Six-time Grammy Award winner and three-time Academy Award winner Burt Bacharach is, without a doubt, one of the most-notable songwriters and composers in the history of American popular music.
His numerous hit songs and compositions — many with lyrics provided by the late Hal David — have spanned many decades, beginning in the late 1950s, and he has written 66 songs that reached the Top 40 of the Billboard Magazine’s popular music charts, with six of them reaching the No. 1 position.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous atombash.com article provides additional background info on Bacharach, and it lists the 10 best-selling singles composed by Bacharach, and to read that column, click here.]
This article takes a look at 10 of the numerous Bacharach compositions that became Billboard pop hits for multiple recording artists, many of which were written for Dionne Warwick, and to hear any of the songs (and the various hit-record renditions), click on the artists’ name. Each capsule summary lists the highest Billboard pop chart position, along with the year of issue.
- 1. “THIS GUY’S IN LOVE WITH YOU” (Herb Alpert, No. 1, 1968) and (Dionne Warwick, No. 7, 1969) became the first chart-topping single for Alpert, as well as the first No. 1 hit on his A&M label. More famous for his trumpet playing with Tijuana Brass, this was his only Top 40 hit, and the recording was arranged by Bacharach. The song also spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. Several female vocalists, including Warwick, recorded the song as “This Girl’s in Love with You”, but hers was the only significant charter.
- 2. “BABY IT’S YOU” (Smith, No. 5, 1969) and (The Shirelles, No. 8, 1961) and (The Beatles, No. 67, 1995) was written by Bacharach, Luther Dixon and Mack David. The highest-charting rendition was by the Los Angeles rock quintet Smith fronted by Gayle McCormick. The Shirelles — a Passaic, N.J., group headed by Shirley Owens Alston — also had major success with the song on both the pop (No. 8) and R&B (No. 3) charts. The Beatles first recorded the song on their Please, Please Me album in 1963, but it wasn’t a Billboard chart item until 1995.
- 3. “I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER” (Dionne Warwick, No. 4, 1967) and (Aretha Franklin, No. 10, 1968) and (Sergio Mendes, No. 106, 1968) was written by Bacharach and David for Warwick, who had a huge two-sided hit, with the flip side (“Valley of the Dolls”) charting at No. 2. Franklin’s version was a Top 10 single on both the pop and R&B listings, with backup vocals by The Sweet Inspirations and Clayton Ivey’s piano work. Brazilian pianist Sergio Mendes, who organized the band Brasil 66, reached No. 106 on Billboard with an instrumental rendition.
- 4. “WALK ON BY” (Dionne Warwick, No. 6, 1964) and (Isaac Hayes, No. 30, 1969) and (Sybil, No. 74, 1990) and (Average White Band, No. 92, 1979) and (Gloria Gaynor, No. 98, 1975) was one of many Bacharach-David songs originally recorded by Warwick. Hayes’ cover version was released on his Hot Buttered Soul album with a 12 1/2-minute length, but edited to less then 5 minutes, the single reached No. 30 on Billboard. In 1990, Paterson, N.J., songstress Sybil charted this song on both sides of the Atlantic, and The Average White Band released a disco-tinged rendition. Newark, N.J., disco singer Gaynor also edged into the Billboard Hot 100.
- 5. “CLOSE TO YOU” (The Carpenters, No. 1, 1970) and (B.T. Express, No. 82, 1976) and (Jerry Butler & Brenda Lee Eager, No. 91, 1972) was first recorded by Richard Chamberlain in 1963, but it flopped, although the B-side (“Blue Guitar”) charted at No. 42. The Carpenters — a brother-sister duo, Richard and Karen from Downey, Calif., originally from New Haven, Conn. — easily had the best-known version. Later in the ’70s, renditions by Butler-Eager and B.T. Express reached the Billboard Hot 100, and those songs reached No. 6 and No. 31, respectively, on the R&B charts.
- 6. “THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING THERE TO REMIND ME” (Naked Eyes, No. 8, 1983) and (R.B. Greaves, No. 27, 1970) and (Lou Johnson, No. 49, 1964) and (Sandie Shaw, No. 52, 1964) and (Dionne Warwick, No. 65, 1968) was originally recorded as a demo by Dionne Warwick in 1963, but it first charted for Johnson in the summer of 1964. Liverpool’s Sandie Shaw covered the song for the UK market, and it went to No. 1 for three weeks in her homeland, although it had only modest U.S. success. Greaves, a half-Indian raised on a reservation in California and a nephew of Sam Cooke, had the first U.S. Top 40 hit with the song, Naked Eyes — the British duo of Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher — later emerged with the top-selling version.
- 7. “THE LOOK OF LOVE” (Sergio Mendes, No. 4, 1968) and (Dusty Springfield, No. 22, 1967) and (Isaac Hayes, No. 79, 1971) is a Bacharach-David song, written for the 1967 James Bond film Casino Royale and sung by Dusty Springfield, It received a Best Song nomination in the 1968 Academy Awards, and in 2008, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. After their performance in the 1968 Academy Awards telecast, the Mendes rendition became a major charter, with lead vocals provided by Janis Hansen. Hayes covered the song for his 1970 album To Be Continued.
- 8. “MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF” (Walker Brothers, No. 16, 1965) and (Jerry Butler, No. 20, 1962) and (Dionne Warwick, No. 37, 1970) and (Johnny Mathis, No. 103, 1972) was first a hit for Jerry Butler, and the top charter was by The Walker Brothers — a Los Angeles trio consisting of Scott Engel, Gary Leeds and John Maus — who took the song to No. 1 in England, where they had much better success than they did in the U.S. The Mathis single just missed the Billboard Hot 100, but it did reach No. 16 on the Easy Listening chart, and Warwick came up with a third Top 40 hit of the song.
- 9. “ALFIE” (Dionne Warwick, No. 15, 1967) and (Cher, No. 32, 1966) and (Cilla Black, No. 95, 1966) was written for the 1966 film Alfie, and although Bacharach and David recommended that it be recorded by Warwick, Paramount officials thought that the film’s setting called for vocals by a UK singer. Although the song was sung by Cher over the movie’s closing credits, British singer Cilla Black was utilized for the original UK soundtrack. Black had a major hit with the song in England, and although it didn’t chart in America, Sandie Shaw had a UK chart-topper with it.
- 10. “DON’T MAKE ME OVER” (Sybil, No. 20, 1989) and (Dionne Warwick, No. 21, 1962) and (Jennifer Warnes, No. 67, 1979) and (Brenda & The Tabulations, No. 77, 1970) was the song that marked the recording debut of Warwick, and it became the first of her 56 Billboard Hot 100 singles. The Brenda & The Tabulations rendition, produced by Van McCoy, also reached No. 15 on the Billboard R&B charts. Sybil’s “swingbeat” remake actually outcharted the Warwick original, in addition to reaching No. 2 R&B. And Seattle-born Jennifer Warnes also had modest success with the song.
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