Burt Bacharach

Isn't She Great

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Where the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls had a terrific Dionne Warwick classic in the title track (the biggest of her first 22 Top 40 hits), the reuniting of producer/arranger Burt Bacharach with lyricist Hal David and vocalist Warwick is about as memorable as this biographical film about Jacqueline Susanne, the author of Valley of the Dolls. One problem is failing to utilize the film's star, Bette Midler, on any of the songs here, proving how essential that diva is to both sides of the movie-making experience. Even dialogue from the motion picture would have given this endless middle-of-the-road loop something to hold onto. It sounds like all involved showed up to get their paychecks, manufactured the music off of an assembly line, and maybe had some fun reminiscing about the really great work they all did once upon a time. The album opens up with Warwick singing "On My Way," a nice enough performance with lyrics that -- if not flavored by "Valley of the Dolls" -- sound like they are outtakes from that epic title song over a melody with little staying power. At 13 tracks into the CD, the tune is reprised inside something called "The Book Tour," an instrumental minute and ten seconds before Warwick comes back in with the "Somewhere I will find me a new love" lyric and some mellow Tom Scott sax work. Though Hal David is credited with co-writing all 17 compositions, only two have his words, with Vanessa Williams getting to sound like her "Save the Best for Last" self on "Open Your Heart." There's an interesting theft of the melody lines from "The Look of Love," the 1967 hit from the James Bond film Casino Royale, dipping in and out of "Sexual Me, Sexual You." Too bad they just didn't have Midler sing that Dusty Springfield/Sergio Mendes/Warwick classic. But look at the bright side: The entire 39 minutes and 15 seconds make for good background music. One can stare at the pictures of Bette Midler and Nathan Lane in the eight-page booklet that even includes an ad for the soundtrack to Valley of the Dolls or do some housecleaning while this pleasant exercise spins. A waste of resources.

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