Barbra Streisand opens vault for new collection

Singer handpicks 10 previously unreleased studio gems for new collection

Barbra Streisand is set to release Release Me 2, a new collection of ten previously unreleased studio performances on Friday, August 6th via Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings. The first new Barbra Streisand album title since 2018’s Walls, Release Me 2 is the eagerly-awaited second volume of Barbra Streisand rarities, a timely companion to her highly-successful 2012 Columbia/Legacy album Release Me, which entered the Billboard 200 at No. 7, making it her 32nd Top 10 and seventh consecutive Top 10 album at the time.

Release Me 2 will be available as a digital album as well as a CD digipak with a 32-page booklet–featuring liner notes by Streisand and Jay Landers, the album’s executive producers. Several collectible 12″ vinyl editions with art directed by Streisand will be available in a variety of color packages, color vinyl pressings, and a special picture disc.

Giving fans their first taste of Release Me 2, “I’d Want It To Be You” — Streisand’s irresistible duet with Willie Nelson -– was just released to all digital outlets. A track originally intended for Partners, her 2014 album of duets with superstar male singers, this Barbra Streisand/Willie Nelson vocal collaboration was still a work-in-progress as Partners‘ release date approached. Produced by Walter Afanasieff & Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, “I’d Want It To Be You” was recorded in 2014 and 2020.

Release Me 2 showcases exquisite songs and sublime studio performances recorded over the course of Streisand’s astounding career, but shelved for various reasons. In her notes for the album, Streisand says, “For me, the studio is a combination musical playground and laboratory…a private sanctuary, where the possibility of catching lightning in a bottle always exists. Whenever that kind of magic happens, it’s extremely satisfying. Sometimes though, when the arrangement doesn’t quite gel or the song no longer fits the tone of the album it was meant for, the tapes go into the vault for safekeeping. Working on this 2nd volume of Release Me has been a lovely walk down memory lane…a chance to revisit, and in some cases, add a finishing instrumental touch to songs that still resonate for me in meaningful ways. I’m particularly struck by the ongoing relevance of ‘Be Aware’ and ‘One Day,’ which still speak to our collective sense of humanity.”

Throughout her career, Streisand’s passionate social activism has been a driving force in her art and life. Her performances of “Be Aware” and “One Day (A Prayer)” connect to the core of the human condition. Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David as response to the plight of world hunger and homeless children, “Be Aware” was recorded in the studio to establish an arrangement for Streisand’s appearance on the 1971 television special, Singer Presents Burt Bacharach. Produced by Burt Bacharach & Barbra Streisand, “Be Aware” was recorded in 1971 and 2020.

Featuring a melody by Michel Legrand and lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, “One Day (A Prayer)” is an evocatively hopeful message of peace. Streisand recorded the song on three separate occasions in 1968-69, each with a different arranger. All three versions were archived in the vault until 1990 when a rough mix of the Don Costa arrangement was broadcast on The Earth Day Special (ABC), featuring a video of Streisand performing the song. Release Me 2 presents the Don Costa arrangement of this glorious anthem with the finished mix it’s always deserved. Produced by Barbra Streisand & Wally Gold, “One Day (A Prayer)” was recorded in 1968.

Release Me 2 features songs penned by celebrated writers and tunesmiths including Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Barry Gibb, Randy Newman, Michel Legrand/Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman, Harold Arlen and “Yip” Harburg, Carole King, Steve Dorff, Paul Williams/Kenny Ascher, and Walter Afanasieff/John Bettis.

In addition to her duet with Willie Nelson, Release Me 2 features Streisand singing with Muppet superstar Kermit the Frog on the classic composition “Rainbow Connection” (originally intended for her Wet album in 1979) and a musical collaboration with Barry Gibb on “If Only You Were Mine,” written by Barry Gibb/Ashley Gibb/Stephen Gibb as a potential bonus track for 2005’s Guilty Pleasures. Produced by Barbra Streisand & Jochem van der Saag, “Rainbow Connection” was recorded in 1979 and 2020. “If Only You Were Mine” was produced by Barry Gibb and John Merchant in 2005.

Other highlights on the project include her interpretation of Carole King’s “You Light Up My Life,” a song from King’s 1973 Fantasy album which Streisand recorded for potential inclusion on her 1974 Butterfly collection. Produced by Streisand, with additional production and mix by Jochem van der Saag, “You Light Up My Life” was recorded in 1974 and 2020.

Release Me 2 includes a spellbinding studio performance of the Walter Afanasieff/John Bettis composition, “Sweet Forgiveness,” a soaring emotional ballad produced by Walter Afanasieff and Streisand, recorded in 1994.

Streisand’s heartrending interpretation of Randy Newman’s “Living Without You” was one of four Newman compositions originally recorded in 1971 for her Stoney End album. Fine-tuned and polished for Release Me 2, “Living Without You” was produced and arranged by Walter Afanasieff & Barbra Streisand and recorded in 1971 and 2020; the original vocal was produced by Richard Perry.

The earliest studio recording on Release Me 2 is her incandescent performance of “Right As The Rain,” an elegant ballad penned by Harold Arlen and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (“Over The Rainbow”) for the 1944 Broadway musical, Bloomer Girl. This is one of four songs the jazz singer recorded in 1962, prior to cutting her debut album the following year. Though she re-recorded the song for The Second Barbra Streisand Album in 1963, this essential early studio performance captures the sound and spirit of a young emerging superstar talent. Produced by Mike Berniker, “Right As The Rain” was recorded in 1962.

Release Me 2 closes with “Once You’ve Been In Love,” a Michel Legrand/Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman composition transformed into a stunning once-in-a-lifetime tour de force, a single-take live-in-the-studio performance with Streisand singing directly in front of the orchestra without the benefit of an isolated vocal booth. The effect is remarkable, with Streisand’s voice, the orchestration, the lyrics and the music blending together in a cascading unified complex of sound and emotion.Produced by Streisand, arranged & conducted by Michel Legrand, mixed by John Arias, “Once You’ve Been In Love” was recorded in 1973.

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Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com
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