Released today in 1987: Strong As Steel

Tent PB41565

Tent PB41565

Now recognized as one of the most successful songwriters of her generation (she was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2001), Diane Warren’s long list of hits began in the 1980s with songs such as this one by Five Star, which appeared on their third album in 1987. Her early credits were mostly associated with American singer Laura Branigan, for whom she contributed English lyrics for covers of songs originally composed in other languages. One of these, an English-language version of the song Solitaire (first written and performed by French chanteuse Martine Clemenceau in 1981) would be the lead single from the album Branigan 2 in 1983. Branigan had better luck with it in America than she did in the UK, as she would do with her 1984 follow-up album Self Control, which also included a couple of Warren originals and more covers she had penned new words to. However, Warren’s breakthrough in the UK came in the following year via another act, when her song Rhythm Of The Night was a Top 10 here (as it was in the States) for DeBarge.

Her first truly international success came in 1987, when the rock anthem she wrote for Starship, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now, from the soundtrack of the film ‘Mannequin’, went to #1 both in the UK and the US and was a hit in a number of other countries. The song won her the first of her (to date) seven Academy Award nominations, and is one of over five dozen of her songs to be featured on movie soundtracks. (Strong As Steel itself would appear on the soundtrack for the ‘Ghost Dad’ movie in 1990, when it was covered by Gladys Knight.) Her biggest successes at that time were for similar acts: her Who Will You Run To was a Top 10 hit for Heart in America (it made #30 here), and ex Go-Gos singer Belinda Carlisle recorded I Get Weak and World Without You for her Heaven On Earth album. But British pop stars such as Five Star recording Warren songs was to give an indication of the versatility of her writing: it wasn’t just American rock stars she could pen a tune for.

The diversity of artists she could cater for was highlighted in 1988. Carlisle would issue both the previously mentioned songs as singles during the year, I Get Weak adding another Top 10 hit to Warren’s tally. Seventies rockers Chicago’s album Chicago 19 would also yield two major American hit singles composed by her, I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love and the chart-topper Look Away, but neither was a hit here. Surprisingly, in the UK, it was a reggae group who would provide her with her next #1, when Aswad covered Don’t Turn Away. Soul legend Aretha Franklin was the next to take one of her songs into the British charts, when she teamed up with Whitney Houston to record It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be. The following year, Aretha recorded Warren’s Through The Storm (co-written with British singer-songwriter Albert Hammond, with whom she had collaborated on some of the other titles in this article) as a duet with Elton John. Aretha and Elton weren’t the only veteran stars to have hits courtesy of her in 1989: Cher’s “comeback” was confirmed with Warren’s If I Could Turn Back Time, and Warren teamed up with Michael Bolton to write the Barbra Streisand single We’re Not Making Love Anymore. Bolton himself had also started his solo recording career, and would team up with Warren several more times on his own records, although his greatest successes would come in the following decade. There were also hits with other new faces, such as Milli Vanilli – Blame It On The Rain was also one of hers. Her work has now provided dozens of artists with hits over the past 25 years.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Sep. 28
1984
Mari WILSON Let’s Make This Last (The Compact Organization PINK9)
1987
The ALARM Rain In The Summertime (IRS IRM144)
BANANARAMA Love In The First Degree (London NANA14)
DEAD OR ALIVE (Pete Burns) I’ll Save You All My Kisses (Epic BURNS3)
Bryan FERRY The Right Stuff (Virgin VS940)
FIVE STAR Strong As Steel (Tent PB41565)
IMAGINATION (Leee John) I Know What Love Is (RCA PB41563)
Owen PAUL Mad About The Girl (NBR OWP1)
David SYLVIAN Let The Happiness In (Virgin VS1001)
UB40 Maybe Tomorrow (DEP International DEP27)

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