Hello! My name is Jamie Dyer and I would like to welcome you to another Vintage Media Millennial entry. Firstly, thank you for the kind comments that I received on the other posts, it has really boosted my confidence to feel a sense of freedom when writing. Like any sequel though, there is a chance this one won’t live up to the hype! Let’s go!
A couple of years ago, I wrote a review for a compilation of tunes by singer Del Shannon. Aside from Runaway, I had heard very little of this artist. After listening to the whole album several times, I appreciated his work immensely. Eventually, I moved on to his later material and discovered something more. Sifting through Spotify can often be a nuisance with a legacy artist like Shannon because their early work clouds the listing. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to scroll down massively to trudge past the infinite amount of poor-quality re-releases of the same material; Eventually, little-known releases that rarely get mentioned come to light.
It was then that I discovered his 1981 album Drop Down and Get Me. It may have been covered in some 1980s production cliches, but it still had some of the brilliance found in earlier material. One such recording is Cheap Love, Written by Shannon and produced by Tom Petty, this track has a formula that really caught my attention. Backed by the Heartbreakers, this artist delivers a simple yet effective opening riff, jangly guitars, a driving drum beat and a sing-a-long chorus. I am not the first person to be taken with the track either, it seems it would go on to have a life of its own.
The song was picked up by Country artist Juice Newton in 1985 for her album Old Flame. One of many covers on this album, it took the original to new heights and a whole new area of 1980s production! Featuring heavily produced guitars, synths and a gated drum sound, this is the epitome of polished 1980s Country radio. Newton really exploits the chorus with a series of sections that drive the song home.
The second cover is by Country music legend Marty Stuart. His version changes the name to a much nicer sounding ‘Sweet Love’, lowering the key to fit his voice. Building on the twangy guitars of the original Stuart delivers a Country drenched interpretation with a beautifully simple rhythm guitar part driving the whole song forward; with those straightforward hooky lead lines shared between guitar and mandolin. In some ways, Marty manages to strike a balance between the original and Newton’s cover, while putting his own stamp on it. Gotta love the slide-style guitar at the end. Great stuff.
So what does this prove? I think it shows that even the most obscure of songs can go on to have a life of its own, if the parts are there, to begin with. Shannon laid the groundwork, which many artists benefitted from. It’s just a shame much of his later material, including his excellent posthumous album with Jeff Lynne, has a tendency to be buried by the early stuff. You never know, this may change one day with more cover versions, leading to renewed exposure. Sometimes it only takes one song…Cheap Love can be streamed on Spotify on the album Drop Down And Get Me.