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SoulMusic Goes “Loco” with Expanded Reissues From Dee Dee Warwick, The Four Tops

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Dee Dee Warwick - I Want To Be With YouDee Dee Warwick signed with Mercury Records’ Blue Rock imprint in 1964, the same year her sister Dionne solidified her place in the upper reaches of the charts with songs like “Walk on By,” “Reach Out for Me” and “You’ll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart).”  Though Dee Dee never saw the same kind of commercial success as Dionne, she carved out a unique vocal identity with her dark, bluesy and intense tone.  At Mercury, Dee Dee recorded two albums and a number of singles.  In 2012, Soul Music Records brought 1969’s Foolish Fool to CD along with five non-LP bonus 45s, and now the label has delivered an expanded edition of 1967’s I Want to Be with You/I’m Gonna Make You Love Me to virtually complete Warwick’s Mercury discography.

Foolish Fool was assembled from sessions with producers as diverse as Ed Townsend, Johnny Franz, Jerry Ross, Lou Courtney and even the team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff; its predecessor was more unified, with all but three tracks produced by Townsend.  The remaining three were helmed by Ross.  Still, there’s a grab-bag quality to the LP, as it compiled songs recorded as far back as 1965.  I Want to Be with You is titled after Warwick’s deconstruction of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’ ballad “I Want to Be with You” from their Broadway musical Golden Boy.  Singing only Adams’ title lyric, Warwick and Townsend used the original song as a springboard for almost two-and-a-half minutes of burning, ad-libbed passion.  Though Strouse’s ravishing melody is missed, the sensuality and depth of Warwick’s rendition can’t be discounted.  She also smoldered on Townsend’s “Do it with All Your Heart.”  First released in 1965 on 45, it sports a fine Teacho Wilshire arrangement graced by subtle strings.  Ballads being Warwick’s strongest suit, she also offered perhaps the definitive reading of Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Yours Until Tomorrow” as arranged by Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner and produced by Jerry Ross.

“Tomorrow” was the B-side of Warwick’s 1966 single “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” which provided the second half of the album’s title the following year.  Warwick, Wisner and Ross were at their finest on the seductive track, written by Ross with the up-and-coming team of Kenny Gamble and an uncredited Leon Huff.  Yet “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” a Top 20 R&B hit for Dee Dee, didn’t get its due until The Supremes and The Temptations duetted on it in 1969.  That rendition adhered closely to Wisner’s original template, and was produced by one of the background singers on Dee Dee’s recording…none other than Nickolas Ashford!

Whereas Dionne developed a signature sound thanks to the singular style of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Dee Dee’s versatility may have hampered her chances at pop crossover success.  I Want to Be with You shows all these many colors.  She tore into Horace Ott’s joyous “We’re Doing Fine” with its shifting dynamics, brassy arrangement as well as his “Worth Every Tear I Cry” with its ebullient horns, strings and propulsive beat.  Warwick was equally comfortable with the call-and-response of “Happiness,” by Irwin Levine (“Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” “This Diamond Ring”) and Philip Springer (“Santa Baby”) and the elegance of the uptown soul ballad “Another Lonely Saturday (Baby I’m Yours)” by Eddie Snyder (“Strangers in the Night”) and Bob Elgin (“Killer Joe”).  The album even touched on pure pop with the Latin-flavored “House of Gold,” a Tijuana Brass-meets-“On Broadway” ditty by Mark Barkan (Toomorrow, “That’s the Way Boys Are”) and Terry Phillips.

What bonus material will you find on I’m Gonna Make You Love Me?  Plus: details on The Four Tops’ Indestructible – all after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 9, 2014 at 09:34