Saturday, May 29, 2010

DEAN JONES : Paul Simon, Jimmy Webb and John Hartford

You've got to admit that Dean Jones had taste. When it came time for him to join the ranks of TV stars making record albums, he chose some good material, including obscure tunes from two rising talents, Jim Webb ("The Name of My Sorrow") and John Hartford ("I Didn't Know the World Would Last This Long." Your download's those two songs plus Dean's articulate rendition of Paul Simon's "Sounds of Silence."

His album was on the Dot label, and it's certainly a speck of nostalgia today. Come to think of it, so is his Valiant album (that's the name of the label) the debut he issued a year earlier ("Introducing Dean Jones") not to mention the nine singles he issued for MGM in the late 50's including "Tennessee Rock 'n' Roll," "Ballad of Gunsight Ridge," "There Goes My Heart" and "Fall Guy." There was also one single for Liberty called "The Proud Don't Cry."

There are probably several different types of Dean Jones fans. Most would remember him as a slightly befuddled Disney hero, star of various "Herbie the Love Bug" movies, as well as "That Darn Cat," "Blackbeard's Ghost" and "The Shaggy D.A."

Others know him as a capable actor with a sinister streak. In the film "Two on a Guillotine," and in episodes of such TV fare as "Burke's Law," it was hard to tell if he was going to turn out to be the hero or the villain. He was somewhat of a straight-man as the star of the sitcom "Ensign O'Toole," which some Baby Boomers still remember with fondness. Broadway buffs know that he was the youthful star of "Under the Yum-Yum Tree," and that he was the honest actor who felt he wasn't right for Sondheim's "Company" and negotiated to leave the show early in it's run.

In the 80's the Born-again Christian toured in a one-man show called "St. John in Exile," and in the 90's appeared in Danny DeVito's "Other Peoples' Money" among others. The semi-retired actor's latest film roles are "Mandie and the Secret Tunnel" and "God Provides," and he provided quite a bit for the charity he founded in 1998, "The Christian Rescue Committee."

He recalls, ""I was doing Show Boat at the Kennedy Center when a Jewish friend came backstage and said, 'We Jews couldn't have gotten our people out of the Soviet Union without the help of the Christian church. How come you Christians aren't helping the 200 million of your brothers and sisters who are being persecuted?' "The next week I was told that 15 Christians were imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for having a prayer meeting. We sent an advocate and with the help of two U.S. Senators, three weeks later the Christians were on a plane leaving Saudi. I've been working with the committee ever since to help get people who are seriously persecuted for their faith escape to safer living conditions."

Too bad Dean's album isn't providing safer living conditions for record store owners, but it was never destined to be a $50 wall item. His Broadway sensibilities may not have been quite right for folk-rock (you can understand every line of the lyrics) but any fan of Dean Jones will be happy to download these samples…and most everyone's had a reason to be a fan of Dean Jones for something or other during his long, varied and impressive 50 year career on stage, screen and television.

Update November 2011: Rapidshare deletes files if they aren't uploaded often enough to suit them. The title track has been re-upped individually via a better service:


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