Lazy Afternoon (Barbra Streisand album)
|Studio album by Barbra Streisand|
|Released||October 1, 1975|
|Studio||Record Plant, RCA Studios, Capitol Recording Studios
|Barbra Streisand chronology|
|Singles from Lazy Afternoon|
Lazy Afternoon is a studio album recorded by American singer Barbra Streisand. It was released on October 1, 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 critical response generated from her previous studio album, ButterFly (1974). Recorded in April 1975 in Los Angeles, Lazy Afternoon contains pop standards. 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)", Stevie Wonder's "You and I", and Libby Holman's "Moanin' Low".
The album received generally favorable reviews from music critics who agreed that it was more exciting than ButterFly. The production also received praise from critics. Commercially, the album peaked at number 12 on the United States, number 42 in Canada, and number 84 in Australia. It was later certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of 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.
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. Because of the lackluster critical 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. Holmes, in particular, was nervous while working with the singer. 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". 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.
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 October 1, 1975. It features handwritten liner notes developed 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!" Additionally, the 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. The album was later released in a compact disc format on October 25, 1990.
Music and lyrics
As a whole, the album contains a mixture of several different genres of music, particularly pop standards. Commenting on the diverse musical nature of the album, author Tom Santopietro described as the singer being able to "cover [...] all fan bases without seriously alienating any". Lazy Afternoon opens with the title track, originally written by John La Touche and Jerome Moross. A "poetic nature song" where "Streisand gives her voice totally over to the lyrics", director Francis Ford Coppola suggested to the singer over dinner that she record the song in order to revive it. "My Father's Song" was written solely by Holmes and is the first original song on the track listing. Being about the singer's late father, Holmes began work on the track after Streisand shared personal, childhood stories of her father to him. Like other album tracks, it was considered to be a "sympathetic" ballad that relies on Streisand's vocals, according to AllMusic's William Ruhlmann. "By the Way", the record's third track, is noted as Streisand's first songwriting credit in her entire career. While creating the track, Streisand decided to write from a "sense of resolute rather than desperate emotions". It is followed by a cover of Four Tops' "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)". The original version, set in a gospel rock tempo, was updated into a disco track. Lyrically, the story of a lost love is told, with her neighbors supposedly discussing the matter during "long and sleepless night[s]". 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.
"Letters That Cross in the Mail" was the first song recorded for the album. Streisand claimed that the inspiration behind the track was simple: it is "about love and the postal service". Santopietro wrote that Holmes' love for of "big band sound[s]" and "a full symphonic orchestra" is evident in the production. 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. Taken from his 1972 studio album Talking Book, she called the pop song "immediately [...] touch[ing]" and considered Wonder "brilliant" for his work on it. Written by Howard Dietz and Ralph Rainger, Streisand's cover of Libby Holman's "Moanin' Low" appears as the eighth song. 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". 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". "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". It was also the last of four tracks written by Holmes and has a production consisting of "synthesized electronics".
"My Father's Song" was released as the album's lead single in August 1975. 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". The single enjoyed success on the United States Adult Contemporary chart, where it peaked at numbers 11. It also entered the similar chart in Canada, where it reached number 15. 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. It was distributed in 7" and 12" vinyl formats on November 12, 1975 featuring the B-side and album track "Widescreen". A British version of the single was also created and features the longer cut of the single instead of the album version. 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. 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 Disco Singles chart.
Lazy Afternoon received a positive response from music critics and her fans. Stephen Holden from Rolling Stone applauded Streisand, 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". 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. With a more mixed opinion, AllMusic's William Ruhlmann awarded the album three out of five stars. He liked Streisand's vocals and the "delicately played individual instruments" that focused on them. However, he concluded "for the most part, Lazy Afternoon was true to its title, a collection of relaxed performances that was pleasant without being particularly impressive". British singer Rumer stated in The Quietus that Lazy Afternoon is one of her favorite albums, in addition to calling it "cinematic", "dreamy", and a "gorgeous experience". She recommended it as "the album for people who don't like Barbra Streisand" as it would likely change their minds.
In the United States, Lazy Afternoon debuted at number 107 on the Billboard 200 chart for the week ending November 1, 1975. It continued rising on the charts for several weeks before peaking at number 12 on December 20 of that same year. 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 shipments of 500,000 copies. 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. The following month and year, it would reach its peak position at number 42. It also charted in Australia, where it peaked at number 84 according to the Kent Music Report.
All tracks produced by Jeffrey Lesser and Rupert Holmes.
|Lazy Afternoon – Standard edition|
|2.||"My Father's Song"||Rupert Holmes||3:52|
|3.||"By the Way"||
|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|
|9.||"A Child Is Born"||2:48|
|Lazy Afternoon – 8-track cartridge edition|
|2.||"My Father's Song"||3:52|
|4.||"Shake Me, Wake Me (When It's Over)"||2:53|
|5.||"I Never Had It So Good"||3:35|
|6.||"Letters That Cross in the Mail"||3:36|
|7.||"You and I"||4:16|
|9.||"A Child Is Born"||2:48|
|10.||"By the Way"||2:55|
Credits adapted from the liner notes of the standard edition of Lazy Afternoon.
|Australia Albums (Kent Music Report)||84|
|Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)||42|
|US Billboard 200||12|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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Whatever you are, you're going to be. Whatever you are is all right with me.
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