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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Box Set Reviews > The Look of Love - The Burt Bacharach Collection

 

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Various Artists

The Look of Love - The Burt Bacharach Collection (Rhino R2 75339) 1999

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Description:
Just because Burt Bacharach has become a kitschy icon in the cocktail nation, don't underestimate him.  He is one of the greatest songwriters of popular music his body of work is a worthy competition to Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, even George and Ira Gershwin.  Burt Bacharach's little teenaged symphonies are as complicated and heartfelt as popular music can get.  Not only that, he has a way with a tune that is so complex and yet so simple that it impossible to ignore.  Particularly, the songs he wrote with brilliant lyricist Hal David, are brilliant fusion of sound and imagery.
What's Good About It?
Two words: Dionne Warwick.  The voice behind Bacharach & David's greatest tunes helped them create some of the most wonderful soul music in history.  "Walk On By," "I Say A Little Prayer," "Do You Know the Way To San Jose," the list goes on and on.  The box also sheds a light on one of the great forgotten soul voices Lou Johnson was a male Warwick who gelled with the writers as perfectly, creating such classics as "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" and "Kentucky Bluebird (Send a Message to Martha)."  Bacharach also has a formidable history as a pen for hire, writing some of the definitive tunes for artists as varied as the Shirelles ("Baby It's You"), Gene Pitney ("The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"), Bobby Vinton ("Blue on Blue"), Cilla Black ("Alfie"), Herb Alpert ("This Guy's In Love With You"), B.J. Thomas ("Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"), the Carpenters ("Close To You"), the Fifth Dimension ("One Less Bell To Answer"), Christopher Cross ("Arthur's Theme") and Patti LaBelle ("On My Own").
What's Bad About It?
A few silly novelty tunes strewn about like Bobby Goldsboro's "Me Japanese Boy I Love You," The Five Blobs' "The Blob" and Tom Jones' "What's New Pussycat?" (a big hit, but the worse song ever by both Bacharach and the brilliant singer Jones) are needless distractions, but it helps to paint the complete picture.
What's Missing?
With such a long and diverse career, of course you'll miss a few things, but there isn't too much that didn't make the cut.  Personally, I'd like to see Dusty Springfield's version of "I Don't Know What To Do With Myself" and some more newer songs like Naked Eyes' version of "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" or Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack's "Maybe."
Popentertainment.com final grade: A
This is as perfect as popular music can get.  You will be listening in amazement, thinking, "He wrote that?" on a nearly constant basis.  Just look at the list of songs above.  And that is less than half the songs on the box set.  It is a truly inspiring argument to add Burt Bacharach to the ranks of the all-time greats.

Jay S. Jacobs