Dionne Warwick found her career at a crossroads in 1978. She was without a recording contract and even contemplating retiring. Her final album for Warner Bros, 1977s Love At First Sight had failed to chart and Dionne hadn’t had an album certified gold since 1968s Dionne Warwick In the Valley of the Dolls. That was until Dionne met Arista Records founder Clive Davis. He knew Dionne well, and felt she’d be a good signing for Arista, so approached her about signing to Arista. After thinking about it, Dionne signed for Arista. Her first album for Arista, Dionne became her most successful album, and was certified platinum. The next two albums Dionne released for Arista, 1980s No Light So Long and 1982s Friends In Love failed to match the success of Dionne. What was needed for Dionne’s fourth album for Arista, was a new songwriting and production team, one who could rejuvenate Dionne Warwick’s career. As sometimes happens, fate intervened.
Andy Gibb asked to meet Clive Davis for lunch in Miami. After lunch, Andy broached the subject of working with one of Arista’s roster. Clive hadn’t anyone in mind, but when Andy Gibb looked down the list of artists, he picked out Dionne Warwick. Andy wanted to work with Dionne, and Clive mindful of The Bee Gees’ work with Barbara Streisand on Guilty was both shocked and intrigued. A week later, Clive Davis received a demo of the album The Bee Gees had in mind for Dionne…Heartbreaker. With songs from The Bee Gees and the production team of Andy Gibb, Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson work became on an album that would become one of the biggest commercial successes of Dionne Warwick’s career Heartbreaker. Before I tell you about the music in Heartbreaker, which will be rereleased on 17th September 2012, by BBR Records, I’ll tell you about the background to the album.
For Heartbreaker, Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb cowrote five tracks, including the two singles Heartbreaker and All the Love In the World. Co-producer Albhy Galuten collaborated with the Gibbs on four tracks, including co-writing three tracks with Barry Gibb. Albhy also cowrote I Can’t See Anything (But You) with Barry and Marice Gibb. Bob Hilliard and Mort Carson cowrote the other track, Our Day Will Come, which closes Heartbreaker. The ten tracks on Heartbreaker would be recorded by the Gibb, Galuten Richardson production team at Criteria Studios, Miami.
The Gibb, Galuten, Richardson partnership was established in 1977 and were one of the hottest production teams of the time. They’d worked on albums by The Bee Gees’ Spirits Having Flown and Barbara Streisand’s Guilty. With a track-record like that, Gibb, Galuten, Richardson were perfect for rejuvenating Dionne’s career. They recorded Heartbreaker in Miami, at Criteria Studios. Accompanying Dionne were a band that included a rhythm section of drummer Steve Gadd, bassist George Perry and guitarists Tim Renwick and George Terry. George Bitzer played synths, Gary Brown saxophone and percussionist Joe Lala. A string section was recorded at Mediasound Studios in New York and the Boneroo Horns were recorded at the Middle Ear Studios in Miami. Once the recording was completed in early 1982, Heartbreaker would be released in October 1982, giving Dionne her first gold album since 1968.
On the release of Heartbreaker in October 1982, it reached number twenty-five in the US Billboard 200 and number thirteen in the US R&B Charts, resulting in the second gold disc of Dionne’s career. Heartbreaker was the first single released in October 1982, reaching number ten in the US Billboard 100 and number fourteen in the US R&B Charts. Take the Short Way Home was released as a single in January 1983, but only reached number forty-one in the US Billboard 100 and number forty-three in the US R&B Charts. The final single released in the US was All the Love In the World, in May 1983, which reached just number 101 in the US Billboard 100. Over the Atlantic in the UK, Heartbreaker proved just as successful.
When Heartbreaker was released in October 1982, It reached number three, and was certified platinum. Heartbreaker was the first single released in the UK in October 1982, reaching number two. All the Love In the World was released in December 1982, reaching number ten in December 1982. Yours was the final single released in March 1983, but reached just number sixty-six. With the Gibbs’ songwriting skills and the production skills of Gibb, Galuten, Richardson Heartbreaker rejuvenated Dionne Warwick’s career. However, what made Heartbreaker such a huge success?
Heartbreaker opens with the lead single Heartbreaker, penned by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. With its slick, polished production it’s the perfect way to open Heartbreaker and sets the tone for the album. It’s got the Gibb, Galuten, Richardson sound, with a bold combination of keyboards, rhythm section, chiming guitars and lush strings combining with Dionne’s heartfelt vocal. Straight away, you can hear a much different sound to that on Dionne. This is best described as bolder, sleeker and with a plentiful supply of hooks. As a piano drifts in and out of the track, lush strings cascade, while the Gibbs add tight harmonies to Dionne’s powerful, emotive, vocal. Later, the piano and guitar combine, as Dionne rolls back the years, unleashing a soaring vocal full of emotion and hurt. Truly, it’s a classic track from Dionne Warwick, and signals that she was back.
It Makes No Difference was the second single released from Heartbreaker in the US. It was written by Barry Gibb and Andy Galuten, and has a slightly tougher sound and lacks the polished sheen of Heartbreaker. This is no bad thing, and suits the song. Keyboards and the rhythm section combine as Dionne delivers a vocal full of sadness, resignation and frustration. The Gibbs add their trademark harmonies, while stabs of horns and searing guitars add to the arrangement’s drama. Strings glide in, adding to the emotion, while the drama and heartache grow, as this mini-soap opera reveals its hidden secrets.
Yours is the second of the five tracks written by the Gibbs and was released as single in the UK. It sees the tempo drop and drama grow. The arrangement has an understated sound, that takes time to develop as Dionne sings about the fleeting nature of love. With just the piano accompanying Dionne’s emotive vocal, the rhythm section and acoustic guitar add drama to the understated arrangement. Dionne delivers a vocal that’s tinged with loneliness and disbelief, that so soon, love is gone. Gradually, the arrangement builds, matching the emotion and power in Dionne’s vocal. Strings reflect the sadness in Dionne’s vocal, while later, the rhythm section reflect the drama, turmoil and power in her voice. A combination of Dionne’s heartfelt, emotive vocal and Gibb, Galuten, Richardson’s inspired production make this one of the most moving tracks on Heartbreaker.
Take The Short Way Home is very different from the previous track, with the style and tempo changing. Crucial to the track’s success is a swaggering rhythm that’s truly irresistible. Add in punchy blazing horns from the Boneroo Horns and a sassy vocal from Dionne and we’re hearing a quite different side to Dionne Warwick. That sashaying rhythm is combined with warm, melodic keyboards and breathy harmonies from the Gibbs. Dionne seems to relish the change of style, delivering a sassy vocal. Later, the horns that punctuate the arrangement and lush, dancing strings prove to be just the finishing touch to the funky arrangement. Thirty years later, not only has this track aged well, but is quite irresistible and one of the highlights of Heartbreaker.
Misunderstood is another track written by the Gibb brothers, and from the opening bars, you can tell they penned this track. Sometimes, there’s even brief similarities with Heartbreaker during some of the chord changes. Searing guitars, keyboards and the rhythm section combine with Dionne’s vocal, as she delivers her vocal quickly, with the Gibbs adding cascading harmonies. Soon, Dionne’s vocal grows in power, displaying a mixture of sadness and regret. As the arrangement flows along, strings add to the sadness, while the piano and harmonies play important roles. The harmonies are the perfect accompaniment to Dionne’s vocal and the interplay between them, plays in an important part in the song’s effectiveness.
Of the three singles released from Heartbreaker, I always though All The Love In The World should’ve been a bigger commercial success. With just the rhythm section, keyboards and guitar accompanying her, Dionne delivers one of her best vocals on Heartbreaker. She uses her full vocal range, starting way down, quickly combining power and passion. The arrangement is one of the best on Heartbreaker, with the Gibb, Galuten, Richardson production team adding crucial parts at the optimum time. Strings sweep in elegantly, add to the emotion in Dionne’s vocal, the rhythm section and guitar solos add to the drama, as the arrangement builds and the Gibb’s harmonies add to the payoff. It’s a masterful arrangement, one that stirs the emotions and tugs at your heartstrings with its beautiful sound.
I Can’t See Anything (But You) is a track that Barry and Maurice Gibb cowrote with Albhy Galuten. Straight away, the rhythm and horn section combine to create a bold, dramatic sound. When Dionne’s vocal enters, it’s tender, but quickly grows in power as the arrangement unfolds around her. At the bridge, strings sweep and swirl furiously, while a piano and the rhythm section create a hugely, dramatic, thunderous backdrop. Things calm down, but all the time, Dionne’s vocal weaves its way through the arrangement, seamlessly mixing power and passion with emotion and feeling.
With just a keyboards accompanying Dionne, Just One More Night allows her vocal to take centre-stage. What follows is something of a vocal tour de force, with Dionne’s using her full vocal range and displaying her gospel roots. Her vocal is filled with longing and loneliness, matched by sadness and sanguiness. Strings sweep in, their lush sound being joined by a dramatic burst from the rhythm section as Dionne breathes meaning and life into the lyrics. A rasping saxophone solo from Gary Brown is added at just the right time, adding to the emotion and effectiveness of the arrangement. What makes the track is a vocal masterclass from Dionne, where she fuses R&B with her gospel roots and injects energy, emotion and meaning into the song, making it her very own.
You Are My Love is the last song penned by the Gibbs and sees the tempo increase. Like other tracks on Heartbreaker, the introduction is bold, dramatic and sets the scene for the track. The rhythm section, piano and sizzling guitars combine with Dionne’s desperate vocal. Her vocal is tinged with worry and fear, fear at losing the man she loves and believes in. Dionne delivers her vocal quickly, while the arrangement quickly grows. Flourishes of strings, punchy harmonies, bursts of drama from the rhythm section all play their part in bold, melodramatic arrangement, while Dionne’s vocal is tinged with pathos and poignancy.
Closing Heartbreaker is a cover version of Ruby and The Romantics 1963 single Our Day Will Come. It has a lovely floaty arrangement, where percussion, keyboards, chiming guitars and a piano combining with Dionne’s tender vocal. She transforms the track, with her vocal. Similarly, the arrangement transforms the track. Lush strings are added and later, Gary Brown lays down a blazing saxophone solo and so do the brief bursts of punchy harmonies. They play their part in the arrangements beautiful, melodic and elegant sound. Although very different from the preceding tracks, it’s the perfect way to end Heartbreaker.
Although Heartbreaker never matched the commercial success of 1979s Dionne, I actually prefer Heartbreaker. Both Dionne and Heartbreaker feature Dionne Warwick at her very best, during what was an Indian Summer in her career. Of the two albums, Heartbreaker features a stronger set of songs. Mind you, with the Barry, Maurice and Robbin Gibb writing five of the tracks and co-writing four other tracks, that’s no surprise. They were at the height of their success when they wrote these songs, having just scored success with Barbara Streisand’s Guilty album. While the Gibb brothers played their part in making Dionne’s fourth Arista album Heartbreaker a success, so did the Gibb, Galuten, Richardson production team. They were responsible for slick, polished production where soul, funk R&B and gospel are fused by Dionne. The Gibb, Galuten, Richardson production team were also at the height of their success. They seemed to have the uncanny knack of adding each part of the arrangement at the perfect time. Just when you sense a track could do with strings to add emotion or a burst of the rhythm section or horns to add drama, it’s magically added. However, regardless of how good the songs were, or how polished and professional the production was, what made Heartbreaker such a huge success was Dionne Warwick’s voice. Her career had been revived with 1979s Dionne, but her next two albums weren’t as successful Heartbreaker was her fourth album for Arista and the best of the quartet. Not only is Dionne Warwick at her very best on Heartbreaker, which will be rereleased on 17th September 2012, by BBR Records, where she give more than a fleeting glimpse of the vocal prowess that made her one of the biggest soul singers of the sixties seventies. By 1982, she was Now into her third decade as a recording artist and Dionne Warwick was proof of the maxim that form was temporary, while class is permanent. Standout Tracks: Heartbreaker, Yours, All The Love In The World and Just One More Night.