The job of the catalog divisions of major record labels is to re-sell music from the companies' catalogs, and when it comes to a vintage artist like Dionne Warwick, record executives wrack their brains to come up with ways to go beyond the basic hits compilations and exploit the many other tracks such a singer cut during her career. One increasingly popular concept is the "Love Songs" album, its release timed to occur around Valentine's Day. Of course, most of Warwick's recordings are love songs of one sort or another, anyway, but the idea usually is to come up with a disc that will accompany the holiday's happy romantic moments. Rhino Records' Warwick Love Songs album, drawn from her Scepter and Warner Bros. Records catalogs of 1964-1976, which arrived more than a month after Valentine's Day 2001, is really a canard. It contains as many love songs as any random selection of 16 Warwick tracks would, which is to say that most of the songs are love songs, although some are not and some are unhappy love songs that aren't appropriate to Valentine's Day ("One Less Bell to Answer," "Jealousy"). But the real title of this album should be something like "A Bunch of Rare and Obscure Dionne Warwick Records, Bated with a Couple of Hits." The hits, of course, come right up front: "You'll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)" (another sentiment not exactly in keeping with the holiday) and "I Say a Little Prayer." For the rest, British soul music expert David Nathan has dug into the Warwick Scepter and Warner catalogs for a collection of LP tracks, B-side singles, and other obscurities, sifting for gems. Certainly, he's found a few. Among the forgotten Bacharach and David compositions that make up Tracks three-nine is "Here Where There Is Love," which easily could have been one of Warwick's hit singles of the '60s, as well as characteristic if minor efforts such as "Whoever You Are, I Love You." Warwick's version of Lesley Duncan's "Love Song" (a tune best known for its inclusion on Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection album) is excellent, and her 1972 re-recording of "Close to You," made after the song became a hit for the Carpenters, is good, too. Still, this is really an album for Warwick completists who will welcome the arrival on CD of "Dream Sweet Dreamer," previously available only as the B-side of the 1969 single "This Girl's in Love with You," and "I Didn't Mean to Love You," Warwick's last R&B chart entry on Warner, which Nathan notes was "withdrawn a few weeks after its original late 1976 release."
Love Songs [Rhino] Review
by William Ruhlmann