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ButterFly (Barbra Streisand album)

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ButterFly
A stick of butter with a single fly atop it, along with the album's title and the word "Barbra".
Studio album by Barbra Streisand
Released October 1, 1974 (1974-10-01)
Recorded March–July 1974
Studio A&M Studios, United-Western Recorders
(Los Angeles)
Genre Contemporary pop
Length 35:40
Label Columbia
Producer Jon Peters
Barbra Streisand chronology
The Way We Were: Original Soundtrack Recording
(1974)The Way We Were: Original Soundtrack Recording1974
ButterFly
(1974)
Funny Lady
(1975)Funny Lady1975
Singles from ButterFly
  1. "Guava Jelly"
    Released: December 16, 1974 (1974-12-16)
  2. "Jubilation"
    Released: April 1975 (1975-04)

ButterFly is the sixteenth studio album by American singer Barbra Streisand. It was released on October 1, 1974 by Columbia Records. After releasing The Way We Were earlier in 1974, a collection predominantly consisting of previously released songs, Streisand recorded her first album of entirely new material in over three years. Recorded throughout 1974 and primarily a contemporary pop record, it also incorporates music from the reggae and R&B genres. All of the tracks on ButterFly are cover songs produced by Streisand's then-boyfriend Jon Peters, originating from artists like Bob Marley, David Bowie, Evie Sands, and Graham Nash.

The album received mixed reviews from music critics who questioned whether or not Peters' experience in the music industry was enough for him to produce an entire album. However, Tom Scott's involvement with the album was praised, particularly his position as an arranger. In a 1991 interview on Larry King Live, Streisand revealed that ButterFly was her least favorite album in her music catalog. Commercially, the album peaked in the lower positions of Australia, Canada, and the United States. It would later be certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for physical sales exceeding 500,000 copies. "Guava Jelly" and "Jubilation" were released as the album's two singles in December 1974 and April 1975, respectively.

Background and recording[edit]

Earlier in January 1974, Streisand released The Way We Were and the official soundtrack to the film The Way We Were (1973), both of which were commercially successful, with the former album selling over 2 million copies in the United States.[1] The Way We Were predominantly featured material from Streisand's unreleased album The Singer, with only three tracks recorded specifically for the new project.[2] ButterFly was Streisand's first album of completely new material in over three years and was produced solely by her then-boyfriend, Jon Peters.[3][4] Due to Peters' minimal experience in the music industry, it was suggested by AllMusic's William Ruhlmann that the album's overall sound was orchestrated more by saxophonist Tom Scott rather than Peters.[3] Streisand also collaborated with several composers and musicians for ButterFly, including John Bahler, Hank Cicalo, John Guerin, and Clarence McDonald.[5]

Recording sessions for the album took place at A&M Studios and United-Western Recorders in Los Angeles between March and July 1974. "I Won't Last a Day Without You", "Since I Don't Have You", and "Crying Time" were the first tracks to be recorded, all during a session on March 25, 1974 at United-Western. The remaining tracks were all recorded throughout July 1974 at A&M Studios. Scott and composer Lee Holdridge handled the arrangement of the ten tracks, while John Bahler arranged the horns and vocal production.[6] Streisand and Columbia Records released ButterFly on October 1, 1974 as her sixteenth studio album overall, distributed months after The Way We Were.[1][7] The same label issued the album as an 8-track cartridge in 1974, with the track listing switching the order of "Jubilation" and "Crying Time" around.[8] The album was later released in a compact disc format on October 25, 1990.[9]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Bob Marley singing and playing guitar at a concert in Zurich, Switzerland in 1980.
Bob Marley's "Guava Jelly" was covered by Streisand and released as the lead single from ButterFly.

On ButterFly, Streisand departed from the pop and rock influences that were strong on her previous efforts and instead relied more on a variety of experimental, contemporary pop music.[3][10] The singer also explored the reggae and classic R&B genres that were, at the time, popular on mainstream radio.[11] The album opens with a "seductive"[10] version of "Love in the Afternoon", a song originally performed by American singer Evie Sands earlier in 1974.[12][13] It was written by Sands, Ben Geminaro, and Richard Wiseman; production of "Love in the Afternoon" and all songs on ButterFly were solely handled by Peters.[5] "Guava Jelly" is track two and a cover of Bob Marley's 1971 single. One of the reggae songs on the album,[14] it features "risqué lyrics" that suggest that guava jelly could be used as a type of sexual lubricant.[15][16] Bill Withers's R&B ballad "Grandma's Hands" follows and is primarily a "gospel-flavored" song.[10][17] Lyrically, it details a woman who shares a strong bond with her grandmother.[18] "I Won't Last a Day Without You" is the fourth track and a cover of the Carpenters' 1974 single; it was written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols.[5] The album's second and final single, "Jubilation", was a song made famous by Paul Anka in 1972. In response to Streisand's rendition of the track, Anka questioned her decision to have Peters produce but remarked, "Barbra can sing the phone book. She has no problem singing anything. She's got one of the great voices".[19]

Track six is "Simple Man", originally performed by Graham Nash for his debut album, Songs for Beginners (1971). Written about an individual getting over a bad relationship, Nash wrote the song immediately after breaking up with his then-girlfriend Joni Mitchell.[20] David Bowie's "Life on Mars" is the seventh track, also written by Bowie.[5] During an interview with Playboy in 1975, Bowie was asked what he thought regarding Streisand's cover; disappointed, he claimed that it was "bloody awful" and "atrocious".[21] The preceding track ("Since I Don't Have You") was written by seven of the band members from the Skyliners and advertised as a "classic" on ButterFly.[22] "Crying Time" and "Let the Good Times Roll" finish off the record, serving as the ninth and tenth tracks, respectively. The former song was written by Buck Owens, originally performed by Ray Charles, and previously recorded by Streisand during a live television special called Barbra Streisand…and Other Musical Instruments in 1973. Author Francis David compared Streisand's vocal capabilities on the track to those of Aretha Franklin's.[23] Meanwhile, "Let the Good Times Roll" is a cover of the 1956 Shirley & Lee original. Written by Leonard Lee and Shirley Goodman, Goodman does not receive a writing credit on the album's official liner notes and would later take Lee to federal court to receive credit.[24]

Singles[edit]

The album's lead single "Guava Jelly" was released as a 7" record on December 16, 1974, two months after the release of ButterFly.[25] It was paired with "Love in the Afternoon" and "Life on Mars" as a B-side track in the United States and the Netherlands, respectively.[25][26] "Jubilation" was the record's second and final single, released in April 1975 by Columbia in the same physical formats as "Guava Jelly".[27] On the Germany release of "Jubilation", it would be paired with B-side "Crying Time",[28] but the Canada and United States versions featured "Let the Good Times Roll" instead.[27]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[3]
Billboard Favorable[11]
Rolling Stone Unfavorable[29]

ButterFly has received mixed reviews from music critics. In a highly positive review, a critic from Billboard described it as "possibly the finest LP Ms. Streisand has ever come up with, artistically and commercially". The reviewer lauded her vocals and her ability to adapt to the music while also taking a liking to Peters' production capabilities. The critic also recommended "Love in the Afternoon", "Guava Jelly", "Grandma's Hands", "Jubilation", "Life on Mars", "Since I Don't Have You", and "Let the Good Times Roll" as the album's "best cuts".[11] Despite being Streisand's first collection of new material in approximately three years, AllMusic's Ruhlmann was disappointed by the singer's decision to work with Peters on the album. He felt that Peters' background in the music industry was "nonexistent" and instead highlighted Tom Scott, the album's arranger, as the "real power on the album". Concluding, Ruhlmann claimed that although ButterFly is a charming album, it ultimately only sold to Streisand's fan base rather than the general public.[3]

Ben Gerson from Rolling Stone called the songs on the album "forgettable" and "unconvincing". He also criticized Streisand's authenticity when singing lyrics that he considered "meaningless from the lips of an American".[29] Because of the lackluster response generated from the record, Streisand decided to work with new musicians on her following album, Lazy Afternoon (1975). Her decision pleased both critics and her fans, who felt that the new album was stronger than ButterFly.[30] Years later in 1991, Streisand took to Larry King Live and announced her complete displeasure with ButterFly and the songs on it. She deemed it as her least favorite album and joked that she would like to withdraw it from her catalog altogether.[31][32]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, ButterFly debuted at number 72 on the Billboard 200 chart for the week ending November 16, 1974.[33] The following week it rose to number 52 and on January 4, 1975, it reached its peak position at number 13.[34][35] The record spent a total of 24 consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200. ButterFly was commercially less successful than its predecessor, which topped the Billboard 200.[36] However, due to the album's strong sales, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified ButterFly gold on January 6, 1975 for physical sales exceeding 500,000 copies.[1] In Canada, the album peaked at a slightly higher position. It debuted on the list, compiled by RPM, at number 92 on November 23, 1974,[37] and 11 weeks later it would peak at number 11 on February 15, 1975.[38] In total, it spent 17 weeks charting in that country.[39] It also charted in Australia, where it peaked at number 49 according to the Kent Music Report.[40]

Track listing[edit]

ButterFly – Standard edition[6]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Love in the Afternoon"
4:07
2. "Guava Jelly" 3:19
3. "Grandma's Hands" Bill Withers 3:27
4. "I Won't Last a Day Without You" 4:16
5. "Jubilation" 3:52
6. "Simple Man" Graham Nash 3:03
7. "Life on Mars" David Bowie 3:13
8. "Since I Don't Have You"
  • Lenny Martin
  • Joseph Rock
  • Jackie Taylor
  • James Beaumont
  • Janet Vogel
  • Wally Lester
  • Joe Verscharen
2:52
9. "Crying Time" Buck Owens 2:51
10. "Let the Good Times Roll" Leonard Lee 4:57
Total length: 35:40

All tracks produced by Jon Peters.[6]

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of the CD edition of ButterFly.[5]

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "American album certifications – Barbra Streisand – ButterFly". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 4, 2017.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  2. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Barbra Streisand – The Way We Were". AllMusic. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Ruhlmann, William. "Barbra Streisand – ButterFly". AllMusic. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 
  4. ^ Edwards 2016, p. 401
  5. ^ a b c d e ButterFly (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand (CD release ed.). Columbia. 1990. CK 33005. 
  6. ^ a b c ButterFly (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand (Vinyl release ed.). Columbia. 1974. PC 33005. 
  7. ^ The Way We Were (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand (CD release ed.). Columbia. 1974. C4K 44111. 
  8. ^ a b ButterFly (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand (8-track cartridge ed.). Columbia. 1974. CAQ 33005. 
  9. ^ "Butterfly: Barbra Streisand". Amazon.com. October 25, 1990. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c Waldman 2001, p. 56
  11. ^ a b c Billboard staff (November 9, 1974). "Billboard's Top Album Picks: November 9, 1974". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 86 (45): 52. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 
  12. ^ Estate of Mind (Liner notes). Evie Sands. Capitol, Haven. 1974. ST-9202. 
  13. ^ Bush, John. "Evie Sands – Estate of Mind". AllMusic. Retrieved March 5, 2017. 
  14. ^ Waldman 2001, p. 401
  15. ^ Stoddart 2007, p. 67
  16. ^ Guillory & Green 1998, p. 63
  17. ^ Clemente 2013, p. 43
  18. ^ Cozolino 2008, p. 244
  19. ^ Anka & Dalton 2013, p. 170
  20. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Graham Nash – Songs for Beginners". AllMusic. Retrieved March 5, 2017. 
  21. ^ johnnyr6 (October 9, 2014). "6 Things You May Not Have Known About David Bowie's "Life on Mars?"". BuzzFeed. Retrieved March 5, 2017. 
  22. ^ "A New Beauty to Add to Your Collection". New York. New York Media, LLC. 7 (47): 39. November 25, 1974. ISSN 0028-7369. 
  23. ^ Davis 2012, p. 263
  24. ^ "I. Facts". Federal Reporter. 815: 1031. 1987. Retrieved March 5, 2017. 
  25. ^ a b "Guava Jelly" / "Love in the Afternoon" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. Columbia. 1974. 3-10075. 
  26. ^ "Guava Jelly" / "Life on Mars" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. CBS. 1974. CBSA 1490. 
  27. ^ a b "Jubilation" / "Let the Good Times Roll" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. Columbia. 1975. 3-10130. 
  28. ^ "Jubilation" / "Crying Time" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. CBS. 1975. CBS S 2933. 
  29. ^ a b Gerson, Ben (January 2, 1975). "Barbra Streisand – Butterfly". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 
  30. ^ Nickens & Swenson 2000, p. 24
  31. ^ Santopietro 2007, p. 32
  32. ^ Pohly 2000, p. 75
  33. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week Of November 16, 1974". Billboard. November 16, 1974. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week Of November 23, 1974". Billboard. November 23, 1974. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 
  35. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week Of January 4, 1975". Billboard. January 4, 1975. Retrieved March 4, 2017. 
  36. ^ a b "Barbra Streisand – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Barbra Streisand. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  37. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 3888b". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 5, 2017. 
  38. ^ a b "Top RPM Albums: Issue 3919a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  39. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 3934b". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 5, 2017. 
  40. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Anka, Paul; Dalton, David (April 9, 2013). My Way: An Autobiography. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 1-250-03520-1. 
  • Clemente, John (2013). Girl Groups: Fabulous Females Who Rocked the World. AuthorHouse. ISBN 1-4772-7633-5. 
  • Cozolino, Louis J. (2008). The Healthy Aging Brain: Sustaining Attachment, Attaining Wisdom. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-70513-7. 
  • Davis, Francis (February 22, 2012). Bebop and Nothingness: Jazz and Pop at the End of the Century. Music Sales Group. ISBN 0-85712-766-7. 
  • Edwards, Anne (February 15, 2016). Streisand: A Biography. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 1-63076-129-X. 
  • Guillory, Monique; Green, Richard (1998). Soul: Black Power, Politics, and Pleasure (illustrated ed.). NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-3084-1. 
  • Nickens, Christopher; Swenson, Karen (2000). The Films of Barbra Streisand (illustrated ed.). Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-1954-1. 
  • Pohly, Linda (January 1, 2000). The Barbra Streisand Companion: A Guide to Her Vocal Style and Repertoire (illustrated ed.). Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30414-9. 
  • Santopietro, Tom (April 1, 2007). The Importance of Being Barbra: The Brilliant, Tumultuous Career of Barbra Streisand. Macmillan. ISBN 1-4299-0853-X. 
  • Stoddart, Mervin (2007). Bob Marley's Lyrics: Understanding and Explaining Their Pedagogical Value. ProQuest. ISBN 0-549-31536-5. 
  • Waldman, Allison J. (2001). The Barbra Streisand Scrapbook (illustrated, revised ed.). Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2218-6. 

External links[edit]