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." Tomorrow, February 3, 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 tomorrow 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)
Rob M says
She was a heck of a talented songwriter. Her voice, though, was always a tough listen for me.
It will be interesting, though, to hear this without the layer of gauze it’s always seemed to have on CD.
Philip John Birtwistle says
I wish that they would make a full release of the promo Songbook set. Let's be abl;e to buy it for sensible money!!!!
Donald Cleveland says
A personal hope of mine, too~! (Full disclosure- I own a copy of Songbook as I collect these Songwriting Publishing CDs- where they make sense)