DIONNE WARWICK: The Essential… (Music Club)

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Over the years there have been umpteen collections/retrospectives of the classic work of Dionne Warwick – and every home should have one! This new set from Music Club is a little different in that it’s been put together by a real fan – Soul Jazz and Funk’s very own Charles Waring. Most previous Dionne Warwick “best of/essential/definitive” sets have been compiled by bean-counting marketeers whose priority has always been the profit column on their balance sheets. Here – though the album is still hugely commercial – it’s coming from a soul perspective and ends up offering a much more accurate snapshot of one of the truly great female voices of the 20th century.

The 44 track, double CD look at Ms. Warwick’s career between 1963 and 1982 and naturally it contains all the defining, majestic classics – ‘Walk On By’, ‘You’ll Never Get To Heaven’, ‘ Anyone Who Had A Heart’, ‘You’ll Never Get To Heaven’, ‘This Empty Place’, ‘Alfie’ and the still heart-rending ‘A House Is Not A Home’. But the album is also peppered with lots of lesser known items – each one every bit as essential as those aforementioned classics. So, here we can enjoy stuff like the quite beautiful ‘April Fools’, the long neglected ‘Reach Out For Me’ and the jaunty ‘Hasbrook Heights’ – taken from a 1972 album that reunited a once feuding Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

There’s also plenty to remind us that the lovely lady made great music away from those two song-writing giants. There’s (obviously) the Bee Gee collaboration, ‘Heartbreaker’ and the duet with the Spinners – ‘Then Came You’; great too to have the wonderful Thom Bell songs ‘His House And Me’ and ‘Track Of The Cat’ and the remarkable ‘I’m Just Being Myself ‘ and ‘Move Me No Mountain’.

Interestingly the music isn’t sequenced chronologically – and this gives it all a refreshing twist… yes, a great collection this and I don’t think anyone could argue with the “essential” in the titling.

(BB) 4/5