All The Way... A Decade Of Song
550 Music, 1999
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/17/1999
Looking back on the last ten years, few artists have had such success as this French/Canadian diva. Let's see, perhaps Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey can compete with Celine Dion for title of "Artist of the Decade." Her presence can now be no longer denied. Of course, it couldn't be denied about two years ago when a certain song from a certain movie basically placed her center stage for almost a year.
In any case, Dion has now decided to take a long sabbatical and care for her manager/husband and attempt to come up with a kid. So, as a goodbye gift, Dion has released this album - half greatest hits and half new album. To speed up the review, I'll just give quick mention of the greatest hits half.
"The Power Of Love": her first solo hit. Still good and destined to be performed at weddings for decades to come.
"If You Asked Me To": a cover of a Patti LaBelle/James Bond song. Hmm, I prefer LaBelle's version, because it's sultrier.
"Beauty And The Beast": her first big hit. It was this song that made Disney go out and try to recapture its success with every other ballad. It's a good song and still sounds good here.
"Because You Loved Me": Diane Warren's over-the-top Oscar-nominated song. Sorry, I don't like it. It seems a shadow of other Dion songs.
"It's All Coming Back To Me Now": her collaboration with Jim ( Bat Out Of Hell) Steinmann. This does sound like it belongs to Steinmann - big, overwrought, and operatic. It works for Dion, but would have worked better for Mr. Loaf.
"Love Can Move Mountains": I still don't like this song. It tries to be uplifting gospel/pop and it doesn't work.
"My Heart Will Go On": You couldn't have a Dion greatest hits without this one, could you? The song is alright, but I still can't stomach it after being overplayed. I'll need years without it before I can go back and listen to it.
"To Love You More": is it just me or is this song a remake of "the Titanic song"? It feels and sounds very similar to the other one.
The new songs start with the currrent hit single, "That's The Way It Is." I'll admit that this pop song works and works great. In that, it is perhaps the rare creature here in that I have no reservations or problems with it. Celine, if you're looking for a direction, head in that way. Her voice even shines here!
Now, the rest of the songs are not as great. Some are good, but are missing the final step, while others, well.... Starting off with the R.Kelly duet, "I'm Your Angel" (where else does this song appear besides Kelly's album? I'd like to know). This song is one of those that aren't bad, but aren't good. They just sit there and separate the fans and those who just pass by. If you're a fan of either Dion or Kelly, you'll like it. But it's not great, so don't fret if you never listen to it.
As a matter of fact, many songs fall under this category. "Then You Look At Me" by Will Jennings and James Horner (who wrote the "Boat Song") is another one. Side bar: was this song perhaps another one written for the boat movie or was it bequeathed to Dion after their success? In any case, the song just sits there.
Another one is "If Walls Could Talk" by none other than Robert John "Mutt" Lange. (You even get backing vocals by Mr. Twain and Ms. Mutt!) I got the feeling that this song may have been a leftover from Shania Twain's Come On Over sessions. Again, not going to make you rush out and pick up this album. Finally, there's the Diane Warren-penned, "I Want You To Need Me." Here you get standard Warren material. If you liked her songs, you may like this one. But you won't get more out of me than a "it's there."
Now, does that mean every song here is bad? Well, there are two songs here that could have been way better. One is "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face." While I know what the song is trying to do, I do wonder if they had to make it THAT slow. Maybe if they had done it at a faster tempo, it would have sounded better. The other song is "Live," which works great at its speed. But it is missing something. Two good chances that may be improved when she performs them live.
Now, here comes the ultimate bomb. For some crazy reason, either Dion, her husband/manager, or her producers came up with the idea of covering Frank Sinatra's "All The Way" and retaining Frank's voice in the track. Now, let me make this clear: STOP THIS B.S. OF STICKING YOUR VOICE ON OTHER'S SONGS!!! None of us liked it when Natalie Cole rode her daddy's coattails in "Unforgettable" (remember the SNL skit?). No one bought it when Johnny Van Zant and Lynyrd Skynyrd resurrected Ronnie for "Brother's Keeper." (Heck! No one even listened to it!) What could make Dion think that we were going to like THIS?!! If it's her and husband's song, fine. Cover it completely!! As it is, "All The Way" is the ultimate ripoff and you can sense it's pretentiousness. (If you don't see it, read the liner notes.)
You see, I'm going to be one of the few who will say that a full-blown album would have been better than this. If all she wanted was a stopgap to appease her fans for the next few years, then release a full greatest hits album with "That's The Way It Is" as the extra track - maybe even "Live" tagging along. Of course, most of her fans will say, "It's fine as is!" Whatever. Take the good songs and spend more time polishing them. Then add them to a full blown album when you're ready to come back. Oh well. The greatest hits half is good, the new songs is a toss-up. But the album, overall, is rather tight.