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Anyone who had a Heart - Dionne Warwick / Cilla Black

"Don't Make Me Over" (see last post) was the first of seven consecutive US Hot 100 hits written and produced by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, including the classic "Walk On By" the song with which she is most often associated. From the release of "Don't Make Me Over", in 1962 until she split with Bacharach/ David a decade later in 1972, Warwick was the second most successful female vocalist on the US Billboard Hot 100 after Aretha Franklin, totting up 34 chart entries, 32 of which were written by the pair. However, she was not nearly so successful in Europe, and in the UK, accumulating only 3 Top Twenty hits over the same period.

At a time when the US music scene was swamped by successive waves of the "British Invasion", for American artists the holy grail was UK success which, once cracked, would open the gates to Europe. Warwick was always bitter about this, and understandably so, as she was, time after time, the victim of music industry wheeling and dealing, which often meant that her American hits were covered by established white English artists who outsold her US originals in the UK.

The first example of this was her first really big hit in the US, "Anyone Who Had a Heart" which was, in turn, Cilla Black's first UK hit, reaching number one in 1964. Warwick had to work with and interpret the original material of the song, and allegedly recorded her version on the first take, no mean feat as the song was the first pop song to ever use "polyrhythms" - that is using two different rhythms at the same time - and she later claimed that Cilla's version was a dead copy of it, saying that if she'd accidently coughed in the original, Cilla would have coughed too. Personally, I think she's wrong - almost right from the start - from the first "knowing I love you" Cilla is "letting it out" much more than Dionne's modulated emotion, but compare them yourselves.

To make things worse, Warwick claims that while touring in the UK in 1964 she told Cilla that she was thinking of releasing Umberto Bindi's "You're My World" which Cilla promptly recorded and released before Dionne had time to get back to America, to give her her second number one. In Europe, Warwick also lost out with "Heart", this time to Petula Clark, who already had had a stream of hits on the continent.

What hurt her the most, was that Bacharach and David, who wrote most of her songs and produced all of her early records, quite often approved the cover versions of her British rivals. Dusty Springfield had a US hit with "Wishin' and Hopin", Sandie Shaw her breakthrough number one with "(Always) Something There to Remind Me" and Bacharach further upset Warwick when for the US tv programme "Great Performances" which was doing a feature on him, he chose Cilla's version of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" over hers, just in case she wasn't still hurting.

Back in the sixties, commissioned to write the theme tune for the film "Alfie", Bacharach suggested Warwick should record it, but the film producers preferred Cilla as the film was British; in the event, although Cilla had the hit, they got Cher to record the version used for the film. So maybe Dionne shouted "Don't Make Me Over " (see last post) in vain, although her version was the biggest hit in the US a year later.

As to which version of "Anyone Who Had a Heart" is better, I leave it to you to decide.

The success of Cilla's version is best understood by British listeners and is still, 56 years later, the best selling UK single by any female British recording artist. When it came out in 1964, the Liverpudlian Cilla was the the friend and Brian Epstein stablemate of the Beatles who had just taken the pop world by storm. Right from the start, Cilla came across as everybody's kid sister, "our pet" as the phrase would have it, who all the neighbourhood were amazed had emerged like a giant butterfly out of a shy cocoon to belt out a power ballad and take it to the top of the charts. She was the epitome of "local girl made good" and loved accordingly.

Dionne Warwick's version, on the other hand, is more tender, more controlled, her voice has greater range, and her emphases are more subtle. But maybe be this isn't what the song requires. So which is it? Passion or subtlety? Cilla or Dionne? Your votes and opinions to please. Fistfight in the studio.

And as for Dionne's bitterness, we've all been there, we find some good clothes because we have the taste, and take the time to go looking for them, and the rich kids down the road see us wearing them and buy them straight off, or we find a good band, tell them and they snap up all the tickets, when they never in a millions years would have the background to have come across the band themselves. Or when people steal our good ideas, our songs, our poetry, our opinions, our achievements even, and pass them off as theirs.

It's best to just let it go. But it's not easy.


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