Everybody knows “The Way We Were.” But how about “The Way We Might-Have-Been?”
The what-ifs are many in Barbra Streisand’s career. The legendary vocalist, about to celebrate her fiftieth year with Columbia Records in 2013, has amassed a vault filled with unreleased outtakes from her decades of recording. These date as far back as 1962 when the young singer recorded an as-yet-unissued rendition of Harold Arlen and “Yip” Harburg’s “Right as the Rain” for possible release on 45. (In fact, you can date unissued Streisand recordings even further back, if you count non-commercial private recordings, demos for RCA Victor and the demo tape that landed her a contract at Columbia!) Streisand has even recorded unreleased albums, let alone songs. Fans and collectors have patiently waited for some of these lost treasures to escape from the archives. Some emerged on 1991’s multi-disc box set Just for the Record, but the Streisand vault has largely remained under lock and key. That all changes on September 25 when the vinyl LP of Release Me arrives in stores from Columbia Records (who else?), with a CD following two weeks later on October 9. Finally, the open secret of this album is out!
Release Me premieres eleven tracks recorded between 1967 and, possibly, 2011. These encompass the various sides of Streisand’s diverse career, from Broadway (including a medley from the abandoned, Rupert Holmes-produced original iteration of Back to Broadway) to pop (Jimmy Webb’s “Didn’t We” from the incomplete album project The Singer, Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” with the composer on piano, cut from Stoney End) to Hollywood (Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher’s “With One More Look at You” from A Star is Born, arranged by Nick DeCaro for another aborted single). Along the way, there’s a bossa nova excursion (“Lost in Wonderland,” a 1968 English-language version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Antigua,” with lyrics by Marshall Barer of Once Upon a Mattress fame) and one song from the Streisand “holy grail” concept album Life Cycle of a Woman: “Mother and Child” (1973), penned by Alan and Marilyn Bergman with composer Michel Legrand.
The earliest track on Release Me is the standard “Willow Weep for Me,” intended for 1967’s Simply Streisand, arranged by Ray Ellis and conducted by film and theatre composer David Shire (Closer Than Ever, Norma Rae). The most recent appears to be “If It’s Meant to Be,” with music by Brian Byrne and lyrics by the Bergmans. In liner notes to her 2011 tribute album What Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman , Streisand mentions recording more songs than were ultimately included; Byrne himself confirmed that one of his songs was being recorded by Streisand. Five songs plus an extended King and I medley reportedly hit the cutting room floor from the chart-topping, quadruple-platinum The Broadway Album (1985), and two have been resuscitated for Release Me: Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s “Being Good (Isn’t Good Enough)” from the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Hallejulah, Baby! (1967) and “Home” from Charlie Smalls’ score to 1975’s The Wiz. Another of the rarities is Larry Gatlin’s “Try to Win a Friend,” cut from 1977’s Superman album.
After the jump: more details, pre-order links and a track listing with source information for each song!
In the press release, Streisand noted, “The thing I’m happiest about is that I still have great affection for all these songs. They appealed to me at the time…and still do. Listening now, I actually think to myself, ‘The girl wasn’t half bad.'” Streisand’s co-producer on Release Me, Jay Landers, muses stream-of-consciousness-style in his liner notes, “All of Barbra’s glorious music…her ideas…the collaborative efforts of the fortunate songwriters, arrangers, mixers and producers who have come into her orbit…the experiments…the occasional missteps and the many triumphs – all driven by the unstoppable force of one woman’s vision.”
With the exception of two songs where the original masters couldn’t be located, all the tracks on Release Me were transferred from original, first-generation master tapes. Make no mistake, these eleven songs add up to a veritable Streisand bonanza, even if they’re just the tip of the iceberg where additional unreleased material is concerned. The album is packaged with a dramatic cover that should be even more striking at full LP size. Streisand has recently mentioned that the album will be dedicated to her beloved friend and longtime associate Marvin Hamlisch, who died earlier this month. None of Hamlisch’s songs are on the new collection, although his composition “It Doesn’t Get Better Than This” (cut from 1996’s film and soundtrack The Mirror Has Two Faces) could have been a contender and remains unreleased.
Release Me arrives from Columbia Records on September 25 on vinyl (as almost all of these songs were originally intended to be heard, after all) and a CD follows on October 9. You can pre-order both versions below!
- Being Good Isn’t Good Enough (from Hallelujah, Baby!) (Styne/Comden/Green)
- Didn’t We (Jimmy Webb)
- Willow Weep For Me (Ann Ronell)
- Try To Win A Friend (Larry Gatlin)
- I Think It’s Going To Rain Today (Randy Newman) (with Randy Newman, piano)
- With One More Look At You (from A Star Is Born) (Williams/Ascher)
- Lost In Wonderland (Jobim/Barer)
- How Are Things In Glocca Morra? / The Heather On The Hill (from Finian’s Rainbow / Brigadoon) (Lane/Harburg/Lerner/Loewe)
- Mother And Child (Legrand/Bergman/Bergman)
- If It’s Meant To Be (Byrne/Bergman/Bergman)
- Home (from The Wiz) (Charlie Smalls)
All tracks previously unreleased.
Tracks 1 & 11 cut from The Broadway Album (1985)
Track 2 from The Singer (unreleased, 1970)
Track 3 cut from Simply Streisand (1967)
Track 4 cut from Superman (1977)
Track 5 cut from Stoney End (1970)
Track 6 intended for single release, 1977
Track 7 intended for single release, 1968
Track 8 from Back to Broadway sessions, 1988
Track 9 from Life Cycle of a Woman (unreleased, 1973)
Track 10 likely cut from What Matters Most (2011)