WE OLDER ROCK FAN—meaning fans of pre-Beatles rock & roll—were surprised back in 1973 when United Artists released a new album by an artist we hadn’t heard from in a while. Del Shannon was being peddled as a One Hit Wonder (“tears are falling and I feel the pain”) on oldies stations. Live In England, recorded in Manchester in December 1972, was a wake-up call for many who had written off one of the best rock and rollers of the early ’60s.
In 1975, Sire Records followed up with The Vintage Years, an amazing two-record set of 45 and LP sides. Long outta print, this is worth finding, buying, and listening to over and over. It includes a song he wrote and arranged as a nod to the British Invasion: I Go To Pieces, which was an international hit for Peter & Gordon, whose lovely harmonies elevated the song. Del’s original (below) is an odd mixture of an Orbisonian backbeat with a Searchers-like 12-string jangling up front:
Tears are falling and I feel the pain
Del’s original singles from the early ’60s are hard to find in stereo. Here is the unmixed two-track master for the hit single Runaway that was issued on the rather rare stereo version of the Runaway album.
The stereo version of Big Top is 12-303, which is the same catalog number as the mono album. Should you want to purchase a copy of the stereo album, make sure the front cover is embossed “STEREO” in gold and the record has “STEREO” printed on the labels.
The last two stereo copies on eBay that were graded somewhat better than VG+ sold for $500 and $600, both in 2012. In NM, this should still be a thousand dollar record, but stereo copies in that condition are rarely offered for sale.
In 1986, Del rerecorded his biggest hit for the then new television series Crime Story. He still sounded fanbloodytastic:
Alas, Del Shannon (born Charles Westover) suffered through lifelong depression. Like so many chronically depressed people, he “self medicated” (he drank a lot). In 1990, while attempting to deal with his situation with the relatively new prescription drug Prozac (fluoxetine), he committed suicide and the tears are falling and I feel the pain …