Carole Bayer Sager

Carole Bayer Sager

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This is actually an extraordinary album by the veteran songwriter who hit as far back as 1966 with "A Groovy Kind of Love." The little granny voice of Carole Bayer Sager is full of soul and passion -- so pure and fragile, it is a shame it never got to dominate the charts. The title track of Melissa Manchester's Home to Myself album is a total delight here, closing out this set; it was released four years after Manchester's version. It's a home run on a ten-song Brooks Arthur production that is full of big moments. Sager co-wrote Midnight Blue, Manchester's breakthrough hit on Arista, but "Home to Myself" was on the Bell imprint, presumably when Larry Uttall ran the label prior to Clive Davis coming onboard. With that in mind, these compact gems seem all the more precious, be it a lesser-known title like "Steal Away Again," co-written by Bette Midler and Bruce Roberts, or one of the many covers of her more popular titles: "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love," which Rita Coolidge brought to the Top 40 in 1980, three years after this incarnation; or "Come in From the Rain" and "You're Moving Out Today," two songs that were minor adult contemporary hits. It is amazing the 5th Dimension or Peaches & Herb couldn't take "Steal Away Again" to the masses, or that Helen Reddy let something so good slip through her fingers. The stellar cast makes this collection a keeper beyond the solid songwriting. Peter Allen co-writes "Shy As a Violet," but it is the Divine Ms. Midler who provides the backing vocal and harmony. Tony Orlando does the same with the excellent "Don't Wish Too Hard," also co-written by Peter Allen, who provides his piano playing on both as well. Madeline Kahn, Marvin Hamlisch, Paul Buckmaster, and Boston's Alan Estes all contribute to this true masterpiece of songwriting. More than just a "demo" for popular artists, Sager's presentation is more commercial than her novel Extravagant Gestures. A songwriter is who she is, and her voice on this disc may not be as powerful as Carole King, Melissa Manchester, or as unique asMidler's, but she can move you.

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