Carole Bayer Sager

...Too

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Carole Bayer Sager's second album should have made this major songwriter a big, big singing star. Though it does not feature any of her hits or semi-hits, something that made her Elektra debut from the previous year extra special, Too comes very close to being a masterpiece. "You're Interesting," co-written with the late Peter Allen, latches onto your heart as it ends side one, just the way the disc begins with "To Make You Smile Again," authored by the singer and her friend Melissa Manchester. Ex-husband Marvin Hamlisch is on piano, Nino Tempo plays exquisite tenor sax, the performance recorded live at Wally Heider Studios on March 22, 1978. Arranged and conducted by Don Costa, this elegant music is a stark contrast to Sager's vocals, which can only be described as Marianne Faithful doing light pop after the 10,000 cigarettes -- Faithful during her "Broken English" not "As Tears Go By" phase. Perhaps too quirky for '70s radio which devoured the smooth tones of Neil Diamond, Helen Reddy, and Carole King, there is a magic to Carole Bayer Sager's Too that makes it stand apart from other singer/songwriter collections. Michael McDonald duets on "It's the Falling in Love," a superb production by Brooks Arthur of this David Foster/Bayer Sager major-league effort. Melissa Manchester again co-writes, and "Peace in My Heart" is a little more subdued than what Manchester became famous for -- big ballads which were almost as ostentatious as those of her former cohort, Barry Manilow. Each tune helps weave the "tapestry" that is this album, a record which failed to reach the audience that Manilow, Carole King, and other stars developed throughout the '70s. Alice Cooper co-writes and co-sings "Shadows" along with producer Bruce Roberts -- and though even the hard rocker, Cooper, found fame with his middle-of-the-road pop tunes written with Dick Wagner at this point in time, "Shadows" never got the radio exposure it deserved. The pairing is brilliant -- not the shocker it looks like on paper. Looking at the credits, one gets the feeling this is a very calculated disc, with the star power being used for commercial rather than artistic reasons. Listening to it, the reality is the exact opposite. This is a tremendous recording by a name songwriter with powerful friends having fun. Marvin Hamlisch's sole songwriting contribution with King, "There's Something About You," is beautiful, and in stark contrast to the Philly sound of "I Don't Wanna Dance No More," another up-tempo David Foster/Bayer Sager number. The final song, "I'm Coming Home Again," written with producer Bruce Roberts, is like a sequel to "Home to Myself" from the previous album. There are great albums by singer/songwriters out there, collections by Jackie DeShannon, Randy Edelman, Tim Moore, David Pomeranz, and others, and all have striking and tremendous moments. This has the best that this talented songsmith has to offer. It is a very special record.

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