TAKING HER cue, or in this case miscue, from Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Barry Manilow and other singers not content with their Top 40 status, Dionne Warwick has just released an album of Cole Porter tunes. That she's better off singing Burt Bacharach is obvious from the start.
Lavishly produced by Arif Mardin, best known for his work with Aretha Franklin, "Dionne Warwick Sings Cole Porter" comes completes with "rave reviews" on the inner sleeve by Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Quincy Jones. Despite all the kind words, though, less partisan listeners are likely to find the album lacks the kind of distinction Sinatra, Horne and especially Ella Fitgerald have brought to the Porter songbook in the past. A frothy version of "You're the Top," which sounds as if it were tailored for a television special, and a trendy, drum-programmed update of "Begin the Beguine" are among the least memorable performances, followed closely by a brash and busy Broadway rendering of "Anything Goes."
Mind you, the album isn't without its merits. There are performances that capture the warmth of Warwick's alto and emphasize her subtle phrasing, none more so than a tenderly subdued version of "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To." But as entertaining as the highlights are, even they're not bright enough to keep you from recalling other, far superior tributes to Porter's genius.