Make Way For Dionne Warwick
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the Bacharach/David/Warwick triad was ’60s pop royalty. Virtually ignored by most oldies radio stations in lieu of The Beach Boys’ entire surf-centric oeuvre and Motown’s most commerically played-out numbers, Dionne Warwick is as equally associated with questionable endorsement of The Psychic Network in the ’80s as she is with her gorgeous, unique singing voice. It’s a shame, but with Collector’s Choice’s recent reissues of her stunning Bacharach-produced early catalog she might have a better chance re-claiming some of her previous glory.
By the time Make Way For Dionne Warwick was originally released in 1964, Warwick and her songwriting partners not only had a number of hits under their belts, but had perfected their sound. As a result, this disc features some of Bacharach/David’s best compositions (“A House is Not a Home,” “They Long to Be Close to You,” “Reach Out For Me,” “Wishin’ and Hopin'” and “Walk On By”) and Warwick’s vocals adeptly span a range of melancholy ballad to soul to playful pop perfectly. She’s never sounded better than on “Walk On By,” a staccato send-off to an scorned ex-lover come crawling back, but the true find on here is the long-lost “I Smiled Yesterday,” a gem of a girl group soul song that could have dominated the charts as completely as anything to come out of Phil Spector’s stable.
Bacharach’s tastefully minimalist orchestral arrangements keep everything ornate without becoming overblown. It’s this aesthetic and his mastery of almost whimsical melancholy melodies that influenced nearly every contemporary multi-member indie pop act. With these discs readily available again, that influence will hopefully continue to manifest itself for generations of songwriters and singers to come.
Collector’s Choice: www.collectorschoicemusic.com