Del Shannon

Band members                             Related acts

- Del Shannon (aka Charles Westover) (RIP 1990) -- vocals, guitar



- none known


Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Further Adventures of Charles Westover

Company: Liberty

Catalog: LST 7539

Year: 1968

Country/State: Grand Rapids, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5090

Price: $125.00


It seems that by 1968 every musician under the sun was growing their hair long (nice sideburns Del), donning mod clothing and jumping aboard the psychedelic bandwagon. With his recording career in commercial limbo, Del Shannon was no exception to the rule. 


Co-produced by Dugg Brown and future manager Daniel Bourgoise, 1968's "The Further Adventures of Charles Westover" (yeah, that was his birth name - no wonder he opted for a different stage name), was an all-out assault on the realm of downer-psych.  Instinctively you'd probably think the resulting album would be hysterically inept, however having listened to it a dozens of times, the set's goofy, but surprisingly good.  Unlike many of his competitors Shannon and his teamed pulled out all the stops in an effort to underscore his relevance.  The twelve songs came complete with over-the-top orchestration, backward strings, harpsichords, sitars, female backing vocalists and supposedly deep and insightful lyrics.  Listening to tracks like 'Silver Birch' and 'Conquer' you could just imagine Shannon thinking "c'mon folks, dig the long hair and take me as a serious artist ..."   Material such as the single 'Gemini', 'Colour Flashing Hair' and 'Magical Musical Box' was surprisingly cool and attractive. Personal favorites included the lysergic-drenched pop tune 'Think I Love You' and the country-ish 'River Cool'.  It's one of those rare albums where there really isn't a bad song to be found.  Yeah, some are better than others, but there's not one where I would pick up the stylus and skip on the next song.  Unfortunately as was to be expected, the change in musical direction was too much for old fans to handle.  Admittedly for long time fans 'Runaway' to 'Colour Flashing Hair' required a massive leap in faith and few were willing to make the leap.  Simultaneously  younger psych-oriented audiences wanted nothing to do with what most of them viewed as a golden oldies act.   For goodness sake, many of their parents owned Del Shannon albums.  Caught in that demographic dead zone, the album failed to sell and by the end of the year Shannon had ended his longstanding professional relationship with Liberty.  Shame since this was one of the best "reinvention" albums out there.  Whereas many of his contemporaries slapped a psychedelic cover on a collection of the same old stuff, Shannon was clearly serious about exploring different musical idioms and remaking himself.  The album should have been a massive hit.  As far as I know, Shannon did not record another studio album of new material for twelve years and the release of 1981's "Drop Down and Get Me."




Perhaps because the original US cover was so dark and ominous, the UK version featured alternative, peppier artwork (Liberty catalog number LBS 83114)



"The Further Adventures of Charles Westover" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Thinkin' It Over   (Del Shannon - Beau James) - 2:47   rating: **** stars

'Thinkin' It Over' was simply a wonderful performance.  A haunting ballad that captured the best aspects of Shannon's voice, the track's ethereal feel and engaging arrangement always reminded me of an American version of Colin Blunstone and The Zombies.  The tune was tapped as a single in the US and throughout the world:

- 1968's 'Thinkin' It Over' b/w 'Runnin' On Back' (Liberty catalog number 56018)
2.) Be My Friend   (Dug Birch) - 2:20 
rating; *** stars

The opening sure sounded like we were going into standard blues territory, but then the tune when off into hysteric soul territory,  Nah, songwriter Dug Birch wasn't going to win anything in the lyrics department (unless their was an award for repetition).  The vocal sounded like it was recorded live - warts and all.
3.) Silver Birch   (Del Shannon - Jonathan M. Perkins) - 2:59  
rating: **** stars

The dark and haunting 'Silver Birch' abandoned and burned all traces of the old Del Shannon. Can we say all say  lysergic overload?   
4.) I Think I Love You   (Del Shannon) - 4:09  
rating: **** stars

Always loved the pounding bass line; the electric sitar and the catchy refrain.  'I Think I Love You' was the album's best blend of psychedelic and commerciality.  To get a feel for the song, imagine what Mike Nesmith and the rest of The Monkess would have come up with had Don Kirshner let them go off in a true psych tangent.  I would have tapped this one as a single.
5.) River Cool   (Del
Shannon - Jonathan M. Perkins) - 2:09  rating: *** stars

Quite different from the rest of the album, 'River Cool' framed Shannon in a country-rock melody.  The slightly treated vocals were in keeping with the album's lysergic touch.  
6.) Colour Flashing Hair   (Del Shannon) - 2:40  
rating: **** stars

Opening up with an intriguing acoustic guitar, 'Colour Flashing Hair' offered up an awesome slice of pop-psych.  To my ears the song's structure, extensive orchestration and Shannon's fragile vocals bore more than a passing resemblance to late-'60s Bee Gees.  Very pretty and commercial. 

(side 2)

1.) Gemini   (Del Shannon) - 3:02   rating: **** stars

The Beach Boys collide with Roy Wood and the Move ...  If you're ever looking for a song that captures that mid-'60s vibe for a film score, then give a listen to 'Gemini'.  As much as I love Shannon's earlier catalog, I'm not sure he ever sounded as good as on this one.  Glorious melody and the production effects that would have made The Fab Four smile.  Great choice for the album's second single:





- 1968's 'Gemini' b/w 'Magical Music Box' (Liberty catalog number 56036)




2.) Runnin' On Back   (Del Shannon - Sharon Sheeley) - 3:30   rating: **** stars

I love 'Runnin' On Back' because it sounds like Shannon took one of his older songs; dosed it with high octane barbiturates and then slapped droning organ and fuzz guitars on top of it.   Given the droning garage vibe, it was a shame he didn't record and release this in 1965.  
3.) Conquer   (Del Shannon) - 3:01
   rating: **** stars

'Conquer' was a pretty, reflective ballad with impressive multi-tracked vocals.  Always loved Shannon's breathless delivery and the sitar touches.  
4.) Been So Long   (Del Shannon - Brian Hyland) - 2:54
  rating: *** stars

'Been So Long' seemingly added a touch of swamp-rock to the mixture.  Shannon's vocals reminded me a little of Neil Young at his most tuneful. The echo production effects detracted from the performance as did the end-of-song meltdown effect.
5.) Magical Musical Box   (Del Shannon - Jonathan M. Perkins) - 3:13
   rating: **** stars

Opening up with the music box sound effects, I feared 'Magical Musical Box' was going to be too precious for its own good.  It was fragile, but kicked along by some harpsichord and a Baroque arrangement that reminded me of 'Eleanor Rigby' at her most depressed, there was something fascinating about this one.
6.) New Orleans (Mardis Gras)   (Jim Pulte) - 4:39
   rating: **** stars

Written by future Southwind bassist Jim Pulte, 'New Orleans (Mardis Gras)' was one of two outside covers.  Musically it was an interesting mash-up of styles  including New Orleans funk moves, Stax-styled horns, rock moves and mid-Eastern flavors.  Geez, did I stumble into a Cajun zombies movie soundtrack by mistake?