We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
From the moment a portrait of Burt Bacharach took pride of place on the cover of Oasis’ Definitely Maybe, appreciationreal or feignedof the great composer-arranger has been a must for the self-respecting pop revivalist. Which is as it should bebut while the irony quotient of this 14-track tribute album may be low, it’s hardly as effective at acknowledging fan debts as was Bacharach’s own brief, good-natured presence in Austin Powers. One immediate problem is the set’s label-based parochialism; fecklessly tune-deficient renderings of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” (by the Absolute Zeros) and “Baby It’s You” (by Michael Shelley) are hardly the proper treatment for Bacharach’s carefully crafted, often challenging melodies, especially when non-Big Dealers like Stephin Merritt are around to do them right. Even worse, though, is Shonen Knife, whose shtick was growing tired long before the group stepped down from Virgin to this smaller company; Shonen’s “charm” cancels out the appeal of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” Other renditions turn into pitched battles between song and interpreter, as on “Promise Her Anything,” a relatively obscure number originally sung by Tom Jones for a Warren Beatty vehicle of the same name; while the Gladhands hardly match Jones’ insouciance, they don’t completely pillage the number. It’s tempting to curse What the World Needs Now as another sign of the general bankruptcy of the latest wave of Poptopia! faves, but it’s not worth getting exercised about. Better to grab a copy of Rhino’s Dionne Warwick Collection, where reside definitive takes of five of these classics, while waiting for that label’s long-promised boxed compilation of Bacharach productions.