Burt Bacharach: Dream Big – The First Decade Of Songs – Él Records

Lost in a different world. Found in this one. Burt Bacharach doesn’t deserve a description just respect and lavish praise for all he has conceived and delivered to the world of song, melody and meaning alongside his lyricist partner Hal David. In a time before the numbers counted as classic film soundtracks this exploration of early compositions starts with the elegant Once In A Blue Moon played by Nat King Cole, released in 1952. And so the story continues reaching across the decades. Not surprisingly Jazz plays a major influence on the formation and duration of his art and you could try Mel Torme’s – These Desperate Hours for a primary taste. Ballads and doo-wop harmonies are all soaked up and touched upon too but the main thing of course is the craft of writing, highlighting the consequent evolution of one corner of popular music as witnessed throughout times in what feels like an almost peculiarly American soundtrack. Household names such as Tony Bennett to Peggy Lee all appear under the artist’s wing.

This compilation is made up from three discs spanning the first decade of Burt Bacharach’s career. However I especially like the inclusion of the fourth CD compiling various ‘influences and inspirations’ which range from classical to cinematic. From Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, to Arnold Schoenberg, to the dangerous intensity of Alban Berg, surprises continue to light up this complimentary page. The sheer exhilaration of Gil Evans Orchestra’s – La Nevada is also on location.

As words trip off the tongue and musical interludes swoon and sweep into view perhaps it’s that touch of class covering the most poignant songs here that still rings true. Patti Page lights up the dusk with Another Time, Another Place. While string drenched epics from the man himself sound like Searching Wind from 1958 and I suspect that they feel much the same now as then. The Shirelles – Baby It’s You, remains tantalisingly brilliant. Jerry Butler’s version of – Make It Easy On Yourself is spellbinding. Etta James – Waiting For Charlie To Come Home, is undeniably Etta James. While for Dionne Warwick’s – Don’t Make Me Over, the song most definitely remains the same.

You can of course find any number of compilations featuring all of the hits in one place but for a peak behind the curtain, Dream Big is a fascinating reveal.

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