Sugar Me (Japanese issue: Vivid M131538, originally released 1993)
Front Back

1. Anytime of the Year (N. Hirsch/E. Manor)
2. Guess Who I Saw in Paris (B. Sainte-Marie)
3. You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry (B. Merrill/T. Shand)
4. With Wings (??)
5. All Alone Am I (M. Hadjidakis/A. Altman)
6. Who Broke Your Heart (M. Chain)
7. Goodbye Jimmy Goodbye (J. Vaughn)
8. Every Beat of My Heart (J. Otis)
9. Sugar Me (L. De Paul/B. Green)
10. You Set My Dreams to Music (H.S. Dorff/M.A. Leikin)
11. I Cannot Love You (P. Yarrow)
12. As If You Walked Away (D. Pomeranz)

This compilation was reissued in 1999, with a different track order:
1. Sugar Me 2. Who Broke Your Heart 3. With Wings 4. All Alone Am I 5. I Cannot Love You 6. Goodbye Jimmy Goodbye 7. Anytime of the Year 8. You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry 9. Every Beat of My Heart 10. As If You Walked Away 11. Guess Who I Saw in Paris 12. You Set My Dreams to Music

Analysis

Initially, Sugar Me was a proposed third album on Barnaby. For poorly documented reasons, the record was finished but eventually shelved. Barnaby switched distributors again in 1974, and perhaps this was a factor. The Longet/Williams divorce in 1975 couldn't have helped. The Spider Sabich scandal was probably the last straw, but I suspect the album's fate was already uncertain by then.

The original track listing differs from the above compilation, and includes (in order) "Anytime of the Year," "Guess Who I Saw in Paris," "All Alone Am I," "Rising Sun," "Don't Shut Me Out," "Sugar Me," "Dream Baby," "The Angel in Your Eyes," "Every Beat of My Heart," "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry," "Life Is Full of Surprises" and "Who Broke Your Heart." The italicized tracks were never released, and the album notes imply that the master tapes are lost.

Against all odds, some of the discarded sessions resurfaced in 1993. Barnaby had been defunct since the late '70s, but Japan-based Century Records finally stepped in and licensed the forgotten material. To cover for the missing songs, the revamped package collected the sides of three non-LP singles, plus six previously unreleased rarities. Note that a few of the latter tunes have obvious vocal glitches, which might have been fixed with another take or two.

Sugar Me has a more conservative sound than Let's Spend the Night Together, and several tracks curdle with stereotyped easy-listening arrangements. This is particularly true of "Who Broke Your Heart" (an unsuccessful 1974 single, sometimes known as "Who Broke Your Heart and Made You Write This Song"). Wails of slide guitar recalls the song's original country roots, but the generic bed of strings and backing voices is uncomfortably stuffy. The revised doo-wop of "Every Beat of My Heart" is similarly handicapped, and furthermore adds a corny dose of saxophone. An unusually full-bodied vocal from Longet almost saves the day, but not quite. The bottom is reached with "Goodbye Jimmy Goodbye," a pedestrian, countrypolitan waltz with a trite key change. Equally bad is "With Wings," an overlong, lumbering dirge which rambles on and on without ever finding a memorable groove, and is then halted before further damage can be done.

"I Cannot Love You" (written by Peter Yarrow) is much stronger, and has a power-ballad chorus resembling Nilsson's cover of "Without You." The delicate "You Set My Dreams to Music" is equally pretty, with an amusing intrusion of crickets in its coda. Interestingly, that song's co-writer is a young Steven Dorff, who later found major success scoring television shows like "Growing Pains," "Murphy Brown" and "Murder, She Wrote." The best of the more traditional tracks is "As If I Walked Away," a David Pomeranz song with some beautiful melodic turns. Warm lines of oboe breathe extra atmosphere into the mix.

The album brightens considerably with its more youthful tunes. The earliest tracks are probably "Guess Who I Saw in Paris" and "Anytime of the Year," which were on a 1971 single. The former is a Buffy Sainte-Marie composition, and sounds like a return to Longet's kitschy A&M period. A three-way dialogue between Bacharach-style trumpets, lonely accordion and vocal la-la's provides the main hook (this is one track where using session singers worked), while Longet poses rhetorical questions about a past rendezvous. The emotions feel deep and real, even if they're undercut with a dated line about getting "spaced." The song fades with some breathy thoughts in French. On the other hand, "Anytime of the Year" is one of the strangest tunes in Longet's catalog. Sort of an ethnic cousin to "Electric Moon," this rollicking jaunt alternates her dainty English verses with a Yiddish ensemble's spliced-in choruses. As if that's not weird enough, the epilogue requires her to preach. Can you imagine a French waif solemnly intoning, "There will come a time when the prophets' words come true/When Jerusalem, above all, guides our life"? Didn't think so.

The flirty title cut was once paired with "Every Beat of My Heart" on a 1973 single. Originally a hit for singer Lynsey de Paul, this one is driven by pounding piano chords and a notably acidic guitar line. The bouncy, McCartney-esque beat is hard to resist, even if the lyric is pure bubblegum. "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry" is another fun tune, lifted by a jingle-jangle arrangement with hints of Christmas. Not many people could keep a straight face through a sappy line like "When you leave me, my golden rainbow disappears," but Longet pulls it off. The song also has nice double-tracked harmonies, and a darling giggle at the end. Finally, there's the languid shuffle of "All Alone Am I." A smash for Brenda Lee, it was initially written in Greek by Manos Hadjidakis (more famous for the Oscar-winning "Never on Sunday"). The translation has an exquisite melody, plus the delightful quirk of an alien, two-line solo on something which sounds like a toy harpsichord. Meanwhile, a false ending is adorably botched, as Longet whines some insecurities to the producer before being abruptly cut off. "But it's so uncomfortable to me," she sighs. Maybe that summed up her attitude toward fame, as well.

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