DIONNE WARWICK: Sure Thing: The Warner Bros Recordings (Soul Music)

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Back in 2020 David Nathan’s Soul Music Records released  a wonderful 12 CD box set that chronicled DIONNE WARWICK’S tenure at Arista Records. Now the label follows that with an equally wonderful collection that offers all the music Ms Warwick recorded at Warner Bros Records prior to her move to Arista.

This new box set offers 85 tracks across 6 CDs  and alongside that Arista retrospective, the release drives a coach and four through the myth that the New Jersey singer’s best music came when she worked with Burt Bacharach and Hal David at Scepter Records. Yes, for sure, that team did craft countless, timeless soul and pop classics but at Arista and, indeed, at Warner Bros she released much that equalled (and in some cases surpassed) her 60s hits.

Dip into this new box and you’ll hear classics like ‘Then Came You’ (her collaboration with the Spinners), the catchy ‘Just Being Myself’, the sumptuous version of ‘Move Me No Mountain’, Thom Bell’s masterful ‘Track Of The Cat’ and ‘Once You Hit The Road’. But as with the Arista collection dig deeper and you’ll hear a plethora of quality soul every bit as good as  those better known Scepter songs – and that’s the issue, Ms W’s Scepter catalogue has enjoyed plenty of coverage. The Arista/Warner Bros music, much less.

So, here’s some of this reviewers recommendations from this new collection. First off there’s a re-reading of ‘Close To Me’; then, a lovely treatment of ‘One Less To Answer’; try a soulful cover of the classic ‘I Can’t Wait To See My Baby’s Face’; and don’t miss a version of Jim Weatherly’s ‘Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me’. In fact just too many gems to list here but with people like Thom Bell, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Tony Camillo, Ashford and Simpson, Steve Barri and Michael Omartian, Jerry Ragovoy and, indeed, Bacharach and David handling production and/or writing duties you’d expect nothing less than gem after gem.

The music and the CDs in the box are arranged chronologically. There’s the five full albums with added bonuses, while  the third CD contains 16 “extras”, the non-album tracks Dionne recorded between 1973 and 1974 with various producers. There are extensive sleeve notes which include interview snippets from Burt Bacharach, Tom Bell and Brian Holland. All that and the superlative music make  this release unmissable.

(BB) 5/5