LORI LIEBERMAN – Becoming – (Capitol) – 1973

Lori Lieberman - Becoming

I had not heard of Lori Lieberman before I googled her but she had a profile and has one again …

wikipedia: "Lori Lieberman (born November 15, 1951) is an American singer-songwriter who accompanies herself on guitar and piano. She first came to public attention in the early 1970s with a series of albums on Capitol Records, one of which featured the first recording of "Killing Me Softly With His Song". After a long hiatus, she resumed her recording career in the mid-1990s … Of Jewish background, Lieberman, the middle sibling of three sisters, spent her childhood and adolescence travelling between California and Switzerland consequent to her father's career in chemical engineering. Though she has acknowledged the positive aspects of having an international upbringing, it is the drawbacks – a sense of alienation and not fitting in – that subsequently became a recurring motif on her albums, first apparent in "House Full of Women" (from Becoming) and "Straw Colored Girl" (from Straw Colored Girl) and most recently on the title track of her eleventh album, Bend Like Steel … Lieberman began singing and composing at a young age, simultaneously acquiring a taste for French singers and songwriters as well as American rock and pop music. The latter passion was fed by an older sister who would return from trips to the U.S. with albums by Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Leonard Cohen and Jefferson Airplane … Shortly after she returned to America to study in her late teens, Lieberman was signed to a production, recording and publishing deal struck between Capitol Records and songwriters Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel".

She released her first album in 1972. "Becoming" was her second release. She went on to release another three albums (and a Greatest Hits – without having a hit, aaahhh only the major labels would do that) before retiring from recording in 1978. She then sang on an animated cartoon series and wrote and recorded songs for the TV series "Fame" in the early 1980s.

She subsequently returned to music and has released eight albums since 1995.

Not bad, but her great claim to fame is she was the first to record "Killing Me Softly with His Song", on her first album, which was written by Gimbel & Fox. The song of course went to #1 with Roberta Flack in 1973 and then again to #1 with The Fugees in 1996. There was some minor controversy in where did the inspiration for the song come from. Lieberman said it comes from a poem she wrote after she saw Don McLean perform "Empty Chairs" live and that seems to have been the case.

Lieberman was a songwriter and, clearly, wanted to be in the singer songwriter mould. Gimbel (born 1927) & Fox (born 1940) were songwriters and had been around for years. Both, originally from New York had hooked up on the west coast and had been doing music in film and television.

I suspect they could read the market and saw there was money to be made from the new, young breed of singer-songwriters who were well represented by young females. 

The album "Blue" Joni Mitchell had gone to #15 in the US, "Tapestry" for Carole King had gone to #1, and Judy Collins, Laura Nyro, Janis Ian, Jackie DeShannon, Linda Ronstadt, and Melanie had all had hits or near misses in the genre.

The trouble was Gimbel and Fox were neither young nor female.

In comes Lori.

Despite her songwriting ability Lori only managed to squeeze out the occasional song as Gimbel and Fox ran the show … writing, producing (and playing) on her first four albums.

There is nothing wrong with this depending on the arrangement and it was probably their contacts that got an unrecorded and untested 21 year old a contract with Capitol records.

They were benevolent svengalis. The music industry is full of them, amongst the autocratic dictators.

I've also read that Norman Gimbel was dating Lori (24 years his junior) at the time.

Well, that's svengali-like as well, if that is correct.

Without sales, and jaded perhaps, it is easy to see why Lori left the music industry the first time around.

But here, on "Becoming" we have a 22 year old in beautiful voice. Okay she didn't write the words but Gimbel and Fox writing for her must have drawn inspiration from her, and wrote songs to suit her and her temperament (and used any ideas she may have thrown up and clearly she has contributed). This would be second nature to guys who wrote for film and television … where a theme song, or jingle had to reflect the character or personality in the show. It's not a puppet / puppet master situation because one could not exist without the other, so close is the nexus between writer and performer.

The beauty of this is, like any group, the specific parts can concentrate on what they do best, and even though Lori has proven, subsequently, that she can write a song, her voice and emotive communicative skills are what is central.

The only problem is that there is, clearly, an attempt to tap into a market and Lori, accordingly, doesn't always sounds all that distinctive from others females in the same genre.

All songs by Gimbel (lyrics) and Fox (music).

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • I Go Along – not the strongest song to lead off.
  • Becoming – one of those "I'm woman, I have been put down, but I'm becoming stronger". A pretty good one at that even if it was written by blokes. Actually it's very good.
  • A House Full Of Women – a interesting song with a couple of tempo changes and mood changes. Both funky and singer-songwriter with some sharp lyrics about the men that hang off "a house full of women".
  • It Didn’t Come Easy – Shades of "Killing Me Softly" but not as distinctive.
  • No Way Of Knowing – well …so so.

      Side Two

  • Someone Come And Take It – the first really bouncy tune but it's only so so.
  • Sweet Morning After – hmmmm, maybe Loris should have been allowed to include some of her own songs.
  • Eleazar – the religious epic …popular in the wake of "Jesus Christ Superstar". Not too bad.
  • The Seed First – some precious lyrics.
  • Song Of The Seventies – this is a nice jaunty piece done in the style of early 70s Jackie DeShannon. The lyrics are a bit obscure but the song isn't too bad.

And …

This chick is a real find but on this album, at least, everything's a little too calculated. Still, there are some great moments. Record a few and sell.

Chart Action

US

Singles

Album

1973 #182

England

nothing

Sounds

Becoming

mp3 attached

A House Full Of Women

https://soundcloud.com/lori-lieberman/03-a-house-full-of-women

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTyGLBANuOg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QtbwvEzz18

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW8GLlTED8I

https://vimeo.com/69437801

Review

Bio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lori_Lieberman

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/lori-lieberman-mn0000829890

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Fox_(composer)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Gimbel

Website

http://www.lorilieberman.com/wordpress/

Trivia

  • "Born in Los Angeles and raised in Switzerland, Lieberman says her father was a chemical engineer and her mother was a homemaker. She notes that her father, Kenneth Lieberman, invented “cottage cheese ceilings” (“the kind everyone hates now and wants to remove,” she jokes and relocated the family in Switzerland to take his business to an international level". http://www.princetoninfo.com/index.php/component/us1more/?key=09-22-2010Lieberman
  • Personnel: Lori Lieberman – vocals, acoustic guitar / John Guerin – drums /  Dean Parks – guitar /  Charles Fox – piano, keyboards, producer /  Larry Carlton, Dennis Budimir, Ben Benay – guitar /  Tom Scott, Bud Shank – saxophone /  Max Bennett – bass /  John Boyd – vocals /  John Wilson – drums

About Franko

Hi, I'm just a person with a love of music, a lot of records and some spare time. My opinions are comments not reviews and are mine so don't be offended if I have slighted your favourite artist. I have listened to a lot of music and I don't pretend to be impartial. You can contact me on franklycollectible@gmail.com though I would rather you left a comment. I also sell music at http://www.franklycollectible.com Cheers
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