Exile on Broadway-
7" x 11.5"
Sometimes in seeking
to please everyone, you satisfy no one. Such was the case with the ill-fated
1968 collaboration between The Rolling Stones and Barbara Steisand.
On paper it looked like a stroke of genius: broaden Bab's appeal to
young listeners while casting Jagger and Richards as a sort of modern-day
Rogers and Hart. The idea came to Barbara Steisand's long time A&R
man, Tommy LiPuma who suggested to the singer that she record the Stones
song, As Tears Go By. The grande dame of Broadway was
so taken with the idea that she called for a recording session with
the Stones. Mick Jagger agreed to the sessions thinking that a little
work might give the band some much needed focus as Keith Richards slipped
deeper into heroin addiction.
In a marathon session,
this odd pairing knocked out a sultry version of Play with Fire that
bears an uncanny resemblance to Peggy Lee's Fever. This was followed
by an arch almost screwball comedy interpretation of Mother's Little
Helper. Then Babs pulled out all the stops delivering Broadway bombast
to a reworking of Get Off My Cloud,that would not have been out
of place on the Funny Girl soundtrack. The number even included a delightful
give-and-take duet with Mick each urging the other to get off of his/her
cloud. By the time the band got to the Sintra-like Time is on My
Side, the sexual tension between Jagger and Streisand could no longer
be denied. The two adjorned to a nearby diner during a break in recording
and didn't return until the middle of the next day.
Much to the band's
chagrin, Streisand entered the studio the next day acting the part of
Yoko Ono to Mick Jagger's John Lennon. When she criticized Richard's
guitar work on a jazzy take on Under My Thumb, he retorted, "What
would you do Babs? Seeing as you have all the answers." She draped
an arm over Mick's shoulders and replied, "I'd nix the guitar entirely
and replace it with brass." Richards reportedly shook his head
and glanced over at his old friend and asked, "So, she's calling
the shots now?" Jagger turned his head away. After a tense moment
Streisand spoke. "Mickey and I have been doing some talking and
we've agreed that given your problem with drugs it might be best if
the band takes a break." Ron Wood and Charlie Watts stared at one
another in disbelief. Babs then added, "And besides with his gorgeous
lips and my fabulous nails, we're going to record an album together
and call it The Glamour Twins." At this last remark, Richard's
threw his guitar on the ground and stormed out the sessions going on
a three week alcohol and heroin bender.
When word of the
recordings was leaked to the press, the torrent of derision that rained
down on Streisand and The Rolling Stones was so great that the tapes
were shelved never to see the light of day. Jagger quickly grew tired
of being bossed around by Streisand and when she proposed that he play
the love interest in an early staged version of what years later became
Yentl, he walked out of her apartment and jumped the next flight
to London.To this day the two will not speak to one another.
in the tapes remains intense among fanatics of both Streisand and The
Stones no one aside from the recording engineer, Cliff Gripes-Reeve
and myself have heard them.