My Friends & Meby Dionne Warwick
My Friends & Me, Dionne Warwick's collection of duets that revisit her classic recordings, benefits from her many talented friends in the music industry, but most of all from a family member. Her son Damon Elliott has worked with his mother for close to ten years, when he's not producing for contemporary hitmakers Pink, Destiny's Child, Jessica Simpson, Kelis, and Mya. Elliott's production for this record is engaging and charming, right up to the minute digitally on the rhythm end, but with plenty of space within the tracks to echo the airy productions of Warwick's long-time producer, Burt Bacharach. Also, Elliott kept most of these versions piano-based and added a tight backing chorus that is virtually necessary for anyone familiar with the original "Walk on By" or "Anyone Who Had a Heart." Dionne Warwick's voice, however, hasn't aged as well as her contemporaries, and the record often resembles a tribute album whose subject only stops by occasionally. (More often than not, the guests are featured more than Warwick herself.) The only track with radical changes is "The Windows of the World," which is presented with no less than four vocal guests (Angie Stone, Chanté Moore, Deborah Cox, Da Brat) and in a version that allows Da Brat to rap on the state of the world between the lines of the verses. Elsewhere, highlights come with Cyndi Lauper's quiet, pleading version of "Message to Michael," Kelis' "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," and Wynonna Judd's surprisingly smoky "Anyone Who Had a Heart."
- Release Date:
- Concord Records
Performance CreditsDionne Warwick Primary Artist,Vocals
Gloria Estefan Vocals
Celia Cruz Vocals
Da Brat Rap
Wynonna Judd Vocals
Angie Stone Vocals
Deborah Cox Vocals
Teddy Harmon Bass,Keyboards
Grecco Buratto Guitar
Lisa Tucker Track Performer
Damon Elliott Drums,Keyboards
Technical CreditsDionne Warwick Liner Notes,Executive Producer
Terry Steele Composer
Burt Bacharach Composer
Richard Kerr Composer
Adrienne Anderson Composer
John Burk Producer,Executive Producer
Hal David Composer
Isaac Hayes Composer
Will Jennings Composer
Sherman Marshall Composer
Teddy Harmon Programming,Producer
Damon Elliott Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer,Executive Producer,Audio Production
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This latest effort by the dazzing Dionne into her recorded history and remaking it again, hits and misses for me. Granted, Dionne is a living legend and celebrating 45 years in show business. Her style is still impecable. Her class beyond description. A fun duets package, yes, but choice of material not totally up to par for this long-time fan. The original project was suppose to be a double-CD as described a few years ago with one disc being female song partners (as this edition is) and the second CD being with male song partners. I would have waited until it was all done. However, if this does well, the follow-up will be the male duets album. I do not like rap personally, and I think it should've been left off WINDOWS OF THE WORLD. The three ladies that sing with Dionne do an amazing job, but the rap could've been left off. I do not like the hip-hop sound on THEN CAME YOU. That should have remained Classic Soul. I'm surprised Deja Vu did not have a duet partner, as I was expecting it to have one. Would've loved Anita Baker to join Dionne on this one. I could not recognize Gloria Estefan on WALK ON BY until well into the chorus. Someone on the team needs to realize that RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MY HEAD, CLOSE TO YOU and LOVE WILL FIND A WAY were not hits for Dionne. Close To You was a B-side that charted briefly, and oversighted until The Carpenters took it to Number 1 in 1970. Raindrops will always be former Scepter label-mate BJ Thomas's song, and though Love Will Find A Way was on a very overlooked Dionne album (1993's under-promoted masterpiece FRIENDS CAN BE LOVERS), it was never a single in this country or elsewhere (that I'm aware of) even with the duet partner of cousin, Whitney Houston at the time. It is lovely that Dionne sings with her granddaughter Cheyenne on this track, but it doesn't have the punch of the original. The other two songs should have been substituted with other hits Dionne had from Scepter or Arista like You'll Never Get To Heaven, A House Is Not A Home, Heartbreaker, No Night So Long, etc. The true standouts are I'LL NEVER LOVE THIS WAY AGAIN with Gladys Knight, which should be the first radio single. It is beautifully done. MESSAGE TO MICHAEL follows it beautifully with Cyndi Lauper's soulful approach and Di's new take. I was a big fan of the salsa version of DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE when it was first done with Celia Cruz on Dionne's 1998 remake DIONNE SINGS DIONNE, and has been made even hotter here with more spice in the arrangement, Dionne's new vocal and a remix of Celia's original vocal letting us know she is not forgotten. This updated version could really be a dance club hit in this version, and in an alternate remix to be extended past 6 minutes (should it be considered). It is a nice effort, and for Dionne devotees, a must. Everyone else will have to make their own decision. I'm afraid most will stick with the original classic songs on many Best Of's out there.
A legend. There's no doubt about it. But during the last couple of years her once golden voice have declined a lot due to her obsessive smoking, and it shows BIG time on this record. Many of the duets are lovely (especially "I'll Never Love This Again" with gal pal Gladys Knight), but otherwise, Dionne's voice just isn't there. Her pitch is all over the place, and her frog-like croaking actually borders the "has been" line. Dionne is by no means a has been, but the state her voice is in is bound to break the hearts of many Dionne followers. Dionne was once one of the world's best critically acclaimed singers and she still is, unfortunately her instrument is no longer working.
I've seen Dionne in concert 46 times in the past 15 years and I've heard her promote this particular project in her concerts for the past 5 years or so. I was expecting something far more magical then what we got. I find it a challenge to say anything negative about Dionne, she's by far one of the greatest singers of all time. But she missed the mark with this one. Most Dionne fans had hoped that we'd be treated to a CD of new music and still hope this will come someday. To revise the old classics yet again, well, I would have picked better songs and a few better partners. Most tracks sound like the duet partners clearly recorded their parts seperately. And the arrangements, we can't forget the classic style of Bacharach and David - but they did. Walk on By and Wishing and Hoping are two that come to mind, both of which sound like Karaokee versions of the song. And, while I appreciate the gesture, to sing with the great Dionne you need to be a singer of her magnitude. Cyndi, Wynonna, Olivia, Gladys - sure. But the rest of you, way out of your league! I'm also so very disappointed that a project that would take so long would be called "duets" when one of the songs (San Jose) is a rehashing of a previously released version (Dionne has thousands of songs, find a new one!!) and Deja Vu was not a duet (they should be lined up to sing with Dionne). I've read lots of comments about Dionne's Grandaugher's vocals and I will say is "good for you sweetie"...if I had the chance to sing with your Grandmother - I would !!!