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I Want to Be With You - The Mercury/Blue Rock Sessions

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Album Review

It wasn't for lack of talent that Dee Dee Warwick never approached the mainstream superstardom of her more famous older sister. As a sort of companion to She Didn't Know: The Atco Sessions, this generous 26-track collection compiles everything she recorded for the titular label from 1965-1969, with two tracks from a later 1973 session. The younger Warwick's rawer approach was closer to Aretha's but, when she slides into the high notes, the similarities to sister Dionne are obvious. Although revered by soul authorities as a great talent, when listening to these tracks it's easy to hear why she never clicked with the general public. For all her obvious vocal talents, there aren't enough great songs that draw attention to her fabulous gospel-driven voice. Additionally, like Dusty Springfield, her best assets are often buried behind a fussy and overbearing production that does neither her, nor these tunes, any favors. Ranging from pop-soul to R&B, the various producers add strings, backing vocals, horns, and at times everything short of Phil Spector in an effort to bolster some of these weak songs, but the results generally don't justify the effort. Even the great Philadelphia team of Gamble & Huff can't create sparks on the few tracks they are involved with. That said, there are enough gems scattered throughout to justify this disc's existence, especially since it marks the first CD appearance of many of these heretofore rare songs. Warwick lays into the bluesy "That's Not Love" like Etta James, causing distortion as she hauls off and wails with soul-searing power. The obscure Goffin & King tune "Yours Until Tomorrow," best-known from Gene Pitney's version, is a should-have-been hit, as is the original version of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," later a smash when the Temptations and the Supremes took it to the charts. Ultimately, Warwick was a substantial talent who didn't find her niche, or land songwriters of the Bacharach/David stature to guide her. This worthy collection — predominantly taken from the original masters but still sounding thin and sometimes shrill — is an important historical item for die-hard '60s soul fans, but disappointing for the casual listener.


Born: 1945 in Newark, NJ

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Like Darlene Love and Cissy Houston, Dee Dee Warwick's considerable gifts as a soul singer were mostly confined to session work. And like Aretha Franklin's sisters, Dee Dee had to struggle with the shadow of a superstar sibling, Dionne Warwick. Certainly she had the talent to compete as an artist in her own right, but she only had a sporadic run of small hits in the 1960s and early '70s, and benefited from neither frequent recording opportunities nor substantial promotion from her labels. Dee Dee...
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I Want to Be With You - The Mercury/Blue Rock Sessions, Dee Dee Warwick
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