Sunday, February 23, 2014

Carole Bayer Sager - too

I'm not sure what the impetus was, but I discovered about a month ago that the Australian record company Raven had licensed all three of CBS's albums and had released them as a double cd set. It might well be that this review was the key; once I knew that there was a release, it was a simple matter of purchasing it via Amazon. I have to state that I find Amazon very expensive - the packaging is often as expensive as the contents - and frequently try to find alternatives. But often there is no alternative, and I can allow myself one extravagant purchase every now and then.

The double disc arrived a week ago; I've been playing it on and off whilst working on the computer at home. As I already have the first record on cd, I was conversant with its contents and won't relate to it here.

I was reminded how the second album ("Too") was not as good as its predecessor. It's also fairly short - the first two albums fit on one cd with a playing time of 70 minutes. Whilst the songs have a wider range of styles, only one or two are as good as the average song on the first album - in other words, it's not as good. This opinion is upheld in the external review.

The third album, though, is something different. It took me a while to put my finger on the significant difference between this album and its predecessors, but eventually I realised that it was produced as an entire album and not as a collection of individual songs. Whilst the use of links and crossfades provides a unified listening experience, it's the level of production which makes the difference. I am referring especially to the way the songs are played: it's not like the first album which generally featured someone strumming a guitar (or playing a simple piano accompaniment) with overlaid strings; great attention has been paid to the dynamics of each song, so there might be four lines played in one style, then some form of stylistic break. This means that listening is a much more rewarding experience.

There's also more advanced use of extra vocalists: sometimes there are simple backing vocals, sometimes duets with CBS, sometimes another vocalist will sing lead, etc. One of those vocalists is the late Michael Jackson - I think that this is the only place where he appears in my extensive collection of recorded music, although as I once noted, I have very few recordings by black people. It's all a question of style, and black people aren't noted for playing English traditional music or progressive rock, the two mainstays of my collection.

Minor carp: these days it seems almost obligatory to add bonus material to a rerelease. There is no such material here, despite the fact that the second cd is half empty. It might have been rewarding to hear non-album CBS tracks, but maybe there aren't any.

[SO: 3347; 2, 12, 30]
[MP&P: 336; 0, 0, 4]

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