As the 1960s became the 1970s, Dionne Warwick’s amazing streak of pop-chart success seemingly shut down out of nowhere. “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” debuted on the Billboard pop charts in the last week of 1969, and — other than a lone chart topper with the Spinners in 1974’s “Then Came You” — it would be her last Top 10 until the end of the decade and a new beginning on the Arista label.
Considering the question from several decades down the road, it’s hard to say exactly why Warwick stopped making hits. She didn’t record nearly as prolifically during the ’70s, which could be one factor. Her relationship with longtime label Scepter Records ended, and Warwick switched to what was theoretically a much stronger label, Warner Brothers, in 1972. WB didn’t seem to be able to create much chart action during her time on the label, however.
Her first album for the label, 1972’s Dionne, was with longtime collaborators Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and one track crept into the Hot 100. However, shortly afterward the duo had a falling out, which broke up the partnership and their availability to continue working with Warwick. For 1973’s Just Being Myself, Dionne decided to go full-on Detroit hit factory, via the fertile minds of ex-Motown production team Holland-Dozier-Holland. (She also added an “e” on the end of her last name, which lasted for two albums before it disappeared.)
Taking on the sound made famous by a specific musical team resulted in one of Warwick’s best ’60s albums, the Memphis experiment Soulful. Her Detroit album is an interesting take on the sort of sounds HDH was creating in the early ’70s for their own Invictus and Hot Wax labels. It’s Dionne, so there’s a lot of ballads and sweeping strings, but sometimes augmented with fuzz and wah-wah guitar (awesome) and strong backing vocal arrangements. Looking to Warwick’s past, HDH was also careful to include a strong piano presence (and sometimes even Bacharach-esque horn charts) in the arrangements, which makes for an interesting addition to their patented sound. Pointing to the attention they gave to the album, the tracks are all written by the HDH team or members of their writing/production stable.
It makes for a very solid ’70s soul/pop album, and it’s a shame the collaboration didn’t catch on at the time. It turned out to be a one-off in Warwick’s long recording career, but a very fruitful one — well worth picking up if you see a copy. (Warner Brothers BS 2658, 1973)