It’s just fifty years since Dionne Warwick enjoyed her first chart hit – ‘Don’t Make Me Over’. Music mythology has it that Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned it for their muse after she’d complained to them because they’d refused to allow her to record ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’. She’s supposed to have said “don’t make me over” and the tunesmiths turned the phrase into legend. How appropriate then that to celebrate that auspicious moment fifty years ago, Ms W has released a whole new album of songs all penned by Burt and Hal – either as a team or as individuals with other collaborators.
Most of the 12 inclusions are re-readings of Warwick classics and ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ naturally takes pride of place. This new version is less dramatic than the original but none the less impactful. Sung in a deeper tone (age has taken some toll), the song retains all of its original naive innocence. Other Warwick “oldies” to get a makeover include ‘Are You There With Another Girl’ (Stevie Wonder’s favourite Bacharach/David song and the great man, it seems, persuaded Dionne to re-record it). ‘I Say A Little Prayer For You’ (here in duet with son David Elliot), the lesser known ‘Be Aware’ and ‘I Just Have To Breathe’ (both originally featured on her sadly neglected eponymous 1972 Warner Bros LP), ‘Reach Out’, ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’ (which she’s recorded several times despite the two writers’ initial opposition) and ‘Always Something There To Remind Me’.
That leaves four songs which are new to her canon. They are the delicate ‘Love Is Still The Answer’ (which Bacharach co-wrote with Tonio K), the Hal David/Albert Hammond collaboration ’99 Miles From LA’ (a US hit for Art Garfunkel), ‘Is There Anyone Out There’ (written by Bacharach with James Ingram and Puff Johnson) and ‘It Was Almost Like A Song’ (another Hal David lyric with music from Archie Jordan). All are beautifully suited to Ms Warwick’s polished, effortless, warm delivery and elegantly complement the other material. It’s all perfect easy-listening but that’s not meant to sound derogatory in any way. Though not directly involved in the project, the sleeve notes make it clear that both Burt Bacharach and Hal David (who sadly died in early September) are proud of the album. We can’t offer a better endorsement than that.