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Archive for the ‘Carole Bayer Sager’ Category

Don’t Make Him Over: New Box Set Chronicles Burt Bacharach’s “Art of the Songwriter” On Six CDs

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Burt - Anyone Who Had a HeartBurt Bacharach has been speaking through his music for the past 60+ years, since his very first recorded composition,“Once in a Blue Moon,“ appeared on Nat “King“ Cole’s Penthouse Serenade in 1952.  But today, Bacharach is speaking in his own voice with the publication of his first-ever memoir, Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music.  Co-written by Robert Greenfield (Ahmet Ertegun biography The Last Sultan), the book has been described by Kirkus Reviews as “illuminating and gritty“ while Mitchell Cohen in Rock’s Back Pages praised its “tales of multiple takes, artists bravely attempting to navigate those whiplash changes and hat-size tempos.“  (The latter refers to Frank Sinatra’s quip of Bacharach, “He writes in hat sizes – seven and three-fourths!“)

With the book’s release today, it might come as a surprise that no new anthology of Bacharach’s music has been released as a tie-in.  Yet.  Universal U.K. has planned such a title, but it’s not scheduled to be released until June 10, to coincide with the British publication of the autobiography.  Anyone Who Had a Heart: The Best of Burt Bacharach – The Art of the Songwriter is a 6-CD box set (twice the number of discs as Rhino’s definitive The Look of Love – The Burt Bacharach Collection from 1998).  The first four CDs trace Bacharach’s career in a roughly chronological fashion, from 1955’s “These Desperate Hours,“ performed by Mel Torme, to 2010’s  “Some Lovers,“ sung by Rumer from the 2011 musical of the same name.  The fifth CD compiles highlights from Bacharach’s solo recording career (already addressed in full on Hip-o Select’s Something Big box set) and the sixth offers an eclectic array of Bacharach songs as performed mainly by jazz artists.

Here’s where the plot thickens: the set will also be offered as a standard 2-CD edition, but the U.S. and U.K. versions appear to differ significantly, with both 2-CD versions including unique tracks not on the box set (and not on each other).  The U.S. release arrives a bit earlier, on May 28.

After the jump: we take a closer look, plus you’ll find track listings for all three versions, plus pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 7, 2013 at 10:04

It’s The Falling In Love: Raven Reissues The Complete Carole Bayer Sager Albums; Bacharach, Jackson, Diamond, Midler Guest

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Carole Bayer Sager knew “that’s what friends are for” long before she wrote the song of the same name. The former Carole Bayer was already a hitmaking lyricist before graduating high school, thanks to the Mindbenders’ No. 2 hit “A Groovy Kind of Love.” The song was written by Bayer and Toni Wine before both women hit the ripe old age of 18. Following more hit tunes with the likes of the Monkees and Neil Sedaka, and even a Broadway musical (1970’s Georgy, with music by George Fischoff), she eventually turned to a recording career. Her complete, three-album solo discography has just been collected on two CDs by Australian label Raven Records, and the set makes for a “Who’s Who” of popular music. Sager’s team of songwriters, producers and background vocalists were all-stars, to wit: Bette Midler, Peter Allen, Melissa Manchester, Neil Diamond, Tony Orlando, David Foster, Nino Tempo, Nicky Hopkins, Luther Vandross, Alice Cooper, Michael McDonald, and not one, but two romantic partners who both just happened to be Academy Award-winning songwriters: Marvin Hamlisch and Burt Bacharach. Oh, yeah. The future King of Pop showed up for a duet, too. Carole Bayer Sager/…Too/Sometimes Late at Night (Raven RVCD-356, 2012) brims with an abundance of orchestral pop-rock riches, showcasing some of the lyricist’s finest and most enduring compositions.

Sager’s self-titled Elektra debut (1977) and its follow-up …Too (1978) are both impeccably arranged collections that have been criminally underrated over the years, but 1981’s Boardwalk LP Sometimes Late at Night is the crown jewel here. Though Sager is known for her unabashedly commercial lyrics that have struck a chord with so many, her more idiosyncratic side comes into full blossom, too.

Carole Bayer Sager featured songs co-written with Manchester, Midler, Hamlisch, Allen, Bruce Roberts and Johnny Vastano, but all shared a similar sonic signature thanks to the low-key, lean production of Brooks Arthur and the subtly evocative arrangements of Paul Buckmaster, the architect of the string charts for most of Elton John’s early hits. Sager’s voice was a small, wispy instrument, yet she knew, and was in full control of, its strengths. An aching vulnerability permeates much of the album, most vividly on the Allen co-write “I’d Rather Leave While I’m in Love.” Later recorded in a hit version by Rita Coolidge and also by Allen, Dusty Springfield and Carmen McRae (not to mention Hugh Jackman in the Allen bio-musical The Boy from Oz), the song’s direct sentiment cuts to the bone thanks to Sager’s poignant vocal and the sympathetic arrangement: “Too many times I’ve seen the rose die on the vine/And somebody’s heart gets broken/Usually it’s mine…” She also brings a touching dimension to “Come In from the Rain,” which was introduced by Manchester and also recorded in 1977 by Captain and Tennille. Sager is no match for Manchester, Coolidge or Toni Tennille in terms of vocal power, and her voice occasionally cracks or gets particularly throaty. But these surprisingly soulful performances are appealing due to the emotion on display.

Carole Bayer Sager isn’t all melancholy, though. Peter Allen supplies a sleek piano part on his feisty “Don’t Wish Too Hard” (“Or then you might get it…and then when you get it, you might find you didn’t want it at all!”) on which Sager is joined by Tony Orlando as her protesting lover. Gene Page provided the upbeat arrangement. Even saucier, though, is the offbeat “You’re Moving Out Today,” a major hit for Sager virtually everywhere but America! The kooky single hit No. 6 in the U.K. and No. 1 in Australia, where the album hit No. 2 itself. Bette Midler (who also wrote the song with Sager and Bruce Roberts) joins Carole as she deliciously kisses off a live-in lover with, um, some interesting proclivities: “Your nasty habits ain’t confined to bed/The grocer told me what you do with bread/Why don’t you take up with the baker’s wife instead of me?,” she coquettishly implores before demanding he pack up his rubber duck, his funny cigarettes, his 61 cassettes, his rubber hose, and various other objects. Seems he’s a composer, too (Carole’s type), for she asks him to pack up his “songs that have no hooks,” as well! It all makes for a gleefully wicked three minutes of song. (Midler’s studio version appears on her Live at Last album.) A gentler end to a relationship is presented in the wistful “Sweet Alibis,” written with Marvin Hamlisch, who supplies typically sensitive work on piano, celeste and Fender Rhodes. Lee Ritenour brings a unique color to this track with a strong electric guitar solo. In a different vein, Midler lends her pipes to the sweetly affecting Allen/Sager tune “Shy as a Violet,” fleshing out Sager’s lead vocal with a close harmony.

We check out the next two Carole Bayer Sager albums after the jump! Plus: the full track listing and an order link!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 2, 2012 at 14:25