Somewhere in the world, someone is cold/Be aware/And while you’re feeling young, someone is old/Be aware/And while your stomach’s full, somewhere in this world, someone is hungry/When there is so much, should anyone be hungry?
On Sunday, March 14, 1971, CBS-TV aired Singer Presents Burt Bacharach. The composer’s variety special welcomed Tom Jones, Rudolf Nureyev, and Barbra Streisand. After Bacharach and Streisand performed an intimate, close-up rendition of “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” the duo engaged in a bit of patter. “I’m just nervous about what I have to do,” she revealed of the next song she would be performing. By way of reassurance, Bacharach offered, “Hal and I wrote that new song especially for you.” Streisand then introduced “Be Aware.” She brought passion to his haunting melody and Hal David’s poignant, socially-conscious lyric – an auspicious debut for a remarkable composition. But a Streisand release of “Be Aware” never materialized. Dionne Warwick brought it to records in 1972 and it was subsequently recorded by artists from Laura Nyro to Lea Salonga. Now, 50 years after Streisand introduced the song, that 1971 recording (with additional 2020 production) is opening her latest release: Release Me 2.
Due from Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings on August 6, Release Me 2 is the long-awaited second volume of Streisand’s rarities series launched in 2012. (Read our review of Volume 1 here!) The set features ten previously unreleased songs spanning nearly the whole of the artist’s career, from 1962-2014, with an eleventh track circa 1984 arriving as a Target exclusive on both CD and LP. All physical editions are as follows:
- Target-exclusive CD with bonus track;
- Standard black vinyl;
- Target-exclusive gray vinyl with bonus track;
- Barnes and Noble-exclusive clear vinyl;
- Barbra Official Store-exclusive white vinyl (and various packages);
- Barbra Official Store-exclusive cassette; and
- Independent record stores picture disc vinyl.
The earliest recording on Release Me 2 is “Right as the Rain” which Streisand included on The Second Barbra Streisand Album in 1963. This take of the Harold Arlen/E.Y. “Yip” Harburg standard from their 1944 musical Bloomer Girl was recorded in 1962 with producer Mike Berniker. One other ’60s-vintage recording has been included: Michel Legrand and Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s “One Day (A Prayer).” The haunting plea was first heard on ABC-TV’s 1990 The Earth Day Special; a version of the track was subsequently released on a publishing promo for the Bergmans. The 2020 mix is based on the original, unreleased 1968 production by Streisand and Wally Gold as arranged by Don Costa.
While those are the only two 1960s recordings included here, nearly half of the set’s selections originated in the 1970s. Randy Newman’s achingly beautiful “Living Without You” was recorded with producer Richard Perry for 1971’s Stoney End LP. The original vocal has been utilized for this 2020 production and arrangement by Streisand and Walter Afanasieff. (Newman’s “I’ll Be Home” and “Let Me Go” made the cut for Stoney End while his “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” was featured on the first Release Me.) Carole King’s “You Light Up My Life” was introduced on 1973’s Fantasy. (The same album yielded “Being at War with Each Other,” memorably sung by Streisand on her 1974 LP The Way We Were and reprised in her recent concerts.) Barbra’s recording was intended for Butterfly – also from 1974 – but this version has additional production and mixing by Jochem van der Saag. One of the most surprising cuts here may be Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher’s Academy Award-nominated Muppet Movie classic “The Rainbow Connection” as recorded for 1979’s Wet and performed as a duet with the one and only Kermit the Frog (who else?). As on the 2012 Release Me, one track has been included from the unreleased 1973 Bergman/Bergman/Legrand concept album The Life Cycle of a Woman, “Once You’ve Been in Love.”
The sole song from the 1980s is the Target bonus track. Richard Parker and Bobby Whiteside’s “When the Lovin’ Goes Out of the Lovin'” was recorded by Johnny Mathis for his 1982 Friends in Love album and was mooted by Barbra for inclusion on 1984’s Emotion. Release Me 2 then jumps ahead to 1994 for the ballad “Sweet Forgiveness,” penned by Walter Afanasieff and John Bettis. Of more recent vintage is an outtake from the 2005 Barry Gibb collaboration Guilty Pleasures (“If Only You Were Mine”) and the Willie Nelson duet “I’d Want It to Be You.” The latter was included on 2014’s Partners as a duet with Blake Shelton; Willie had advocated for the release of his original version when speaking to Larry King. In that interview, he referred to Streisand only having finished a scratch vocal; at last, a final vocal has been recorded. “I’d Want It to Be You” is streaming and available for download now. Watch the video on YouTube here.
As longtime fans know, this release still represents the tip of the iceberg of the Streisand vaults. It appears that we’ll have to wait a bit longer for official Streisand renditions of Leonard Bernstein and Richard Wilbur’s “Make Our Garden Grow,” Ed Kleban’s “Better,” Laura Nyro’s “He’s a Runner,” Legrand and the Bergmans’ “The Smile I Never Smiled,” and the Leon Russell gospel sessions (just to name a few). But however belated, this sequel to Release Me is mightily welcome.
Barbra has shared her thoughts on the album on her website. She writes, in part: “My brilliant friend, Leonard Bernstein, once said, ‘Music can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable.’ I think that’s true, because the songs I’ve recorded have provided me ways of expressing thoughts and feelings that would otherwise be difficult to convey. With that in mind, I hope this collection of tracks that have been quietly resting in their tape boxes, waiting to be released, will stir your emotions or simply make you smile.” We hope so, too.
You’ll find pre-order links and the full track listing below.
Barbra Streisand, Release Me 2 (Columbia/Legacy, 2021)
CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
Vinyl: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada
Target Exclusive CD with bonus track: Target.com
Target Exclusive Gray Vinyl with bonus track: Target.com
B&N Exclusive Clear Vinyl: BarnesandNoble.com
Barbra Official Store Exclusive White Vinyl and Cassette: Barbra Shop
Picture Disc Vinyl: Your Local Record Store
- Be Aware (Bacharach/David)
- You Light Up My Life (Carole King)
- I’d Want It to Be You (Tomberlin/Landers/Dorff) – with Willie Nelson
- Sweet Forgiveness (Afanasieff/Bettis)
- Living Without You (Randy Newman)
- One Day (A Prayer) (Bergman/Bergman/Legrand)
- Rainbow Connection (Williams/Ascher) – with Kermit the Frog
- Right as the Rain (Arlen/Harburg)
- If Only You Were Mine (B. Gibb/A. Gibb/S. Gibb) – with Barry Gibb
- Once You’ve Been in Love (Bergman/Bergman/Legrand)
- When the Lovin’ Goes Out of the Lovin’ (Parker/Whiteside) (Target-exclusive bonus track)
Track 1 originally recorded on Singer Presents Burt Bacharach, 1971/additional production 2020
Track 2 cut from Butterfly, 1974/additional production 2020
Track 3 intended for Partners, 2014/additional production 2020
Track 4 rec. 1994
Track 5 cut from Stoney End, 1971/additional production 2020
Track 6 rec. 1968, first aired on Earth Day Special, 1990 and earlier mix released on The Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Threesome Music, 1996
Track 7 cut from Wet, 1979/additional production 2020
Track 8 rec. 1962
Track 9 cut from Guilty Pleasures, 2005
Track 10 from Life Cycle of a Woman, unreleased, 1973
Track 11 cut from Emotion, 1984