The influence of Dionne Warwick is one of the most underappreciated in 1960’s Soul Music. Her smooth, sophisticated work on Scepter Records, especially with Burt Bacharach and Hal David showed a mature, nuanced and complex way that many soul stars imitated.
Coast to Coast after she flew in on the spaceship that was “Don’t Make Me Over,” soul stars, but especially female ones wanted a little of the brooding string and strummed guitar over shifting time signatures magic for themselves. More adult than typical girl group fare, less fiery gospel, Dionne pointed a way for all the starlets moving from their teens into their twenties in a direction that allowed their emotions to be front and center, therapeutic, and in amazing ways, empowered.
Some of these recordings temper the Flügelhorn fancies of Dionne at Bell Sound in Manhattan with Spectorian cloudiness, Motown Drive or Windy City whimsy. Surprisingly, I was able to stay distant enough away from using Bacharach and David covers. However, some rival composer/producer teams like Teddy Randazzo, Mickey Gentile and Jennie Lee Lambert and Bert Keyes are represented here as well.
With the biggest hit here being Dionne’s UK nemesis Cilla Black (on a Lennon & McCarthey tune no less) we can see that like Vandellas Heatwave soundalikes, you can’t exactly match the dominance of your inspiration. At the same time, you can take areas of inspiration and twist it into something beautiful and unique for yourself.
2) A Whole New Plan – Jo Ann Garrett (1966)
3) I’m Coolin, No Foolin – Lesley Gore (1964)
4) Lend A Helping Heart – Joan Moody (1966)
8) I’m Gonna Cry Until My Tears Run Dry – Irma Thomas (1965)
11) Looking In the Mirror – Martha Reeves and The Vandellas (1967)
14) It Could Happen – Paula Wayne (1966)
18) A World Without You – Brenda Holloway (1966)
20) A Little Too Lonely – Marie Knight (1965)
21) Then Came Heartbreak – The Reasons (1965)
23) No Place To Hide – Betty Everett (1965)
24) I Can’t Stand It – Theola Kilgore (1966)
25) Think – Ruby & The Romantics (1966)
26) If You Can’t Say Anything Nice – Verdelle Smith (1966)
27) How Can I Say Goodbye? – The Sapphires (1965)
28) If He Wants Me – The VIPs (1964)