other highlights include a steel-drenched “The 405,” another 12-string stunner, “Roll Away The Stone,” the somewhat-sorrowful “Free Man” and the gorgeous “Fly Me Away.”

Fans of harmony singing and catchy folk-rock tunes will enjoy this collection.

‘The Marrying Kind,’ Swearingen and Kelly (Independent Release)

This July 21 release comes from an “Americana husband-and-wife duo,” AJ Swearingen and Jayne Kelli.

It is their sophomore release, and is certainly part of the mostly-meaningless Americana genre. However, there’s no info about supporting players present.

My favorite tunes of this more-subdued bunch include the Jayne-sung title song, the harmony-heavy “Why Wait (On A Good Thing)” and the resigned-sounding “Complicated” (which isn’t the early Avril Lavigne song).

This release isn’t quite as catchy as the one above, but is rewarding to listen to.

Upcoming Columns

Over the next few weeks, I will publish reviews of the full John Mellencamp featuring Carlene Carter album released back in April, an album I promised to review but haven’t gotten to yet by Professor Louie and the Crowmatics, a new album from Mary Bragg and a possible “Best of 2017 So Far” list.

Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com