November 04, 2004
Hip-O Select
Pop/Rock, Baroque Pop, Brill Building Pop, Pop-Soul, Soul, Early Pop/Rock, AM Pop

Album Review

The title Something Big: The Complete A&M Years...And More (2004) pretty well sums up the embarrassment of riches contained within this compendium. Even while working -- usually with then-partner Hal David (lyrics) -- to create hits for other artists, Burt Bacharach (piano/vocals/arranger) was well on his way to becoming arguably the most gifted and successful pop music composer/arranger of the latter 20th century. Likewise -- as the 109 selections on these five discs certainly bear out -- Bacharach also invested a significant part of his profession actively recording and touring as a solo act. Although there have been a multitude of woefully incomplete anthologies issued on CD, for the first time in the digital domain, the essential Bacharach long-players: Hit Maker! (1965), Reach Out (1967), Make It Easy on Yourself (1969), Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969), the self-titled Burt Bacharach (1971), Living Together (1973), the rarely heard In Concert (1974), Futures (1977), and Woman (1979) are available. And the icing on the entire affair is the host of previously unreleased gems from deep within the A&M Records vaults, as well as from Bacharach's own archive. It is fascinating to hear the treatments given to "Are You There (With Another Girl)," "What the World Needs Now Is Love," "The Look of Love," "A House Is Not a Home," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Message to Michael," "Promises, Promises," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Make It Easy on Yourself," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "This Guy's in Love with You," "(They Long to Be) Close to You," "Wives and Lovers" and "One Less Bell to Answer" (just to name a few) as interpreted by their creator. Perhaps as a testament to the completeness of the compositions themselves, Bacharach's orchestrations are often as full of subtle textures as the more familiar hit versions. For the most compelling evidence of that phenomenon, listeners should treat themselves to the 15 tracks originally featured on the U.K. import Burt Bacharach in Concert (1974). The coupling of "Alfie," with "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," as well as the medley of "Don't Make Me Over," "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "What's New Pussycat," "Wives and Lovers, and "24 Hours from Tulsa" are, as the saying goes, worth the price of admission alone. The fifth and final disc -- subtitled "Essentials" -- is of equal significance as it contains a few one-off curios -- all of which were at the very least produced by Bacharach. Of primary interest are the never-before-issued alternate mono mix of "Saturday Sunshine" circa the aforementioned Hit Maker!: Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits (1965), a Joel Grey-sung "What's New Pussycat," "My Little Red Book (All I Do Is Talk About You)," with Tony Middleton (vocals), "After the Fox," and "The Fox Trot" both credited to Burt Bacharach & His Orchestra. Plus, "Nikki," and "Juanita's Place" by the Burt Bacharach Orchestra & Chorus. The set concludes with three soundtrack sides from the 1980s, "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," "That's What Friends Are For," -- which was in the film Night Shift (1982) before becoming an international hit for the supergroup of Elton John, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight -- and the "Love Theme from Arthur" from Arthur 2: On The Rocks (1988). The entire affair is bound in a hardbound cloth casing and inside are 42 pages of notes including tributes from Richard Carpenter and producer Phil Ramone. Collectors take note as Something Big is limited to an edition of only 5,000.
Lindsay Planer, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Reach Out For Me
  2. Alfie
  3. Bond Street
  4. Are You There (With Another Girl)
  5. What The World Needs Now Is Love
  6. The Look of Love
  7. A House Is Not A Home
  8. I Say A Little Prayer
  9. The Windows of the World
  10. Lisa
  11. Message To Michael
  12. The Bell That Wouldn't Jingle
  13. Promises, Promises
  14. I'll Never Fall In Love Again
  15. Knowing When To Leave
  16. Any Day Now
  17. Wanting Things
  18. Whoever You Are I Love You
  19. Make It Easy On Yourself
  20. Do You Know The Way To San Jose
  21. Pacific Coast Highway
  22. She's Gone Away
  23. This Guy's In Love With You
  24. Mexican Divorce
  25. (They Long To Be) Close To You
  26. Nikki
  27. Wives and Lovers
  28. All Kinds of People
  29. And The People Were With Her (Suite For Orchestra)
  30. April Fools
  31. Hasbrook Heights
  32. Freefall
  33. One Less Bell To Answer
  34. Something Big
  35. Monterey Penninsula
  36. I Come To You
  37. Walk The Way You Talk
  38. The Balance of Nature
  39. Living Together, Growing Together
  40. Reflections
  41. Lost Horizon
  42. Long Ago Tomorrow
  43. I Might Frighten Her Away
  44. I Took My Strength From You (I Had None)
  45. Features
  46. Us
  47. Where Are You?
  48. We Should Have Met Sooner
  49. No One Remembers Your Name
  50. The Young Grow Younger Every Day
  51. Another Spring Will Rise
  52. Seconds
  53. When You Bring Your Sweet Love To Me
  54. Time and Tenderness
  55. Summer of '77
  56. Woman
  57. Riverboat
  58. Magdalena
  59. New York Lady
  60. There Is Time
  61. The Dancing Fool
  62. I Live in the Woods
  63. The Sundance Kid
  64. Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head
  65. Not Goin' Home Anymore
  66. South American Getaway
  67. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
  68. On a Bicycle Built For Joy
  69. Come Touch The Sun
  70. The Old Fun City (N.Y. Sequence)
  71. Not Goin' Home Anymore (Reprise)
  72. Etta's Theme
  73. Alfie/Do You Know The Way To San Jose [Live]
  74. Walk On By [Live]
  75. Come Touch The Sun [Live]
  76. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head [Live]
  77. The Look of Love [Live]
  78. 24 Hours from Tulsa [Live]
  79. This Guy's In Love With You [Live]
  80. I'll Never Fall In Love Again [Live]
  81. (They Long To Be) Close To You [Live]
  82. Bond Street [Live]
  83. A House Is Not a Home [Live]
  84. Alfie [Live]
  85. What The World Needs Now Is Love [Live]
  86. Promises, Promises [Live]
  87. What The World Needs Now Is Love (Reprises) [Live]
  88. Saturday Sunshine
  89. And So Goodbye, My Love
  90. Don't Make Me Over
  91. Walk On By
  92. Don't Go Breaking My Heart
  93. Blue on Blue
  94. The Last One To Be Loved
  95. (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me
  96. 24 Hours From Tulsa
  97. Trainsa nd Boats and Planes
  98. Wives and Lovers
  99. Saturday Sunshine
  100. A House Is Not a Home
  101. Anyone Who Had a Heart
  102. What's New, Pussycat
  103. My Little Red Book (All I Do Is Talk About You)
  104. After the Fox
  105. The Fox Trot
  106. Nikki
  107. Juanita's Place
  108. Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)
  109. That's What Friends Are For
  110. Love Theme From Arthur