Dee Dee Warwick - “You’re No Good”
Single Release from 1963, Available Here
All due respect to Linda Ronstadt, who had the bigger hit (and the most well-known version) with this song, but for me, Dee Dee Warwick sang it first, sang it grittier, sang it better. The “it” in question is “You’re No Good,” a fuck-you song of the highest calliber. Warwick, sister of the better-known (and sweeter-sounding) Dionne, may not have written this song, but she totally owned it, spitting out the spiteful, angry lyrics of a woman scorned, keeping it mean and gritty while a smoking R&B band pumped out a jagged, angular rhythm behind her. Interesting tidbit that I didn’t know until recently? This track was produced by none other than Leiber & Stoller (one half of whom passed away not long ago).
Linda Ronstadt’s version a decade later had a glossy, FM-Radio sheen to it, but Warwick presented the song tight and raw, perfect for hitting the dance floor with a snarl and a chip on one’s shoulder - mirroring the feelings immediately after an unpleasant breakup. I’ve always loved the way this song just takes those bitter, angry feelings of the situation and feeds it right back into the music, giving it an edge. Nearly 50 years on, this track definitely holds up.