Lazy Afternoon (Barbra Streisand album)

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Lazy Afternoon
The singer sits surrounded by various blankets and pillows while wearing a pink gown and matching hat.
Studio album by Barbra Streisand
Released October 14, 1975 (1975-10-14)
Recorded April 1975 (1975-04)
Studio Record Plant, RCA Studios, Capitol Recording Studios
(Los Angeles)
Genre Traditional pop
Length 36:03
Label Columbia
Producer
Barbra Streisand chronology
Funny Lady
(1975)
Lazy Afternoon
(1975)
Classical Barbra
(1976)
Singles from Lazy Afternoon
  1. "My Father's Song"
    Released: August 1975 (1975-08)
  2. "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)"
    Released: November 12, 1975 (1975-11-12)

Lazy Afternoon is the seventeenth studio album recorded by American singer Barbra Streisand. It was released on October 14, 1975 by Columbia Records. After releasing the Funny Lady soundtrack earlier in 1975, the singer began working with new musicians for the project following the mediocre response generated from her previous studio album, ButterFly (1974). Recorded in April 1975 in Los Angeles, Lazy Afternoon is musically a traditional pop record consisting of songs influenced by disco and pop music. Producer Rupert Holmes wrote four songs on the album, and Streisand received her first songwriting credit for the song "By the Way". She also included a few cover songs, such as Four Tops' "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)" and Libby Holman's "Moanin' Low".

The album received generally favorable reviews from music critics who agreed that it more exciting than ButterFly. The simplistic production also received praise from critics, although AllMusic's William Ruhlmann found it to be unimpressive.[1] Commercially, the album peaked at number 12 on the United States' Billboard 200; it also reached the lower positions of the charts in both Australia and Canada. It would later be certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for physical sales exceeding 500,000 copies. "My Father's Song" and "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)" were released as the album's two singles in August and November 1975, respectively. The former entered the Adult Contemporary charts in the United States and Canada while the latter was a success on two of Billboard's dance charts in late 1975.

Development[edit]

Following the release of the Funny Lady soundtrack earlier in 1975, Streisand began work on Lazy Afternoon by collaborating with different producers, such as Jeffrey Lesser and Rupert Holmes.[2][3] Because of the lackluster response generated from the release of her previous album, ButterFly (1974), and her personal dislike for the record, she had wished to collaborate with new musicians for the then-upcoming album.[4][5][6] Holmes, in particular, was nervous while working with the singer and he was considered to be relatively unknown. Following the completion of the album and in order to thank Holmes for their collaborations, Streisand hand-wrote him a note that read, "Dear Rupert, don't be frightened, you're the best, love Barbra".[7] Specifically, she was touched by the track "My Father's Song", which she considered to be "a very personal gift [that] mean[t] a great to deal" to her.[8]

Recording sessions for the album took place at Record Plant, RCA Studios, and Capitol Recording Studios in Los Angeles in April 1975. Streisand and Columbia Records released Lazy Afternoon on March 14, 1975 as her seventeenth studio album overall.[8] It was her first album of many to feature handwritten liner notes by Streisand herself; she opened the booklet by writing, "While I usually let the vinyl speak for itself, I really had fun making this record, and I thought it might interest you to know something about each song. After all, I wouldn't want to be a chef who doesn't share her secrets!"[8] Additionally, the aforementioned label issued the album as an 8-track cartridge later in 1975, with the track listing switching the order of "By the Way" and "Widescreen" around.[9] The album was later released in a compact disc format on October 25, 1990.[10]

Music and lyrics[edit]

As a whole, the album contains a mixture of several different genres of music, particularly pop standards. Other songs were influenced by disco and pop music, which author Tom Santopietro described as the singer being able to "cover [...] all fan bases without seriously alienating any".[2] Lazy Afternoon opens with the title track, originally written by John La Touche and Jerome Moross.[8] A "poetic nature song",[11] producer Francis Coppola suggested to Streisand over dinner that she record the song in order to "reviv[e]" it.[8] Lead single "My Father's Song" was written solely by Holmes and is the first original song on the track listing. Being about Streisand's father,[12] Holmes hoped to achieve lyrics that included "everything that a daughter might want to hear her father say".[13] The track among others was considered to be a "sympathetic" ballad that relies on Streisand's vocals.[1] "By the Way", the record's third track, is noted as Streisand's first songwriting credit in her entire career.[2] While writing the track, Streisand incorporated her personal "emotions" into the lyrics.[14] It is followed by a cover of Four Tops' "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)", which was also the album's second single. The original version, set in a gospel rock tempo,[15] was updated into a disco track.[1] Lyrically, the story of a lost love is told, with her neighbors supposedly discussing the matter during "long and sleepless night[s]".[15] The previously unreleased "I Never Had It So Good" is the fifth track on Lazy Afternoon and was written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols. She wrote in the album's liner notes that she had always wanted to sing it and accompany it with someone playing the harmonica.[8]

"Letters That Cross in the Mail" was the first song recorded for the album. Streisand herself claimed that the inspiration behind the track was simple: it is "about love and the postal service".[8] Santopietro wrote that Holmes' love for of "big band sound[s]" and "a full symphonic orchestra" is evident in the production.[2] Following her cover of "All in Love Is Fair" in 1974, seventh track "You and I" is Streisand's second cover of a Stevie Wonder song.[16] Taken from his 1972 studio album Talking Book, she called the pop[2] song "immediately [...] touch[ing]" and considered Wonder "brilliant" for his work on it.[8] Written by Howard Dietz and Ralph Rainger, Streisand's cover of Libby Holman's "Moanin' Low" appears as the eighth song.[8] In order to place focus on the lyrics during the song, the production contains "octave leaps" while Streisand "changes timbre frequently and quickly between loud and soft sections and high and low pitches".[14] Ninth track "A Child Is Born" features a simplistic piano arrangement accompanied solely by Streisand's vocals; Columbia Records executive reacted to the track's new genre for the singer, stating, "You could put Barbra in front of a rock band or a symphony orchestra, she would still be Barbra Streisand, not compromising, not uncomfortable".[17] "Widescreen", the album's closing track, was inspired by the singer's love of film; according to author Patrick E. Horrigan, it specifically explains "how the movies, dark and dreamlike, seduce us into believing that life can be fulfilling, then let us down as soon as we return to the light of day".[18] It was also the last of four tracks written by Holmes and has a production consisting of "synthesized electronics".[8][17]

Singles[edit]

"My Father's Song" was released as the album's lead single in August 1975.[19] Released as a 7" record in the United States and Spain, the song was also recorded in Spanish under the title "La Canción de Mi Padre". Both versions were paired with B-side "By the Way", although the Spanish of the track was titled "Da Paso".[20] The single enjoyed success on the Adult Contemporary charts in both the United States and Canada, where it peaked at numbers 11 and 15, respectively.[21][22] Nicky Siano, a disc jockey, began playing Streisand's version of "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)" at The Gallery nightclub in New York City in the fall of 1975; in a handwritten letter by Streisand for Siano, she wrote that the hype generated from playing her cover at the club prompted Columbia Records to release it as another single from Lazy Afternoon.[23][24] It was distributed in in 7" and 12" vinyl formats on November 12, 1975 featuring the B-side and album track "Widescreen".[25][26] A British version of the single was also created and features the longer cut of the single instead of the album version.[27][28] Streisand's cover was noted by writers for Billboard as an attempt for pop singers to begin "releasing disco records"; other singers like Andy Williams and Ethel Merman were also mentioned as individuals following the fad.[29] Due to heavy airplay in dance clubs, it entered two of the dance charts compiled by Billboard; it peaked at number 14 on the Dance Club Songs chart and number 10 on the now-defunct Disco Singles chart.[30]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[1]

Lazy Afternoon has received positive reviews from music critics. In a retrospective review, The Quietus columnist Simon Price described Lazy Afternoon as one of his favorite albums, in addition to calling it "cinematic", "dreamy", and a "gorgeous experience". He recommended it as "the album for people who don't like Barbra Streisand" as it would likely change their minds.[7] Stephen Holden from Rolling Stone applauded Streisand on Lazy Afternoon, finding it to be a better album than 1974's ButterFly. He called "By the Way" as one of her most classic songs and found her vocals to be "controlled"; he also liked Holmes and Lesser's contributions as producers. Furthermore, Holden felt that as "the greatest singer of the past quarter-century, Streisand is one artist who not only withstands elaborate production but thrives on it".[31] Derek Winnert, who wrote a biography book on Streisand, found the album to be "outstanding" and considered "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)" and "By the Way" as the album's two best tracks.[32] With a more mixed opinion, AllMusic's William Ruhlmann awarded the album three out of five stars. Heliked Streisand's vocals and the "delicately played individual instruments" that focused on them. However, he concluded with, "for the most part, Lazy Afternoon was true to its title, a collection of relaxed performances that was pleasant without being particularly impressive".[1]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, Lazy Afternoon debuted at number 107 on the Billboard 200 chart for the week ending November 1, 1975.[33] It continued rising on the charts for several weeks before peaking at number 12 on December 20 of that same year.[34] And later in 1976 due to the album's strong sales, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified Lazy Afternoon Gold on April 14, 1976 for physical sales exceeding 500,000 copies.[35] In Canada, the album peaked at a much lower position; it debuted on RPM's official list at number 69 as the week's third highest entry on December 20, 1975.[36] The following month and year, it would reach its peak position at number 42.[37] It also charted in Australia, where it peaked at number 84 according to the Kent Music Report.[38]

Track listing[edit]

Lazy Afternoon – Standard edition[8]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Lazy Afternoon" 3:47
2. "My Father's Song" Rupert Holmes 3:52
3. "By the Way"
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Holmes
2:55
4. "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)" 2:50
5. "I Never Had It So Good" 3:35
6. "Letters That Cross in the Mail" Holmes 3:36
7. "You and I" Stevie Wonder 4:16
8. "Moanin' Low" 4:25
9. "A Child Is Born" 2:48
10. "Widescreen" Holmes 3:59
Total length: 36:03

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of the standard edition of Lazy Afternoon.[8]

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Ruhlmann, William. "Barbra Streisand – Lazy Afternoon". AllMusic. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Santopietro 2007, p. 33
  3. ^ Bronson 2003, p. 1010
  4. ^ Nickens & Swenson 2000, p. 24
  5. ^ Santopietro 2007, p. 32
  6. ^ Pohly 2000, p. 75
  7. ^ a b Price, Simon (December 3, 2014). "Girls Don't Cry: Rumer's Favourite Albums". The Quietus. Retrieved March 16, 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Lazy Afternoon (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand (Vinyl release ed.). Columbia. 1975. PC 33815. 
  9. ^ a b Lazy Afternoon (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand (8-track cartridge ed.). Columbia. 1975. CAQ 33815. 
  10. ^ "Lazy Afternoon: Barbra Streisand". Amazon.com. October 25, 1990. Retrieved March 27, 2017. 
  11. ^ Garrett, Daniel (July 26, 2006). "A review of The Essential Barbra Streisand and Guilty Pleasures". Compulsive Reader. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  12. ^ Waldman 2001, p. 56
  13. ^ Howe, Matt (August 2003). "Interviews: Rupert Holmes". Barbra Streisand Archives. Retrieved March 30, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b Pohly 2000, p. 77
  15. ^ a b Holland, Edward; Dozier, Lamont; Holland, Brian (1966). "The Four Tops 'Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)' Digital Sheet Music". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  16. ^ Waldman 2001, p. 54
  17. ^ a b Waldman 2001, p. 57
  18. ^ Horrigan 1999, p. xvi
  19. ^ "My Father's Song" / "By the Way" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. Columbia. 1975. 3-10198. Whatever you are, you're going to be. Whatever you are is all right with me. 
  20. ^ "La Canción de Mi Padre" / "Da Paso" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. CBS. 1975. 3613. 
  21. ^ "Adult Contemporary – The Week Of October 25, 1975". Billboard. October 25, 1975. Retrieved March 16, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 4053". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 27, 2017. 
  23. ^ Hermes 2012, p. 154
  24. ^ Lawrence 2004, p. 202
  25. ^ Moulton, Tom (November 15, 1975). "Club Dialog". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 87 (46): 40. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved March 18, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)" / "Widescreen" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. Columbia. 1975. 3-10272. 
  27. ^ "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)" / "Widescreen" (Liner notes). Barbra Streisand. CBS. 1976. CBS 4027. 
  28. ^ Aletti 2009, p. 148
  29. ^ Grein, Paul (April 14, 1979). "Everyone's Jumping on Disco Bandwagon". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 91 (15): 4, 6. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved March 31, 2017. 
  30. ^ "Barbra Streisand: Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  31. ^ Holden, Stephen (January 15, 1976). "Album Reviews: Barbra Streisand – Lazy Afternoon". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 9, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  32. ^ Winnert 1996, p. 1999
  33. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week Of November 1, 1975". Billboard. November 1, 1975. Retrieved March 23, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week Of December 20, 1975". Billboard. December 20, 1975. Retrieved March 23, 2017. 
  35. ^ a b "American album certifications – Barbra Streisand – Lazy Afternoon". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 22, 2017.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  36. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4045b". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 23, 2017. 
  37. ^ a b "Top RPM Albums: Issue 4066b." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
  38. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  39. ^ "Barbra Streisand – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Barbra Streisand. Retrieved March 22, 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Aletti, Vince (2009). The Disco Files 1973–78 (illustrated ed.). DJhistory.com Publishing. ISBN 0-9561896-0-1. 
  • Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (illustrated, revised ed.). Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6. 
  • Hermes, Will (September 4, 2012). Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever (illustrated, reprinted ed.). Macmillan. ISBN 0-374-53354-7. 
  • Horrigan, Patrick E. (April 20, 1999). Widescreen Dreams: Growing Up Gay at the Movies. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-16163-3. 
  • Lawrence, Tim (January 12, 2004). Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-8511-2. 
  • 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. 
  • Waldman, Allison J. (2001). The Barbra Streisand Scrapbook (illustrated, revised ed.). Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2218-6. 
  • Winnert, Derek (1996). Barbra Streisand (illustrated ed.). Book Company. ISBN 0-7525-1603-5. 

External links[edit]