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Always Something There: Dionne Warwick Celebrates 50 Years with Bacharach, David, Ramone on “Now”

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Were there a competition to crown Most Striking Album Cover of 2012, Dionne Warwick might win it hands-down for the image adorning Now, the singer’s new album due on October 30 internationally and November 6 in North America.  Now is a celebration of Warwick’s 50 years in music, looking back on a solo career that began in 1962 with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Don’t Make Me Over.”  That song soared to No. 21 Pop/No. 5 R&B, setting Warwick on a course that would see her place more than 50 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998.  Many of those classics, of course, were penned and produced by the other two members of her “triangle marriage,” Bacharach and David, and so it’s fitting that she’s returning to their catalogues for Now.  The album, too, shall stand as a tribute to David, who passed away on September 1 at the age of 91.  Although this isn’t a catalogue release per se, its retrospective nature hopefully makes it a prime candidate for coverage here at The Second Disc!

The twelve-track album features new recordings of eight Warwick/Bacharach/David favorites, plus four songs never before performed by the singer.  Now is set apart from past remake projects (including 1998’s Dionne Sings Dionne and 2006’s duets album My Friends and Me) by the presence of Phil Ramone in the producer’s chair.  A 33-time Grammy Award nominee with 14 trophies under his belt, Ramone was an engineer on a number of Warwick’s 1960s hits recorded at his own A&R Studios in New York City.  A close ally of Bacharach’s, Ramone also engineered the original Broadway Cast Recording of Bacharach and David’s Promises, Promises, and intuitively shaped the sound of those hit records with the artist and the songwriters/producers.  He told journalist Marc Myers in 2010, “Eventually, I became Burt’s hearing frame in the control room. When he trusted me, he’d stop coming in from the studio area to discuss things. Instead, he’d just turn around after a take, and I would either give a thumbs-up or indicate we needed another one…Despite what you read, Burt wasn’t tough on Dionne. There was mutual respect between Burt, Dionne and Hal. They had a special thing, and all wanted the same result—a hit.”  Of course, they earned many such hits, including the songs re-recorded for Now, including “Don’t Make Me Over,” Reach Out for Me” (No. 1 R&B, No. 20 Pop), “Make It Easy on Yourself” (No. 37 Pop, No. 26 R&B and No. 2 AC) and “I Say a Little Prayer” (No. 4 Pop, No. 8 R&B), performed a duet between Warwick and her son, David Elliott.  Another past triumph, the multi-layered, dynamic “Are You There (with Another Girl)” was chosen for the new album at the request of none other than Stevie Wonder!

In addition to those familiar songs, Warwick is also turning her attention to two lesser-known songs from 1972’s Warner Bros. debut Dionne.  Despite a number of truly stunning songs, that album would prove to be the final collaboration between Bacharach, David and Warwick for more than a decade, with the dissolution of the Bacharach/David team leading to lawsuits between all parties.  Though time eventually healed all wounds, this fine album got lost in the shuffle, and so Dionne returns to two exquisite Bacharach/David compositions from the LP: “Be Aware” (also performed by Barbra Streisand and Laura Nyro) and “I Just Have to Breathe.”

After the jump: which four songs new to Warwick appear on Now?  Hit the jump to read on!

Warwick will introduce four songs to her repertoire on Now.  She asked Bacharach and David to each select two songs written with other collaborators, and her longtime friends complied.  David offered two of his biggest post-Bacharach hits: “It Was Almost Like a Song” and “99 Miles from L.A.”  The former was written with Archie Jordan and, in 1977, became country artist Ronnie Milsap’s eighth No. 1 song, as well as his first entry in the Hot 100 at No. 16.  As for “99 Miles,” it was a No. 1 Easy Listening hit for composer Albert Hammond in 1975, the same year it received a recording from Art Garfunkel on his Top 10 album Breakaway.  Bacharach chose two less-heralded songs for Dionne to reintroduce.  “Is There Anybody Out There?” was written with James Ingram, John Bettis and Puff Johnson, and recorded by Japanese artist Mari Iijima in 1995.  This will be the premiere American recording of this up-tempo R&B track.  The second Bacharach tune is the slow-burning “Love is Still the Answer,” with lyrics by Tonio K.  It was introduced in 2002 by Italian singer Ornella Vanoni on her all-Bacharach tribute album and was later recorded by Ronald Isley with Bacharach.

Celebrating an unparalleled legacy in music, Dionne Warwick’s Now is scheduled to be released on October 30 internationally and November 6 in North America.  Amazon currently shows the label as “Blue Horizon Ventures.”  The album will be preceded by the double A-side single, “Is There Anybody Out There?” and “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me.”  You can preview the latter right now at SoundCloud, and the complete album can be ordered below!

Dionne Warwick, Now (2012)

  1. (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me
  2. Are You There (With Another Girl)
  3. Don’t Make Me Over
  4. Love is Still the Answer (Bacharach/Tonio K)
  5. 99 Miles from LA (David/Hammond)
  6. Be Aware
  7. Reach Out for Me
  8. Is There Anybody Out There (Bacharach/Bettis/Ingram/Johnson)
  9. I Just Have to Breathe
  10. It Was Almost Like a Song (David/Jordan)
  11. Make It Easy on Yourself
  12. I Say a Little Prayer (Duet with David Elliott)

All tracks written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David unless otherwise indicated.

Written by Joe Marchese

September 11, 2012 at 13:13

One Response

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  1. Will there ever be a careerspanning boxset of Dionne’s recordings? Are you listening Rhino?


    September 12, 2012 at 01:54

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