Celine Dion – “All The Way: A Decade Of Song”
By 1999, Celine Dion had amassed an unparalleled discography from any other artist of the decade. From the limited success of “Unison” at the very beginning of the 1990’s to three consecutive multi-Diamond and Platinum long players that rank among the biggest selling albums of all time, Celine had taken her voice to every possible corner of the globe and back again. So it seemed fitting in 1999 to take stock of all those mega hits with a best of collection.
But this new album would only list nine of the mightiest and most recognisable. The remainder of the album would consist of six new recordings. Some of them covers, some of them original new compositions, but each of them adding to the majesty of an anthology that covers five English language studio albums, 32 single releases and record sales for the decade of more than 150 million units. So let’s go ‘all the way’ back twenty years to remember Celine’s decade of song.
The nine hits that make up the first half of this album differ depending on whether you lived in North America or internationally. The changes coming with “If You Ask Me To”, a US No.4 from 1992, being substituted for “Immortality” from 1998, and “Love Can Move Mountains” (US No.36 from 1992) being replaced by her 1994/95 chart topper “Think Twice” on the international release. Otherwise, the remaining seven tracks stay the same: “The Power Of Love”, “Beauty And The Beast”, “Because You Loved Me”, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”, “To Love You More”, “My Heart Will Go On” and “I’m Your Angel”. All of these songs have been covered in previous reviews, so let’s focus on the new tracks and see how they look:
1. That’s The Way it Is
Kristian Lundin, Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson, the team behind Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys, provide the first new song, a lively, uptempo number, that was released as the first single that preceded the album. After so many ballads, “That’s The Way it Is” is a breath of fresh air and although it was released in the run up to Christmas, it was some badly needed ‘juice’ for the dark days and nights ahead. It came with some superb mixes, most notably the Metro Club mix and this ensured its success in clubland. “That’s The Way It Is” was an immediate hit reaching No.6 in the US and No.7 on the dance chart, as well topping the Canadian singles chart and reaching the top ten in more than twenty other countries worldwide.
2. If Walls Could Talk
Shania Twain’s regular producer Robert “Mutt” Lange is responsible for the five minute plus moody “If Walls Could Talk”, and Shania even does backing vocals on this atmospheric epic that has plenty of Country vibes and twangs to it, following on neatly from “Be The Man” and “Where Is The Love?” from the “Let’s Talk About Love” album. “Can you keep as secret?” asks Celine with passion and sexiness. The whole song is performed in almost whispers from her and with the utmost of intrigue and mystery that makes this a compelling number and a worthy inclusion here.
3. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Celine’s next ‘new’ recording is a cover version of Ewan MacColl/Roberta Flack’s classic “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, which has been performed by over fifty other artists and groups since Flack took her version to the top of the US singles chart in 1972. The song was actually first recorded by Peggy Seeger in 1957 who was MacColl’s lover. The pair married in 1959 and Seeger (now 84 years of age) would witness the procession of different interpretations of ‘her’ song over the next six decades since her first recording of it. Celine’s version was produced by her good friend David Foster, who had been present on all of her albums throughout the decade, and in stripped back format, allows Celine to vocalise every aspect of the song and remain faithful to the original recordings. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was commercially restricted to a UK only release in February 2000, where it peaked at No.19.
4. All The Way
Celine is used to trying her hand at new ventures, but when she recorded her version of Frank Sinatra’s 1957 hit “All The Way”, it looked at face value like it was going to be another classic added to her collection. What is more challenging is that her new recording is also takes the form of a duet, not easy when your ‘partner’ has been dead for fifteen months! Celine recorded her ‘part’ using Sinatra’s 1963 Reprise recording of the song and even more astonishing, she later performed it as a virtual duet in her Las Vegas shows during the 2010’s! I’m sure ‘Ol Blue Eyes’ would of been touched and perhaps aching to take to the stage himself to perform it with her!
5. Then You Look At Me
“Then You Look At Me” is a dramatic new song from the pen of Will Jennings, who of course provided that monstrous sea-faring song “My Heart Will Go On“. With ‘Titanic’ composer James Horner and David Foster on the team, this is more than a worthy successor to her Oscar winning signature tune and was recorded for the film ‘The Bicentennial Man’ starring Robin Williams, although the song was not commercially released as a single, perhaps as the film performed poorly at the box office, taking less money than its $100m budget. Its presence here along with ‘the other Jennings’ number perhaps guarantees this album was not going to perform poorly…?
6. I Want You To Need Me
Another Celine regular, Diane Warren, adds her two cents to this ‘titanic’ hits package. She is already listed with “Because You Loved Me” and, of course, on the US version with “If You Ask Me To” and “Love Can Move Mountains”. This song was released ‘elsewhere’ while the UK enjoyed “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” all to itself! It’s typical Warren fare, a big, soulful ballad, blending high drama, strings and ‘that voice’ of course. The song topped the Canadian singles chart and was a mid-charting single across Europe in the Summer of 2000, also reaching No.12 on the US Adult Contemporary chart and No.62 on the sales chart. The song also reached the top ten on the dance chart, thanks to a number of remixes from Barry Harris and Chris Cox aka Thunderpuss.
7. Live For The One I Love
Celine’s last new song is taken from the song “Vivre” from the stage production of ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’. The song was written by Riccardo Cocciante and Luc Plamondon in 1998 and performed by Israeli singer Achinoam Nini, who released it as a single, taking it to No.20 in France. “Vivre” was largely rewritten by Will Jennings (“My Heart Will Go On”) for Celine and re-titled “Live For The One I Love”, although Celine looses nothing of the stage quality of the song and is a fitting end to this compilation. “Live For The One I Love” saw a limited commercial released, chiefly in Canada and France and Belgium in early 2000. Just a few weeks later, Australian singer Tina Arena released her version of the song to coincide with her appearance in the London production of ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’. The single reached No.63 on the UK singles chart.
A decade of song needed “A Decade Of Song” in the title. But with the added bonus that Celine had come a long way in ten years. “All The Way”! The album was released in late November 1999, just in time for Christmas, thus ensuring maximum holiday sales, and like all of its predecessors, “All The Way” quickly ‘bought’ its way to the top of the charts in eighteen countries worldwide, including Canada, America and the UK, by now her three most committed and devoted arenas. The album gained multiple Platinum discs in fifteen countries including a Diamond certification in Canada for sales of over a million copies, seven Platinum discs in the US (9.3 million copies sold to date) and four in the UK, where it has shifted over 1.3 million copies.
With a global sale of twenty-two million copies, it became Celine’s fourth consecutive album to go over the twenty million mark and took her global album sale way over the 100 million mark, as well as being one of the biggest selling compilations of the 1990’s. Quite a feat in less than ten years! But after a decade of never resting and climbing ever higher, Celine began the new century doing just that. It would be nearly three years before she would emerge with new material, taking time out to raise a family with her beloved Rene, and as the song goes, “That’s The Way It Is”!
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