On Stage and in the Movies

Dionne Warwick

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On Stage and in the Movies Review

by William Ruhlmann

The distance between the Brill Building and Broadway is literally nothing at all in real geographic terms; the Brill Building is located on Broadway, in fact. And it was not unusual, even as late as 1967, for a performer established in pop music to seek crossover success by performing standards from the Broadway stage. Dionne Warwick had dipped into the musical theater songbook previously, but, as its title indicated, On Stage and in the Movies consisted entirely of songs from shows and films, or almost so, anyway. (In an awkwardly arranged medley, "One Hand, One Heart" from West Side Story was fused to "With These Hands," an independent song originally introduced by Nelson Eddy and recorded for hits by various artists including Eddie Fisher and, most recently, Tom Jones.) And all but one of them actually originated on-stage, the exception being "The Way You Look Tonight" (from the 1936 Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers picture Swing Time), although several were used in the movie versions of the musicals in which they were first sung. Warwick's regular songwriter/producers, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, produced the disc, and Bacharach served as arranger/conductor. The result was mediocre, both because Bacharach's charts were pedestrian for the most part, and because Warwick displayed no particular feel for the material, sounding as if she'd first encountered the songs at the recording sessions. An exception was the playful reading of "Anything You Can Do," actually an uncredited duet with Chuck Jackson that took liberties with the melody. Warwick's alto, with its dark edges and occasionally swallowed syllables, may have been ideal for the irregular, minor-key melodies of Bacharach's own compositions, but it was not suited for the more presentational style of songs like "He (She) Loves Me" and "I Believe in You." "Anything You Can Do" showed that she and Bacharach were not necessarily out of their depth on Broadway, but the rest of the album revealed that they hadn't put a lot of thought into giving Warwick's Broadway move her personal stamp.

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