When I think of the Warwick sisters, I think of unparalleled sophisticated soul, and yet only one of them managed to become a household name. Dee Dee Warwick (born on this day in 1942) never achieved the superstar status of her sister Dionne, but it wasn't for a lack of talent, magnificent material, and glorious productions.
While the Warwick sisters' voices were no doubt of similar quality, their styles were vastly different. Dionne was a master of subtlety while Dee Dee wasn't afraid to ignite the fiery inferno of flaming DRAMA. She never overdid it though. She knew how to use her instrument and applied the gentle touch when appropriate. Just check out "Yours Until Tomorrow" or her country-soul recording of "She Kept On Talking" for a fine examples of that.
Dee Dee is one of my favorite soul singers and there's no lack of recordings I could write about today, but I chose to focus on her Grammy-nominated 1968 single, "Foolish Fool" produced by the legendary Ed Townsend. The true masterpiece recordings of the 1960s didn't just happen. It took a great many elements coming together in just the right way, and I guess that's why I find them such a marvel.
I suppose you could think of a great 45 single in the same way you view a fine film. Everything has to come together perfectly for the final product to become a great work. In a film it takes script, casting, directing, photography, acting, scene decoration, music, editing, etc etc etc. A pre-1970s music production was much the same.
For "Foolish Fool" to become such a stunning recording it needed a well-crafted song (by Ed Townsend), a delicious arrangement (by Rene Hall), skilled and creative musicians, and of course a vocalist who not only could SANG but who can interpret a lyric. In this case we have an incredibly sophisticated symphonic production that still manages to have a cookin' soulful groove. The instrumentation on this record is essential in making this the case.
The guitar in the intro sets the tone, letting the listener know in no uncertain terms, it is PURE SOUL that will be the driving force on this record. Sadly the guitar intro is drastically shortened in the single version of the song (I've posted the LP version here). It's almost like the guitar is taking you by the hand saying "Hey there, let me lead you to this really cool record you're about to hear." I also need to give a nod to those drums. I am such a SUCKER for the climactic use of drums in 1960s NY productions. They makes those records seem so much larger than life.
Give this record a listen and if you like it, consider listening to Dee Dee's entire Mercury/Blue Rock sessions collection. It's one of my favorites.
DJ Action Slacks
I'm excited to highlight some of my favorite records in a variety of genres (soul, R&B, classic country, rockabilly, oldies, garage rock, etc). These won't all necessarily be "dance" records per se. They will all be records that I believe deserve a special listen. I simply love good music, rare or not. Hopefully you will spend some time here and love music right along with me! Lets give this a shot!