DEE DEE WARWICK: I Want To Be With You/I’m Gonna Make You Love Me (Soul Music Records)

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In an interview a few years back Dionne Warwick freely admitted that her sister Dee Dee was the much more soulful singer. She (Dionne) also conceded that luck had helped her become an internationally acclaimed star while lack of breaks meant that Dee Dee never made music’s major league. Dionne’s younger sister, though, is revered by soul cognoscenti and for those who’ve still to catch up with her stunning talent, this new Soul Music Records reissue of her first Blue Rock/Mercury album is a great starting point.

Dee Dee and Dionne began their music careers as part of various New Jersey gospel groups before breaking into the busy New York session and demo scene. Dionne was of course “discovered” by Burt Bacharach and after big sis’s successful solo launch Dee Dee was signed by writers Leiber and Stoller but after releases on Jubilee and Tiger she signed to Blue Rock/Mercury in 1964. The label was interested in moving singles and it wasn’t till 1967 that this, her debut long player was released. As was the way back then, the album was an assembly of her singles along with what label execs considered filler…but with producers and writers like Ed Townsend, Clint Ballard, Carole King, Horace Ott, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff on the case “filler” is hardly the right word.

The album’s big tune is the original version of ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ which reached #13 on the Billboard R&B chart – a position bettered by the standard styled ‘I Want To Be With You’ which hit the R&B top ten. No wonder Mercury bosses used both single titles as the album’s headline… unwieldy though it is. They still sound great… but they’re just two highlights amongst many. Other excellent cuts include Ed Townsend’s ‘Do It With All Your Heart’ and Goffin/King’s ‘Yours Until Tomorrow’. As usual with Soul Music Records reissues you get plenty of bonuses. Here there’s 7 contemporaneous songs used as singles or B-sides. Included is an interesting version of The Mamas And The Papas’ ‘Monday Monday’ and Gamble and Huff’s attempt to recreate the magic of ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ with ‘We’ve Got Everything Going For Us’… quite superb, but then I’ve always been a sucker for a melodic song, a lavish production and soulful vocals and, you know, actually that’s the recipe for everything here.

This is a reissue you can’t be without; seek out too Soul Music Records reissue of Dee Dee’s ‘Foolish Fool’ set and, if Christmas funds permit, her Atco stuff too (there a few compilations around); then, you’ll have all you’ll need on one of soul’s great (and still largely ignored) talents.

(BB) 5/5