Review: “Heartbreaker” by Dionne Warwick (Vinyl, 1982)

Today’s POP RESCUE review is the 1982 LP Heartbreaker from legendary songwriter, Dionne Warwick, but was this an album to love, or did it merely leave you with heartburn? Read on..

Dionne Warwick - Heartbreaker (1982) album cover
Dionne Warwick – Heartbreaker (1982) album

This 10 track LP opens with its lead single Heartbreaker, and from the very first few notes you know exactly what you’re about to get. This song is fantastic. It has a meandering melody that wanders with ease from verse to chorus and back again courtesy of the strings, piano, and a simple pop beat. Dionne sounds immaculate here, and she’s joined by Barry Gibb of Bee Gees, who as a trio, take writer credits for six of the ten tracks here, with Barry as a writer on 9 of them, and musician and producer of the album over all. The Bee Gee influence is strong here, and in my childhood I was confused to discover this wasn’t a Bee Gee song. It quite rightly gave Dionne a #2 UK hit single.

It Makes No Difference is next, and this takes a slower tempo, giving Dionne a warm and heartfelt emotive song to sing. The track flows effortless and Dionne is joined by Barry on backing vocals for the chorus, which helps to lift the song even higher. A really nice second song.

That’s followed by Yours, a big ballad type song, and with it backed by plenty of strings. This combination faulters for me though, as it ultimately sounds like a big proud slice of show-tune fromage. Dionne certainly gets to show off her vocals though, but ultimately the single failed to repeat success, and stumbled at #66 in the UK singles chart.

Next is Take The Short Way Home and this too was a single, but it seemingly wasn’t released in the UK. That in itself is a huge shame as this song has a wonderfully funky disco feel to it, and one that sounds even more right at home when Barry’s backing vocals join in. That Bee Gee sound flows fairly prominently, expertly woven around Dionne’s vocals. Her vocals are also given a nice range of notes to hit, which of course she does so flawlessly.

Side One closes with Misunderstood, and this track has plenty of pano and guitars. It’s a mid-tempo gentle little song, easing us slowly towards the LP break. Once again, Dionne’s delivery is perfect, resulting in a really nice track.

Side Two opens with second single All The Love In The World. I remember hearing this occasionally as a child, and so it’s nice to hear it repeated here, allowing to finally recognise it has having been one of Dionne’s. It takes a little while to get the melody from the first verse, but the chorus is so wonderful that by the time you’ve heard that once, you’re set. The song builds up wonderfully, and Dionne really shines here. This single gave her a #10 UK hit.

By contrast, it’s I Can’t See Anything (But You), which is a slow number, but it is just quite disorientating in verse and chorus. It feels lyrically and melody clunky. Dionne does what she can with it, but the song’s structure makes it jarring alongside the songs so far.

Just One More Night is next, and we’re heading back to form. Again, we’re in safe ballad territory, but the song builds up into something that actually unleashes a load of energy from within Dionne’s vocals. A simple beat carries you through, and the saxophone and Barry return in just the right measures. It’s a great little song.

Next is You Are My Love and this has a nice bass, synth (or guitar?), pop feeling to it. The vocals really shine here, and Dionne throws yet more huge vocal moments. Barry’s backing vocals join in in the chorus, giving it a perfect balance. This is a great track, and should have been the single replacement to Yours.

The album closes with its only non-Bee Gee penned song, and the album’s only cover Our Day Will Come. This was a hit in 1962 for the American group Ruby and The Romantics. Dionne’s version is a nice slinky track, that builds effortlessly as soft percussion, strings, bass, and vocals join in. Dionne’s vocals are immaculate here, and there’s the occasional waft of breathy backing vocals from Barry. A saxophone solo sits perfectly in the middle, and leads us into the final half of the song, and the end of the LP. It’s a nice ending to the album.

Dionne Warwick’s lead and titular single ‘Heartbreaker’ (1982).

Verdict

Over all, this album is almost a Bee Gees album. Barry’s production, musicianship, and backing vocals, along with his co-writing with Albhy Galuten, and the entirely-penned Bee Gee tracks ensures that their familiar sound is throughout.

Despite this strong imposing source, Dionne of course also comes with her huge musical accomplishment too, and she really puts her stamp on all of the songs herein with her vocals. Whilst the Bee Gees’ style might echo 1970’s disco hits, Dionne’s warm vocals transcends that from the 1960’s through to this 1982 point, making the album sound warmly familiar but also fresh.

The UK singles Heartbreaker and All The Love In The World are naturally highlights on this album, but they’re joined by Take The Short Way Home and You Are My Love. The low points are few, but I Can’t See Anything (But You) and Yours meet the criteria. However, they’re nestled perfectly amongst some wonderful tracks that it is easy to forgive and forget them.

Definitely put this album in your ears if you like great vocalists, and don’t mind occasional wafts of Bee Gees.

Rated 4 stars - You're missing a treat!
  • POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 4 / 5
  • 1982 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #3, certified Platinum by the BPI.
  • POP RESCUE COST: Inherited.

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