Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dionne Warwick - How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye, the twenty-fourth studio album from Dionne Warwick. Following on the heels of her 1982 smash Heartbreaker (click here for that review), this 1983 release went to number 60 in the UK, number 57 on the US Billboard Album chart, and number 19 on the US Billboard R&B chart. Luther Vandross was the record’s producer and writer of half of the tracks as well.

Side one opens with snappy dance jam “Got a Date”. As the second single, it only sparked on the US Billboard R&B chart (topping out at number 45). I was surprised by the very heavy guitar solo on this one.

“So Amazing”, which Vandross would later record for himself on his 1986 album Give Me the Reason, is a lighter ballad.

After that brief respite, the up-tempo rhythm returns with “I Do It Cause I Like It”.

The ballad “How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye” is a duet with Vandross. As a single, it climbed to number 99 in the UK, number 27 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 7 on the US Billboard R&B chart and number 4 on the US Adult Contemporary chart. He also took the track for his December of 1983 album Busy Body.

Side two begins with “What Can a Miracle Do”, the B-side to the first single. This mid-tempo number feels a lot more like the classic Warwick songs from the 60’s and 70’s. The cleaner piano and lighter percussion allow her voice to ring out clearly.

“Two Ships Passing in the Night”, the B-side to the second single, was the sole track on the album written by Warwick herself.

“I Can Let Go Now”, written by Michael McDonald, is another lighter ballad - this one about coming to the realization that it is time to move one.

The closing track “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” is a cover of the 1960 song written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The Shirelles, who originally recorded that hit, appear on Warwick’s version. I really like the slower, jazzy ballad delivery; it takes the song to a totally different level.

This was my first listen to the tracks on How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye. The musicians are very tight on the record, and Vandross does a good job putting it all together. The second half of the album is more in line with what I typically come to associate with Dionne Warwick, amazing ballads.

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