Linda Ronstadt- Tim Easton- Jackie DeShannon

This time out our spotlight on vinyl spins Linda Ronstadt's first Spanish language album, two reissues from Tim Easton and an early work from Jackie DeShannon.

Linda Ronstadt - Canciones de mi Padre - (Iconic Artists Group)

Tucson, Arizona native Linda Ronstadt honors her Mexican heritage here with 13 tracks made famous by Mexican mariachi bands and four of the genre's biggest accompany her: Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano, Mariachi Los Galleros de Pedro Rey and Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez. Ronstadt's voice is immediately recognizable on this her first Spanish language release (its success inspired her to do others) and her emotional vocals make these selections as appealing as her pop hits. The album's insert has each song's lyrics in Spanish, and there's a translation to English too, so non-Spanish speakers can understand what each song is about. Sometimes the translation is not needed, as in the slow and gently orchestrated "Por Un Amor" ("For a Love") where the aching for a lover is palpable in Linda's voice. For the lively ranchera "Los Laureles" ("The Laurels"), a mariachi favorite going back to the 1920s or '30s, Ronstadt turns in a lusty reading of the song that's about trying to get the attention of a potential suitor. "La Cigarra" ("The Cicada") is an allegory that relates how the cicada sings before it dies but it is really about a human love relationship and it features Ronstadt hitting beautiful, extended high notes throughout the song. And so it goes on this delightful set, a relaxed listen that's perfect for, say, a Saturday afternoon. Lots of great harmony vocals are provided here by Pedro Rey, Heriberto Molina, Juan Rey, Ronstadt clan members Pete and Mike (brothers) and numerous others. Listeners will find that Canciones de mi Padre offers a chance to hear a side of Ronstadt that was at the time unfamiliar to most while also presenting an opportunity to savor traditional mariachi music. This is the title's first release on vinyl.

Tim Easton - Special 20 and Not Cool - (Black Mesa Records)

Here are reissues of two fine albums from singer/songwriter and guitarist Easton. Special 20, Easton's solo debut from 1998, begins with the rollicking "Just Like Home," a lyrically amusing cut that chronicles how difficulties on the road are "just like home." The track, which includes harmonica work from Easton, sounds like it was inspired by Johnny Cash. "Special 20" is a bluegrass choogler with Al Perkins on dobro, Jim Hoke on harmonica and Mickey Grimm playing oil can, all of which combine for a classic Americana groove. Easton rocks out though on "Torture Comes to Mind," a great one to blast in the car with the windows down; the cut reminds at times of R.E.M. Banjo from Perkins rings through over a loping beat and Easton's plaintive vocals on the bluegrass of "Troublesome Kind" while "All the Pretty Girls Leave Town" is a showcase for Easton's playing and singing as it has only mandolin and glockenspiel backing. The song, like everything here, is an Easton original but if someone told you it was written by John Prine you'd find it plausible. "Help Me Find My Space Girl" is rich with harmony vocals and a hooky earworm while "Sweet Violet" is a declaration of love performed almost as a lullaby; closing cut "Rewind," again recalling John Prine, has sweet flavoring from pedal steel played by Perkins. Includes a 12-page lyric booklet. Not Cool was originally released in 2013 and is reissued here on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. "Don't Lie" begins the album with a buzzing melody and words that advise a lover to, well, not lie. "Troubled Times" nods to the early era of rock 'n' roll and the short song is custom made for a quick trip around the dance floor. In fact much here is brief; the somewhat quirky, Dwight Twilley-recalling "Lickety Split," at barely over three minutes, is the longest song on Side 1, and that's long enough to pull listeners into its fun vibe. "Tired and Hungry" is a fast-paced guitar freak out, "Little Doggie (1962)" boogies to the Bakersfield sound and "They Will Bury You" is eerie and bluesy with a bit of John Lee Hooker guitar thrown in. Contrary to the tone of the rest of the album, "Not Cool" is slow and remorseful as it mourns the end of a relationship. Easton's delve into a mostly retro sound here stands as a stark contrast to Special 20; taken together the two albums will make fans want to find out what his five albums between the two sound like.

Jackie DeShannon - The Sherry Lee Show (Sundazed Records)

The folks at Sundazed are expert at finding obscure but awesome titles to release for the first time or reissue; as examples some of their new releases are by pop/psych act Penny Arkade, jazz weirdo Sun Ra & His Arkestra, Midwestern garage rockers the Gestures and surf band the Vaqueros. Here the label has unearthed a treasure trove for fans of Jackie DeShannon, the soulful pop singer who had hits with "What the World Needs Now is Love" and "Put a Little Love in Your Heart." The Sherry Lee Show features 28 tracks showing what DeShannon did before stardom when she was a country singer performing under her real name Sherry Lee Myers. The material, never before released, was culled from radio broadcasts that were recorded on reel-to-reel tape by DeShannon's mom. The sound therefore, while clear, is quaint and in mono. The collection begins with Jackie sounding especially cute on a sprightly take on the Bill Monroe chestnut "Y'all Come" and there are tons of other familiar songs here including George Jones' "Uh, Uh, No," a very nice take on Patsy Cline's biggie "Walkin' After Midnight," Ferlin Husky's "Waiting" and the Fats Domino classic "I'm Walkin'," which DeShannon explains is performed because listeners had been requesting that she sing some rock 'n' roll. Not a rock song, but DeShannon also sings Elvis with an interpretation of "Anyway You Want Me" and, later in the set, does rock it up pretty good with the also Elvis-associated "Baby Let's Play House." DeShannon completists will love The Sherry Lee Show as will fans of the country music sound of the mid-1950s.

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