For all the hits that Burt Bacharach wrote (usually though not always in partnership with Hal David) over the course of his long career, many records featuring his songwriting never got a wide hearing, even though these were often by popular singers with chart singles to their credit. Always Something There: A Burt Bacharach Collectors' Anthology 1952-1969 has 26 such rarities, most of them from the early- to mid-'60s, though there are a few stray items from the '50s (and a 1969 Dionne Warwick non-LP B-side, "Dream Sweet Dreamer"). These aren't on par with the best hits (or even best non-hits) Bacharach had a hand in, most of which are represented on the box set The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection. If you're motivated to go even a little further than that box and Dionne Warwick's catalog, however, this (as well as Raven's two-CD set The Rare Bacharach, Vol. 1, which has almost no overlap with Always Something There) is recommended further listening. First off, obscurities by many major artists are represented, including Gene Pitney, Jackie DeShannon, Del Shannon, Trini Lopez, Brook Benton, Doris Day, Della Reese, Marty Robbins, and Gene Vincent. Also, there are some rare original versions of songs that became more famous in the hands of others, most notably Don & Juan's "True Love Never Runs Smooth" (which was given its definitive interpretation by Pitney) and "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" (here represented by Lou Johnson's 1964 single). Most importantly, there are some pretty good tunes here, many of which bear not only Bacharach's unmistakable melodic slant, but also (whether he's credited or not) the kind of trademark lush-but-tasteful orchestration/production heard on many of his celebrated hits.
It's true that none of these tunes, other than perhaps "True Love Never Runs Smooth" and "If I Never Get to Love You" (here heard as done by Gene Pitney), are really outstanding; it's also true that many of them tend to remind you of other, better compositions in which Bacharach took part. But there are nonetheless some pretty nifty items here, whether it's Lopez's highly creditable "Made in Paris"; Burt & the Backbeats' 1961 single "Move It on the Backbeat," sung by sisters Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick; or the very first Bacharach tune to find vinyl release, Nat King Cole's 1952 instrumental "Once in a Blue Moon." Superbly annotated by Mick Patrick, it also sparks hope that other such Bacharach rarity compilations can be assembled, as Serene Dominic's book Burt Bacharach: Song by Song makes it clear that there are quite a few other interesting seldom heard tracks that might be worthy of reissue.