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All The Way: A Decade Of Song - Celine Dion
Member Name: plipplop
All The Way: A Decade Of Song - Celine Dion
Date: 14/07/09, updated on 14/07/09 (182 review reads)
Advantages: Some of her tried and tested favourites plus some great new material
Disadvantages: No longer 'complete' - this is ten years old - and some duff 'uns
I once worked with somebody who despised Celine Dion so very much, he once suggested that if he met her, he would probably take her out the back and shoot her in the head. It's an extreme reaction, but rather indicative of the way that many people feel about this particular French Canadian chanteuse and her particular style of singing. You may not know it, but you have the Eurovision Song Contest to thank for bringing Celine Dion to the airwaves. She won the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest and has gone on to super stardom from there.
All The Way - A Decade of Song was released way back in 1999. The good news is that means it's probably a distant memory for those who don't like her but the inevitable bad news is that 2009 almost certainly means a new collection to celebrate two decades of song. All The Way was the singer's seventh album release in the UK and her first greatest hits collection, although it cheats slightly in that the disc also features seven recordings that were new at the time. Celine Dion had reached one of the most commercially successful periods in her recording career but her desperation to have children with her (significantly older) husband meant that the album marked a two-year retirement and was therefore something of a personal milestone. It seemed to strike a chord with the record buying public. It hit the top spot in countless countries and with 22 million sales notched up, has gone on to become one of the best selling greatest hits compilations of all time.
In fairness, and in recognition of the singer's remarkable vocal talent, this is an excellent compilation. Combining the big-selling hits of the previous decade with a smattering of distinct, notable new recordings was an inspired decision and All The Way showcases Celine Dion at her very best (or worst, according to your preference). It remains the fourth most played album in my iTunes library, if for no other reason than it will always help me sleep on a train. (But I do love it, immensely, if I'm really honest.)
The 'big' numbers here are the most familiar of Dion's recording career and include the two number one singles Think Twice and My Heart Will Go On. The latter remains one of the best selling singles of all time, largely through its association with the most successful film of all time (Titanic) and sometimes it's hard to forget that it is still an extremely moving song. My Heart Will Go On, better than any Dion track, captures the sadness of a love song in a way that will either make you cry or vomit. In context of the film, however, it remains very much the former and even those who hate Dion remarked that when they watched the film, they couldn't help but be moved by the song. For me, Think Twice is the superior of the two. The song hit the number one spot on its own merits (no film association) and the slightly over-wrought desperate lyrics perhaps capture the true essence of being in love and being let down. Dion's voice resonates with more confidence here too; in My Heart Will Go On, she does rather have a tendency to warble.
The other 'greatest hits' are a slightly curious selection. 1997's studio album Let's Talk About Love spawned four singles in the UK, two of which are featured here, although disappointingly not the duet with Streisand Tell Him, however. Falling Into You resulted in five singles but again only one is featured here and for both albums some of the stronger tracks are missed out. The title track from Falling Into You, for example, is omitted here in favour of more commercial material (Because You Loved Me also came from a film) and the epic It's All Coming Back To Me is excluded too. For sure, All The Way plays things very safe and never really tries anything other than the big ballads for the greatest hits selection. Dion's cover of The Power Of Love is also featured here (I actually prefer it to the Jennifer Rush version) but the excruciating Disney song Beauty and the Beast is also featured here as though the record company simply couldn't resist stuffing in all the film affiliations.
Curiously the album (inadvertently I suspect) demonstrates Dion's capabilities to sing with others (even though the aforementioned Streisand track is missing). The haunting duet with The Bee Gees Immortality appears on the European version of the album (it was never released as a single in the USA) and the softness of the Gibb brothers' vocals seems to complement Dion's more powerful tones extremely well here. She goes a little bit R & B on us with her duet with R Kelly but a far more accomplished duet resides within the newer material where she teams up with Frank Sinatra on a remastered recording of a 1963 version of All The Way. It's one of my favourite tracks on the album, a perfect complement of Dion's rich, feminine tones with the unquestionable brilliance of old blue eyes. The song was performed live for her Vegas shows (well, only one of them was live for obvious reasons) and has become a strong favourite with fans.
The rest of the new material is good too, and although no major commercial releases resulted from this, the songs stand up in their own right. "That's The Way It Is' is the only up-tempo number on the album, written and produced by the team who worked on Britney at the time and a good demonstration that Dion can do music to move to (Misled is better but not included here, sadly.) If Walls Could Talk features Shania Twain on backing vocals, is perhaps a little shrill for some tastes but is as heartfelt as anything else. The album also includes a cover of Roberta Flack's 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face', recently taken on by Leona Lewis, but Dion's version is better; sombre, moody and powerful. 'Then You Look At Me' is another movie song that saw no commercial success in the UK and is likeable enough but Live for the One I Love is better - an English version of the song Vivre from the Notre Dame musical. Notably, there are no French recordings here, even though Pour Que Tu M'aimes Encore made the top 10 in the UK.
All The Way is an extremely safe compilation that showcases Dion's biggest commercial successes. It plays to a very certain audience but the inclusion of some of the biggest selling singles of all time almost assured this a place in history. Since Dion's mini-retirement, the singer has actually released some of her most appealing material, particularly on A New Day Has Come and of course, this is absent here. For completists, the 2008 compilation My Love would be a better choice, but then you'd miss out on some of the new material here so All The Way is still a strong recommendation for a superficial dip into Dion Chronology.
1. Power of love
2. Beauty and the beast
3. Think twice
4. Because you loved me
5. It's all coming back to me now
7. To love you more
8. My heart will go on
9. I'm your angel
10. That's the way it is
11. If walls could talk
12. The first time
13. All the way
14. Then you look at me
15. I want you to need me
Summary: A competent greatest hits/new material combo