When Dionne Warwick signed on the dotted line with Warner Bros. Records, the possibilities must have seemed endless. The singer had embraced change, after all. A new decade was in its infancy. She had traded a feisty New York independent (Scepter) for a Burbank giant. She had even added an “e” to her surname on the advice of an astrologer. And although the exact amount wasn’t disclosed, Warwick had reportedly signed the biggest deal ever for a female vocalist. What didn’t change, at least initially, was the commitment of producers/songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David to the superstar. Warwick was signed to Warner Bros. through their production company, and every indication was that the trio’s chart presence – well-established since 1963 – would continue. Of course, things don’t always go as planned. Following the professional breakup of Bacharach and David, the singer’s 1972-1978 Warner Bros. tenure ultimately became a footnote in a career of one triumph after another, first at Scepter Records and later in a remarkable “comeback” at Arista (1979-1995). Thanks to the protean efforts of Real Gone Music, however, Dionne Warwick’s Warner tenure will be forgotten no more. On July 30, the label will issue two essential volumes: The Complete Warner Bros. Singles, and even more excitingly, We Need to Go Back: The Unissued Warner Bros. Masters. The latter will feature 19 never-before-released songs including productions by Burt Bacharach, Thom Bell, Holland-Dozier-Holland, and Nickolas Ashford and Valarie Simpson.
Sessions began in New York City in 1971 for the debut album simply entitled Dionne. Little did Warwick, Bacharach, David, and the Warner Bros. brass know it would be the trio’s final full length collaboration. The album was released in January 1972 to a respectable showing (No. 54 Pop, No. 22 R&B), but the Bacharach/David partnership was soon torn asunder by professional and personal differences. Lawsuits ensued, and Warwick was forced to soldier on with a variety of writers and producers. Of course, she had the creme of the crop at the ready, including Holland-Dozier-Holland, Jerry Ragovoy, Michael Omartian, and most notably, Thom Bell. Philadelphia soul architect Bell fared best. He provided her with “Then Came You,” and that 1974 duet with The Spinners earned Dionne, unbelievably, her very first U.S. Pop No. 1. But that wasn’t even a Warner Bros. single, having been issued on sister label Atlantic, home of The Spinners.
So what will you find over the course of 21 tracks on The Complete Warner Bros. Singles? Only one single was issued from the Bacharach/David-produced Dionne. Oddly, the A-side wasn’t one of the team’s new compositions, but rather a Don Sebesky-arranged rendition of the Jacques Brel tune “If We Only Have Love,” with a revival of “Close to You” arranged by Bob James on the B-side. Another album didn’t arrive on Warner Bros. until 1973. It was Just Being Myself, produced and mostly written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. Warwick was never comfortable with the song selection, nor with the process of singing over pre-recorded tracks reportedly intended for artists on H-D-H’s Invictus label. But the Detroit-recorded album has its fair share of soulful highlights, and four tracks from the LP saw single release including the title track and “Don’t Let My Teardrops Bother You.” Jerry Ragovoy was in charge of Then Came You, so titled for the Thom Bell-produced hit single that was appended to the otherwise-unrelated LP. “Then Came You” itself isn’t on Real Gone’s anthology, but two singles (four sides) from the March 1975 release, naturally, are – including No. 30 R&B hit “Take It From Me” and the No. 66 “Sure Thing.”
Then came Thom Bell, who was given the plum assignment of producing an entire album for Warwick. Seeing as Bell was a spiritual successor to Bacharach, he was a perfect choice. December 1975’s Track of the Cat deserved a better fate than its No. 137 Pop/No. 15 chart berth, as you’ll hear via its two singles (four sides) here: “His House and Me” b/w “Ronnie Lee,” and “Once You Hit the Road” b/w “World of My Dreams.” A non-LP single followed Track of the Cat with some of Warwick’s most impassioned singing: 1976’s Joe Porter-helmed “I Didn’t Mean to Love You” b/w “He’s Not for You.” These are just two of the rare treats on The Complete Singles. The collection concludes with five sides from Love at First Sight, Warwick’s final Warner Bros. album, from 1977. (The Steve Barri/Michael Omartian-produced LP included a reunion with Hal David on the sublime “Early Morning Strangers,” which boasted a melody by someone who would play a key role in the next chapter of Dionne’s career – Barry Manilow. It, alas, wasn’t selected as a single!) Warwick wouldn’t re-emerge with another studio album until Clive Davis paired her with Manilow for 1979’s platinum-selling Dionne. The rest, they say, is history. All tracks on The Complete Warner Bros. Singles are heard in their original single stereo mixes. (And for those interested in the entire albums, the entire Warner album catalogue will soon be reissued on CD by Warner Music Japan. You’ll find all of the details here!)
What will you discover on We Need to Go Back: The Unissued Warner Bros. Masters? Hit the jump!
While at Warner Bros., Warwick recorded a treasure trove of material that has remained unreleased until this very day. We Need to Go Back brings compiles these never-before-released tracks from a wide variety of producers and songwriters. Just weeks ago in this space, on May 20, we lamented that two tracks recorded with Nickolas Ashford and Valarie Simpson (“Someone Else Gets the Prize” and “We Need to Go Back”), two intended for Just Being Myself (“Too Far Out of Reach” and “It Hurts Me So”) and three produced and written by Burt Bacharach (“And Then You Know What He Did,” “He Walked Right Through the Door” and “Plastic City’) were all gathering dust in the Warner Bros. vaults. Now, we can announce that all seven of those tracks – and twelve more! – will be included on We Need to Go Back.
The Ashford and Simpson tracks were recorded in 1973 and neglected until now. The same year, pop songwriter and future film composer Randy Edelman (“Weekend in New England,” the underrated solo album Farewell Fairbanks) produced three songs for Dionne, with Brooks Arthur engineering. All three – “Give a Little Laughter,” “You Are the Sunlight, I Am the Moon,” and “The Laughter and the Tears” – premiere here. Real Gone has also located also outtakes from each Warner LP: the Thom Bell productions “One Last Memory” and “I Found Someone Else,” Jerry Ragovoy’s “Meant to Be,” and Barri and Omartian’s “Room Enough.” Six tracks were discovered from an unreleased album project with Joe Porter, the producer of “I Didn’t Mean to Love You.” All six are included. And then there are the three Bacharach songs.
With Bacharach estranged from Hal David, the composer turned to Bobby Russell and Neil Simon for lyrics, and produced three songs with Warwick at a June 1974 session. Old friend Phil Ramone manned the controls at Los Angeles’ A&M Studios for the session. “Plastic City,” “And Then You Know What He Did,” and “He Walked Right Through the Door” (previously reported as “And Then He Walked Through the Door”) were all recorded by Warwick, but never released. Bobby (“Little Green Apples”) Russell wrote the lyrics for “And Then You Know What He Did” and “Plastic City,” while Pulitzer and Tony-winning playwright Neil Simon penned the words to “He Walked Right Through the Door.” The latter was reportedly intended for a proposed film version of the 1968 Broadway musical Promises, Promises, which Simon co-wrote with Bacharach and David. (“And Then You Know What He Did” has also just appeared on a 25-song compilation entitled Dionne Warwick Sings Burt Bacharach, available as an exclusive in conjunction with the PBS special Burt Bacharach’s Best. Read our review here for more information on both the special and the song!) Following the recording of these three songs, Bacharach and Warwick didn’t work together again for a decade. But that’s a story for another day.
Taken as a whole, these nineteen songs represent the single most important release from Dionne Warwick’s legendary catalogue in many years. Both The Complete Warner Bros. Singles and We Need to Go Back: The Unissued Warner Bros. Masters feature new liner notes from Paul Howes (author of indispensable Dusty Springfield resource The Complete Dusty Springfield) drawing on quotes from Dionne. Jim Pierson, a longtime Bacharach champion and a producer of Burt Bacharach’s Best and Dionne Warwick Sings Burt Bacharach, has produced both releases for Real Gone Music.
The Complete Warner Bros. Singles and We Need to Go Back: The Unissued Warner Bros. Masters arrive in stores on July 30, and can be pre-ordered at the links below!
Dionne Warwick, The Complete Warner Bros. Singles (Real Gone Music, 2013)
- If We Only Have Love (WB 7560, 1972)
- Close to You (WB 7560, 1972)
- I Think You Need Love (WB 7669, 1973)
- Don’t Let My Teardrops Bother You (WB 7669, 1973)
- (I’m) Just Being Myself (WB 7693, 1973)
- You’re Gonna Need Me (WB 7693, 1973)
- Sure Thing (WBS 8026, 1973)
- Who Knows (WBS 8026, 1973)
- Take It from Me (WBS 8088, 1975)
- It’s Magic (WBS 8088, 1975)
- Once You Hit the Road (WBS 8154, 1975)
- World of My Dreams (WBS 8154, 1975)
- His House and Me (WBS 8183, 1976)
- Ronnie Lee (WBS 8183, 1976)
- I Didn’t Mean to Love You (WBS 8280, 1976)
- He’s Not for You (WBS 8280, 1976)
- Do You Believe in Love at First Sight (WBS 8419, 1977)
- Do I Have to Cry (WBS 8419, 1977)
- Keepin’ My Head Above Water (WBS 8501, 1977)
- Livin’ It Up Is Startin’ to Get Me Down (cat. no. TBD)
- Don’t Ever Take Your Love Away (WBS 8530, 1977)
Dionne Warwick, We Need to Go Back: The Unissued Warner Bros. Masters (Real Gone Music, 2013)
- Too Far Out of Reach
- It Hurts Me So
- Give a Little Laughter
- You are the Sunlight and I Am the Moon
- The Laughter and the Tears
- We Need to Go Back
- Someone Else Gets the Prize
- And Then You Know What He Did
- Plastic City
- He Walked Right Through the Door
- Meant to Be
- One Last Memory
- I Found Someone Else
- Make a Little Love to Me
- Am I Too Late
- Rest Your Love on Me
- I’ll Never Make It Easy
- Keep Me Warm
- Room Enough
All tracks previously unreleased.
Tracks 1-2 produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland
Tracks 3-5 produced by Randy Edelman
Tracks 6-7 produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valarie Simpson
Tracks 8-10 produced by Burt Bacharach
Track 11 produced by Jerry Ragovoy
Tracks 12-13 produced by Thom Bell
Tracks 14-18 produced by Joe Porter
Track 19 produced by Steve Barri and Michael Omartian