Picks and Pans Review: Dionne Warwick Sings Cole Porter
No one need worry that the great, pre-World War II songwriters were passing fancies. That their songs are here to stay has been reaffirmed by everyone from Linda Ronstadt to Carly Simon.
The latest current pop vocalist to pay her respects is Dionne Warwick, in this album of Cole Porter tunes. Though not altogether a trip to the moon on gossamer wings, it's still a wonderfully buoyant endeavor. With a voice that sounds like coffee percolating. Warwick charges her way through 13 of Porter's intoxicating, seductive hits, from "Night and Day" to "Begin the Beguine."
Strange, dear, but true, dear, the unusual combination of Warwick and Porter works. After hearing the great songwriters precociously warbled by Michael Feinstein, or coldly intellectualized by Maureen McGovern, it's a treat to hear the warm and novel approach taken by Warwick. Her voice, fuller and broader in range than her Burt Bacharach-Hal David hits have displayed, does beautiful justice to "It's All Right with Me," "I Concentrate on You" and "Just One of Those Things."
Each song, while retaining its original fox-trot or tango beat, is given a contemporary pop spin by the use of synthesizers and stylized arrangements. Though an energizing touch, this is not always a good thing. There's so much going on in "Anything Goes." for instance, that Warwick's voice is practically lost.
But if that's the bottom, the top is Warwick's gimmick-free, bluesy jazz reprise of "Night and Day." For a singer who's primarily known for her pop sound. Warwick does a surprisingly fine job of putting over Porter's wry, elegant lyrics.
Still, it's "Love a small percent of me, do," not "too," as Warwick sings. And, "I get no kick from cocaine" has been rewritten to "Some like perfume from Spain." Aw, c'mon, Dionne, we're all for a drug-free America. But when Nancy Reagan said "Just Say No," she didn't mean people should start saying it to Cole Porter here in the anything-goes '90s. (Arista)