Carole Bayer Sager was still a student at New York's High School of Music and Art when her song "A Groovy Kind of Love," co-written with Toni Wine, topped the U.S. Cash Box and Record World charts and reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966. Though some at the time thought it wouldn't last due to its prescient use of the word "groovy," Sager and Wine's youthful tune more than proved its endurance. 22 years later, Phil Collins took it to No. 1 Pop and AC in the U.S. - not to mention No. 1 in the U.K. and around the world. The song launched Sager's career into the stratosphere, and she's since received one Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and a Grammy Award as well as The Johnny Mercer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the 2022 BMI Icon Award. Her songs such as "Nobody Does It Better," "Don't Cry Out Loud," "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," "The Prayer," and "That's What Friends Are For" have become integral to American pop culture. Less well-known is that Sager recorded three solo albums including her third and final one to date, which was described by AllMusic's Joe Viglione as "the Sgt. Pepper of singer-songwriter recordings." On February 3, 2023, Iconoclassic Records reissues Carole Bayer Sager's extraordinary Sometimes Late at Night, originally released on Neil Bogart's audacious Boardwalk label in 1981, as a deluxe expanded edition. This release marks its first appearance on CD from the original master tapes.
Sometimes Late at Night marked the beginning of Carole's professional and personal relationship with legendary composer Burt Bacharach. Primarily written by the duo and produced by Bacharach and the late Brooks Arthur (Janis Ian, Van Morrison), its exquisite songs seamlessly flowed from one to another, exploring the arc of a relationship through a woman's perspective. Its conversational lyrical intimacy was rendered in Sager's achingly vulnerable voice and juxtaposed with Bacharach's soaring melodies and grand, lush orchestration. The combination made for an album truly unlike any other.
Sager, Bacharach, and Arthur assembled a "Who's Who" of the era's-or any era's-top musicians to bring their poignant new songs to life. Sager's longtime collaborators Melissa Manchester, Neil Diamond, Peter Allen, Marvin Hamlisch, David Foster, and Bruce Roberts all are represented on the album along with Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro of Toto, Richard Page of Mr. Mister and Pages, Lee Ritenour, Ian Underwood, Jim Keltner, and Paulinho da Costa...and one very special duet partner on the cusp of his greatest triumph.
Michael Jackson had previously recorded Sager and Foster's "It's the Falling in Love" for his 1979 solo breakthrough Off the Wall. He was visiting Carole in the studio when she invited him to join the session. The King of Pop came up with such a special part on the Bacharach/Sager composition "Just Friends" that Bacharach and Arthur happily offered him a co-production credit. Their stunning duet remains a highlight on album filled with similar, goosebump-raising moments including the top 40 hit single "Stronger Than Before," the moving "I Won't Break," the Neil Diamond collaboration "On the Way to the Sky," and the dramatic reinvention of Sager and Peter Allen's "You and Me (We Wanted It All)" as arranged by Hamlisch with a new ending by Bacharach. The songs were so strong that they inspired covers by Chaka Khan, Dionne Warwick, Carpenters, Steve Lawrence, and even Miles Davis.
Written and recorded in the early days of Sager and Bacharach's own romance, the highly personal Sometimes Late at Night "foretold certain things I didn't even know I was feeling," the singer-songwriter later confessed. Now, its time has come. Iconoclassic's reissue adds a treasure trove of bonus material including the distinctive, original single versions of both "Stronger Than Before" and "Easy to Love Again" which feature additional instrumentation and unique endings (whereas the album versions flow directly into the next song). But that's not all. 20 minutes of audio commentary from Sager and Bacharach has been culled from a rare radio station promotional album, offering vivid insight into their creative process at the time.
Sometimes Late at Night has been beautifully remastered by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios from the pristine, original Boardwalk Records tapes. The album is accompanied by a 24-page booklet designed by John Sellards which features photos, memorabilia, and a 5,600-word essay by The Second Disc's Joe Marchese, drawing on fresh and previously unpublished interviews with Carole Bayer Sager, Burt Bacharach, Melissa Manchester, and the late Brooks Arthur. In Iconoclassic's trademark style, the original Boardwalk label design has been used for the CD.
More than forty years after its debut, Sometimes Late at Night resonates with universal truths as beautifully revealed in song by Carole Bayer Sager, Burt Bacharach, and their friends. This one-of-a-kind album returns from Iconoclassic Records on February 3 and can be pre-ordered at the links below.
Carole Bayer Sager, Sometimes Late at Night: Expanded Edition (Boardwalk LP FW 37069, 1981 - reissued Iconoclassic Records ICON 1056, 2023) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- I Won't Break
- Just Friends
- Tell Her
- Somebody's Been Lying
- On The Way To The Sky
- You And Me (We Wanted It All)
- Sometimes Late At Night
- Wild Again
- Easy To Love Again
- Stronger Than Before
- You Don't Know Me
- Conversation with Carole and Burt, Part 1 (from The Carole Bayer Sager Radio Special with Burt Bacharach, Boardwalk promotional LP NBS-002, 1981)
- Stronger Than Before (Single Version) (Boardwalk single WS8-02054, 1981)
- Conversation with Carole and Burt, Part 2 (from The Carole Bayer Sager Radio Special with Burt Bacharach, Boardwalk promotional LP NBS-002, 1981)
- Easy To Love Again (Single Version) (Boardwalk single NB7-11-118, 1981)
- Conversation with Carole and Burt, Part 3 (from The Carole Bayer Sager Radio Special with Burt Bacharach, Boardwalk promotional LP NBS-002, 1981)
Harry N Cohen says
I was wondering what my first music purchase of 2023 would be. Thanks for making the decision for me!
I am really looking forward to this one.
I know it isn't even Christmas yet, but I do wish it was February 3!
I just clicked Amazon preorder!
All three of Carole's albums came out on a Raven double cd set in 2012. And there's not a duff track on there. Superb writer and singer!
Richard C Hatch says
Carole Bayer Sager's top 40 hit 'Stronger Than Before' is one of my favorite songs of the 80's. I played the 45 record, until I almost wore it out. I still love it, and I love her voice.
Richard C Hatch says
I love Carole Bayer Sager & her 1981 top hit 'Stronger Than Before' is one of my favorites of the 1980's. She's a beautiful lady, with a beautiful voice. And a music genius.
Philip John Birtwistle says
I wish the "Songbook" promo album would get a full release. So many great songs.
Don't forget her co-write of the crushing garage punker "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" by the Shadows of Knight.
I realize that I will be in the minority in what I'm about to say. But I feel compelled to comment on this post.
There is no question that Carole contributed to some amazing songs. I don't think she's a brilliant lyricist, but she's certainly a clever one. She was also in the right place at the right time, and was a very beautiful woman. The combination of some talent and cleverness, her beauty and being where she needed to be all added up to her becoming one of the major songwriters of the late 20th century. And let's face it: the list of hits is almost endless.
That said: I am sorry, but Carole should have never made her own albums. While she can hit notes on pitch (just), she has absolutely no timbre, vibrato, breath control, power or much of anything else. She is essentially reciting the lyrics in a musical tone, just barely eking out each note.
Let's take "Stronger Than Before" -- listen to Dionne Warwick sing it. Dionne is a world renown singer. She has all the vocal gifts that Carole does not. I found it unbearable to listen to Carole struggling to make it through the song. It sounds like she is on her deathbed and someone put a microphone in front of her and said, "For posterity's sake, let's get these songs down in your own voice." And she whispered, "Well, okay, but I can't really sing."
Her versions of her songs are demos at best. I don't care who they put on them as duet partners or background singers or guest instrumentalists. Since her voice (mixed just above audible level) is front and center, we are forced to listen to her scratch-whisper-bleat-bray.
I am a professional musician and songwriter and I've worked with hundreds of singers. Carole is not a singer, and I certainly don't think she thought she was one. But the opportunity to record these songs with the
crème de la crème was too irresistible to pass up.
The only song of hers that I thought her voice was possibly suited for (and that's being generous) was "There's Something About You" on the "... Too" album. It sounded like something that could have been written and recorded in the '30s or '40s. It was very movie-esque, and Marvin Hamlisch's use of the augmented chord made the song magical. And in fact, I might have hired Carole to sing it because it seemed to match her in a way the other songs didn't.
Yes, great songwriter, but, no, not a great singer. Yes, part of the pop history landscape of the 1970s, but it's best to hear her songs by people who can really sing.
Scott Bassin says
Well I think you're looking at this from the wrong perspective. This album 'Sometimes Late At Night' is a masterpiece. I don't listen to it to hear Carole's voice. I can easily over look that but the music is so amazing. I'm a musician and I can listen to amazing music sung by not great singers. I guess you don't posses that skill.
This is why I didn't want to post anything, because I knew that people would get judgmental.
How would you know what skills I have? You don't. Yes, Carole's songs (that she wrote lyrics for, not music) are good. Some of them are really great. She sounds like a songwriter singing bad demo version of the songs.
Carole King is not a great singer either, but she has passion in her voice. Carole Bayer Sager can barely eke out the notes on pitch.
I'm glad that you can listen to amazing music sung by not great singers. But please don't judge me and tell me what skills I have and don't.
I won't get involved in a further tit-for-tat.
Scott Bassin says
Well sorry about that. I guess I should have used different words. Bottom line is for me the music on this album is so strong that I just enjoy it for that. Yes I know Carole can't really sing and it's too bad she didn't get some top singers to sing these great songs.
Bob Dylan can't sing but he's managed dozens of well received albums and Kristofferson has done okay as well. Different strokes etc.
Scott Bassin says
Yes and thank you. I can completely tune Carole's voice to a bare minimum and focus on what's going on instrumentally.
Tatami53 - I agree with you; her singing voice can actually be hard to take, depending on the track. To me that isn't unusual; it's typically true for a lot of pop stars - they're often just in the right place at the right time, with the right looks. Or - dating the right songwriter/producer. And here...all of the above.
That said, you should check out this album if you haven't. It's an early-1980s LA soft rock album of the finest order - members of Toto, Lee Ritenour, David Foster, Michael Jackson. The biggest selling point is the music itself - the arrangements and playing are all top notch. Most of the music was written by some guy named Bacharach.
And Richard Page doing his best "Is that Michael McDonald?" impersonation on backing vocals.
I understand where you're coming from and I'm not trying to be defensive, but I enjoy every good song writer performing their own creations, even if they haven't the greatest voice or technique. Miss Bayer Sager's light, silvery voice and parlando delivery give the songs a special quality and introduction. I fully agree she doesn't exhaust their full potential yet as others have triumphantly done, but I'm very happy with Bayer Sager leaving us the charm and insight of these recordings.
Scott Bassin says
While I love this album I agree Carole is far from a singer. The material on this album is so strong that I don't even hear her voice the way it is as I'm too into the songs to let here minimouse voice take away anything from the songs.
Who owns the masters? Carole? 43 North Broadway?