Cover Versions

Anyone Who Had a Heart

Anyone Who Had a Heart

Song: Anyone Who Had a Heart
Artist: Cilla Black
Original Artist: Dionne Warwick

I’m dedicating my articles this week to the great Burt Bacharach and Hal David song-
writing phenomenon.
Here, I’m going to look at the far-from-friendly rivalry that grew between Dionne Warwick
and Cilla Black which the brilliant song-writing pair played no small part in helping to
create.
Warwick enjoyed big success around the globe with Anyone Who Had a Heart. But, in
the UK, Ireland and New Zealand Liverpool lass Cilla Black stole her thunder.
Dionne released her version in January 1964. Black’s would come out a very short time
later. Warwick’s recording made it to the Top Ten in the United States, Australia,
Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, South Africa and Spain. But Black would hit No 1 in the
UK in February/March with her version. Warwick was not amused.
At one point Warwick said that Black’s version replicated her own to the point where had
she coughed while recording her vocal for the original or had that track’s organist hit a
wrong note, those features would have been present on Black’s cover.

The facts don’t totally bear out Warwick’s claim. The vocals vary slightly on Black’s
version and the instrumental solo on Black’s is on a bassoon while on Warwick’s it is
performed on the saxophone. Admittedly, these are nit-picking points. Total copy or not,
it is clear Warwick would have anticipated greater UK chart success had Cilla not been
in the way.
In an interview Black said later: “Dionne was dead choked and she’s never forgiven me
to this day.”

In May 2010, research published by BBC Radio 2 research claimed that Cilla’s Anyone
Who Had a Heart was the biggest female UK chart hit of the 1960s.
So, the rivalry between the two female singers was established. And matters would not
improve four years later in 1966 when…


Song: Alfie
Artist: Dionne Warwick
Original artist: Cilla Black

The boot was on the other foot with this song in that Black would produce her version
first even though Bacharach and David wanted Warwick to record it.
The song was, of course, produced to promote the movie of the same name. Given that
title character Alfie is a Cockney womaniser it was felt it more appropriate if the song
were recorded by a Brit. Originally, it was offered to Sandie Shaw who had had a hit with
Bachararch and David’s (Always) Something There to Remind Me. Shaw turned the
chance down, so Cilla’s name came into the frame.
Initially, Bacharach and David were none too inspired by the name “Alfie”. David said: “It
didn’t seem too exciting.” But Bacharach saw a rough cut of the film and decided that
the composition needed to be lyric-driven. So, he arranged for a copy of the script to be
delivered to David. Hal got inspiration for one of the lyrics direct from the movie script
when Alfie asks: What’s it All About?”
Indeed, in my own life a little snippet from the same piece of dialogue always resonates
with me. Alfie remarks on all the women he has known, decent clothes he has owned, a
car and many of life’s trappings. Indeed, he would be the envy of many a man.
However, he concludes: “But I ain’t got me peace of mind – and if you ain’t got that, you
ain’t got nothing. I dunno. It seems to me if they ain’t got you one way they’ve got you
another. So, what’s the answer? That’s what I keep asking myself – what’s it all about?
Know what I mean?”

Peace of mind? How elusive can that be? I was 14 when I saw the original Alfie film. I
should have been 18. Shrouded in a big jacket from my elder brother I somehow got in
accompanied by him. Have to confess that many of the film’s scenes (the abortion, for
example) whooshed straight over my head. There was obviously a reason for that 18
certification.
Another reason Alfie had a big impact on me was it was the first time I can remember
seeing a character in a film turn direct to the camera and address the viewing audience.
Not sure there were many examples of that around at the time.
Back to the music. Cilla’s version was released four months ahead of the film and would
peak in the charts at No 9. The film makers messed a little by also recording a version
by Cher to appeal to a wider world audience. This probably impacted Cilla’s version
adversely.

The song lay relatively dormant for a year before Dionne Warwick performed her take.
By that time there was already 42 cover versions recorded. The song’s rise up the

Billboard 100 was much boosted by Warwick getting to perform it at the Academy
Awards. In 2008 her version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Was there an overall “winner” in the Black/Warwick rivalry? I think the judges would be
split… perhaps based on which side of the Atlantic they hailed from!

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