of the Month' is written by Steven Housman, exclusively for BarbraNews.com.
He interviewed Barbra Streisand in 2003.
Steven Housman is a longtime freelance music journalist based in Los Angeles
and the Miami area. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the music charts for
the past three decades. He is a contributing editor for Genre magazine. His
column “Stevie’s Spin Cycle” is syndicated in newspapers and magazines
internationally. In addition, Steven has written for The Advocate and for
Billboard magazine. He has created a new music trivia game due in retail
stores for 2005.
Visit his website: www.stevenhousman.com
Click here for
September's album of the month... Guilty Pleasures
ALBUM OF THE
MONTH - August 2005
By Steven M. Housman
BARBRA STREISAND: SIMPLY STREISAND
RELEASED: OCTOBER 24, 1967
PRODUCED BY JACK GOLD AND HOWARD A. ROBERTS
ARRANGED BY RAY ELLIS
CONDUCTED BY DAVID SHIRE
always think of “Simply Streisand” as the perfect album to play at cocktail
parties. It’s Barbra at her most sublime. Barbra Streisand’s ninth solo
album was appropriately titled “Simply Streisand” because the song
selections, arrangements and Streisand’s vocals were all conducted with such
magnificent ease. After one powerhouse show-stopper after another, this was
Barbra’s first album of consistent tranquility since the atypical outing of
“The Third Album” in 1964. It’s my opinion that Streisand achieved greater
success with this album. Her vocals had matured and she sounded as if she
actually had been living out the scenarios on this meticulous choice of
material -- more so than that of the 21 year-old on her earlier outing.
After all, she was all of twenty-five by the time she recorded this album
AND had become a Tony-nominated, Grammy and Emmy-winning television star
with Oscar just on the horizon. Perhaps the fact the she was in the midst of
filming “Funny Girl” had something to do with her confident performance. She
was finally conquering the one medium she had dreamt of since she was a
child -- and that was becoming a film star. Like most of Streisand’s 60’s
albums, “Simply Streisand” was predominately music culled from Broadway.
The album opens up with the wonderful Rodgers and Hart staple “My Funny
Valentine” with an introduction that was sung seemingly stoic. Streisand
then glides her vocals into the main frame of the song and acts out each
lyric, unlike any other singer had ever attempted this classic. She wears
her heart on her sleeve and her emotionally raw rendition comes to a
stunning climax. As usual, Streisand takes a well-worn song covered by
hundreds of singers past and present and puts her indelible stamp on it.
I would like to emphasize the strengths on this album, but I can’t. The
reason being is because the entire disc is one big highlight. It’s difficult
to argue with the great American songbook with inclusions such as “When
Sunny Gets Blue,” sung in a hazy wisp that draws you straight into the heart
of the matter, Frank Loesser’s “I’ll Know” from “Guys and Dolls” sung with
such optimism, her eagerness shines through like a white hot spotlight in
the black of night. The brilliant take on the Hoagy Carmichael’s gorgeous
sonata “The Nearness of You” ranks as one of Streisand’s best in her vast
discography. “Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?),” “Make The Man Love Me,”
“All The Things You Are,” “The Boy Next Door,” the stunning reading of “More
Than You Know” and the Mae West-influenced “Stout-Hearted Men” round out
this gorgeous ten song set and sets the bar so high, no other female singer
can possibly reach it.
When listening to Streisand’s vocals and interpretations, it’s practically
impossible to decipher which decade she records her songs. The music and her
voice are truly timeless. Nine years later, she sang of love that was
“ageless and evergreen.” Those are the terms I would use for this utterly
superb and transcendent album. It’s “Simply” that spectacular.
© 2005 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.
OF THE MONTH -
By Steven M. Housman exclusively for BarbraNews.com
BARBRA STREISAND: WET
RELEASED OCTOBER 16, 1979
PRODUCED BY GARY KLEIN EXCEPT “NO MORE TEARS (ENOUGH IS ENOUGH)” PRODUCED BY
GARY KLEIN IN ASSOCIATION WITH GIORGIO MORODER PRODUCTIONS
From the opening lyrics of the album’s title cut, Barbra sings “Wet is rain,
rain is clean and new” to the closing lyrics of the closing track “Kiss Me
In The Rain,” Barbra sings “I don’t even mind if I get wet,” and all of the
songs in between, Barbra clearly has her first aquatic-themed album. Is this
an unusual theme? Yes. Most artists have themed albums such as songbooks
made famous by other artists, or a mix of ethnic material that other singers
have made so popular in the past, but not our Barbra. Barbra stands alone.
Her unique voice has found a unique theme and the results are saturated with
her glorious voice.
When this album arrived in the fall of 1979, Barbra already had so many fine
accomplishments; it’s no wonder that her vocal was so confident. She was
still riding high on the success of her newly found home, radio, and her
singles, which hardly moved in the previous decade, were now flying off the
shelves and becoming favorites of a new audience – teenagers! From the time
she delivered her first album 16 years prior, she was THE premier female
is an interesting mix of songs that range from lush ballads, such as the
aforementioned title cut which Streisand co-wrote, to pop to rock and disco.
This album covered each musical genre flawlessly. Not just because of
Streisand’s impeccable voice, but because the song choices and arrangements
Following “Wet,” Barbra took on the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer standard
“Come Rain Or Come Shine” with a jazz-oriented arrangement and an electric
guitar, and brought the gorgeous ballad that was written decades before and
gave it a sound that was “clean and new.” The arrangement and vocal is one
of the best versions of this song I have ever heard. It is still my favorite,
and this song has been covered by the best. Judy, Frank and Ella’s are the
Other lush ballads include “On Rainy Afternoons” and “After The Rain” both
written by the ever-present Bergmans, with Lalo Schifrin and Michel Legrand
composing the music on each of the songs, respectively. The placing of the
two songs back-to-back is also a stroke of genius, the two songs act as
companion pieces to close out side 1 of the album. The piano on “On Rainy
Afternoons” is reminiscent of the piano solo of “Nadia’s Theme” that was
written a few years before and adds the delicate quality to Barbra’s
My favorite ballad on the album, hands-down, is the Marvin Hamlisch, Carol
Bayer-Sager, Bruce Roberts collaboration of “Niagara.” This song has
Streisand in her most dramatic, yearning for a love that is faltering all
too fast. Streisand sings of her disdain of the present and longs for the
time the couple was care-free and beautiful and “crazy” living out their
fantasies on a vacation in Niagara Falls. She longs to be “crazy” again. The
sax solo by veteran Tom Scott is magic and adds fire and emotion to
compliment Streisand’s outstanding vocal.
For a nice balance to the ballads, the Bobby Darin pop rocker “Splish
Splash” was added to the roster with additional lyrics by Streisand herself.
The song and its choice was the only song on the album that the critics
found flaws with. But then again, they have always found flaws when Barbra
attempted anything rock-oriented. I have to disagree with the critics on
this. The arrangement of this song by David Foster was meant to be delivered
as a party song, serving up nothing but fun, and fun is what we got. Tom
Scott and his sax are key to giving this song that extra oomph. How many
rock songs can you name where you can understand all of the lyrics? Even
Streisand’s delivery is perfection. Some say she went overboard with a
minute or so of uncontrollable laughter that close out the song. I say she
added the spirit in which the song was intended. “It’s gettin’ hot.” Party
big single release of the album was the highly-touted duet with none other
than the queen of disco herself, Donna Summer. Barbra had to actually be
talked into including this jewel on the album because it originally didn’t
contain lyrics that included water. The original title of this song by Paul
(Last Dance, The Main Event) Jabara and Bruce Roberts was “Enough Is
Enough.” The trio went back and within days returned with a gorgeous opening
ballad that contained the lyrics “It’s raining, it’s pouring” and throughout
the most demanding disco beat, Streisand sang, and adapted “No More Tears”
as the dueling divas belted their lousy lovers out the door and declared
their state of independence. Thus, the name of the song was renamed “No More
Tears (Enough Is Enough)” and was MORE than good enough to be included on
the album. It was so good, the 8 minute plus version, and not the edit, was
included on the album. When the album was first delivered to retail, it
included a sticker of the famous Francesco Scavullo photo of Barbra and
Donna “Featuring the hit single” slapped right on the cover. No doubt,
Barbra had a successful foray into disco (“The Main Event/Fight”) just a few
months prior, but this duet just exploded and went to Number 1 within weeks
of its release. It was also the first “12” club single to reach platinum
status. Streisand, being a woman of “firsts” added this to her long list.
The album’s two closing numbers are a fluffy disco-tinged number “I Ain’t
Gonna Cry Tonight” and the second single to be released, the ballad “Kiss Me
In The Rain.” While I found the lyrics to be sentimental and sometimes a bit
silly on “Kiss Me In The Rain,” Streisand’s refined opening to her
powerhouse vocal and back to graceful closing made the song work. How many
times have you heard people say, she could sing the phonebook and make it
important? That was my feeling, more or less, with the final track.
All in all, “Wet” is one of the finest pop albums in Barbra Streisand’s
catalogue. The orchestrations are lush, the songs are fun, and the vocal is
superb. Were you expecting anything less from the world’s greatest pop
singer? “Wet” still stands as one of my all-time favorite Streisand
recordings. This is an album for all kinds of weather, “Rain or Shine…”
© 2005 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.
ALBUM OF THE
MONTH - JUNE
By Steven M. Housman exclusively for BarbraNews.com
BARBRA STREISAND: STREISAND SUPERMAN
(RELEASED JUNE 14, 1977, COLUMBIA RECORDS)
PRODUCED BY GARY KLEIN EXCEPT “MY HEART BELONGS TO ME” PRODUCED BY GARY
KLEIN AND CHARLIE CALELLO
By the time Streisand Superman was released on June 14, 1977, Streisand was
arguably the most powerful woman in show business. Six months prior, she had
released A Star Is Born, which was her greatest box office film success to
date. The accompanying soundtrack was Number 1 for six weeks, (the longest
running Number 1 album of her career) which included her co-penned opus
“Evergreen,” which also earned her an Academy Award for Best Song after
spending three weeks at the pole position on the Billboard Hot 100.
By 1977, Streisand was still delivering an album a year, but the fact that
she delivered Superman just six months following A Star Is Born was
extremely unusual, especially since the soundtrack was still riding high on
the charts. The pop success of Streisand was now in full gear, and the songs
on Superman were further proof that Barbra, a singer who barely scratched
the pop singles chart a decade earlier, was now encroaching into new
territory, and radio was finally embracing her. The press dubbed the
six-month releases of A Star Is Born and Superman as “Streisand’s one-two
There weren’t many female singers (if any) that could release an album that
carried a title such as “Superman” - and yet it seemed appropriate.
Streisand was known for her chutzpah, and her pose on the album cover
wearing a skimpy pair of white short-shorts with a tight white t-shirt
emblazoned with the Superman logo seemed absolutely fitting. The title and
the photo suggested that the queen of entertainment also had balls. And as
successful as her career had been prior to ’77, she seemed to have reached
an even higher peak. It was fascinating to her fans and infuriating to her
Now that I’ve exhausted the packaging and multiple interior Steve Schapiro
photos of the empowered Streisand, let’s get to the music.
Streisand had finally delivered an entire pop album that was consistent and
one that absolutely suited her. The songs ranged from pop ballads such as
the hit single, “My Heart Belongs To Me” which reached Number 4 on the
Billboard Hot 100, to gorgeous sonatas including “Love Comes From the Most
Unexpected Places,” which was co-written by the prolific Kim Carnes, to rock
From the opening title track, Streisand’s vocals soared so effortlessly
above the clouds, that when she sang the lyric “I’m Superman” with such
conviction, you believed she WAS Superman!
The entire album is so much fun; it’s like cotton candy at a summer
carnival. The only exception would be “Don’t Believe What You Read.” Even
though the track was co-written by Streisand and the lyrics were terrific,
elucidating the details of her life in the tabloids, the steely rock guitar
chords absolutely lacked a hook while repeating a monotonous rhythm. On the
other hand, one other song that was co-written by the songbird was the
gorgeous ballad “Answer Me,” which was originally written for A Star Is
Born. Although, it didn’t make the final cut to the film and soundtrack, it
luckily ended up on this album.
Upbeat rhythms such as “I Found You Love” and “Cabin Fever” captured
Streisand’s playful side, and since she succeeded so well in this genre on
“A Star Is Born” (despite what many critics said) it was a given that she
continued to show off her versatility as a first rate vocalist that could
capture just about every style of music.
Speaking of versatility, she even sang a brilliant cover of the Roger (“King
of the Road”) Miller country-tinged ditty, “Baby Me Baby.” Two very bright
highlights were the albums final two tracks, Billy Joel’s luminous “New York
State of Mind” and Rupert Holmes’ divine ode to independence “Lullaby For
Myself.” Billy Joel was said to be “over the moon” with Streisand’s dazzling
rendition of “New York State of Mind” that he later commented, “My mother
now knew I had made it because Barbra Streisand had recorded one of my
songs.” Barbra Streisand had made it alright. She had conquered just about
every medium of entertainment; it was just a matter of time that she
dominated the world of pop music. If I had to choose one word to describe
Streisand Superman, it would be “confident.” This is truly one of the best
pop albums of Streisand’s discography.
Fact: Streisand Superman remained on the Billboard 200 just over six months
and was promptly certified platinum. It ultimately reached double platinum
© 2005 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.
ALBUM OF THE MONTH-MAY 2005
By Steven M. Housman - Exclusively for BarbraNews.com
To the readers: Thank you for pointing
out the three errors, here is the review revised. That’s what I get for
writing from memory! Keep those emails coming! They're all appreciated -
Especially the friendly emails!-All my best, Steven
BARBRA STREISAND: THE BROADWAY ALBUM
5, 1985, COLUMBIA RECORDS)
PRODUCED BY PETER MATZ, RICHARD BASKIN, BOB ESTY, PAUL JABARA, DAVID FOSTER,
By 1985, Barbra Streisand had conquered just about
every medium in the entertainment business. At the age of 18, she stepped
onto a stage in the Greenwich Village section of New York to enter a singing
contest, which she easily won. What she won was an engagement at the
nightclub and a buzz that circulated around New York that even the best
publicity couldn’t buy. This led to more prestigious Manhattan club
engagements. All the Broadway big shots came to see what all the fuss was
about. Before she knew it, she had her first role on Broadway at 19
years-old when she was signed for her first musical, “I Can Get It For You
Wholesale” in a small but important role as the quirky Yetta Tessye
Marmelstein. Why was it so important? Her voice was so unique that the song
“Miss Marmelstein” was written exclusively for her, and in the midst of this
mediocre musical, she stopped the show each night with her natural musical
comedy skills. Barbra’s voice caught the attention of many record labels,
but the most esteemed label, Columbia, is what she was after, and Columbia
is what she got. She was signed in late 1962, and began her career with a
best-selling album that consisted of mostly Broadway material, some of it
well-known, some obscure, a couple of comedic offbeat ditties, and a couple
of sultry torch songs. Barbra won two Grammy Awards for “The Barbra
Streisand Album,” one for Best Female Artist and the other for Album of the
Year. The album reached gold status and remained on the chart for just under
two years. A starring role in the Broadway musical “Funny Girl” catapulted
her to fame at the age of 22, more nominations and awards. Television
specials followed, more awards including a couple of Emmy’s and a Peabody.
Hollywood was Barbra’s goal, and by 1967, Hollywood is what she got. The
film version of “Funny Girl” was to be her debut - and what a debut it was.
It won her a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actress of 1968.
When 1970 rolled around, Barbra was presented with a Tony Award for “Star of
the Decade.” By the age of 28, Barbra had achieved every major award there
was to bestow a recording star and actress. But where was there to go now?
In Barbra’s world, the only direction she had tad taken was up, so why stop
now? There were more roles to tackle, more music to record, and more hats to
be worn. But that’s a whole other story. Considering this column is titled
“Album of the Month,” I’ll stick to the music.
In the 1960’s, Barbra recorded music that her fans had
come to love, heavy on the ballads, an up-tempo song or two made an
appearance on each album, and of course, Broadway. By the 70’s, Barbra began
to experiment with more contemporary music of the day. In the fall of 1970,
Barbra released the Laura Nyro-penned “Stoney End” and it began a whole new
chapter in her discography. The single was such a smash; an entire album was
in order. By February 1971, the album “Stoney End” was released to rave
reviews, hit the Top 10 and was certified platinum. Throughout the 70’s and
early 80’s, Barbra recorded everything from rock to country to classical to
disco. Everything she did turned to gold and platinum. Although she did have
her detractors from the early days, most people embraced the woman with the
platinum pipes. Her popularity just kept rising.
By 1984, after tackling just about every genre of
music, Barbra was itching to get back to her roots. In other words,
Broadway. The record company squawked. Barbra was a one-woman hit machine
and squeamish record company executives protested her decision. After 23
years with Columbia, Barbra was baffled that she had to actually fight the
record company to have an album of Broadway material made. After all, this
was the material that put her on the map, but times had changed, and
Columbia’s vision and execs did, too. When push came to shove, Columbia
reluctantly gave Barbra her way, and the result was a Number One album that
has been since certified quadruple platinum, Grammy nominations and wins,
and the best received album Barbra had recorded since the 1960’s. As usual,
Barbra was right. The result was “The Broadway Album,” and it was a smash.
Barbra’s battle to have this album recorded was best
executed in the opening track, the Stephen Sondheim track “Putting It
Together” from “Sunday In The Park With George.” Although the original
lyrics depicted a different type of artist, at the request of Streisand,
Sondheim masterfully reworked the words to mirror the modern day recording
artist and her battle with modern day record executives to make her point.
At the beginning of the song and throughout, you hear Barbra recreating
discussions and venting her frustrations with record executives. The voices
of the record execs were played by her friends, Ken Sylk, director Sydney
Pollack and record executive David Geffen. A perfect blend of fantasy
created the reality. The song, the lyrics, and the vocal execution of this
song worked beautifully, and this is where the journey of “The Broadway
Although, seven of the twelve tracks were Sondheim’s,
the second track “If I Loved You” from “Carousel” brought back the “old
Barbra, “ the girl that gave a torch song a whole new meaning - as well as
opening the floodgates to her newer fans. The song was, and is, one of the
best she has recorded in her 43 year history. The vulnerable quiet girl
building her story to an emotional climax is what made Streisand a recording
star to begin with. Barbra doesn’t just sing the lyrics, she lives the
lyrics, and squeezes every ounce of emotion from the haunting and gorgeous
On a contemporary version of “Something’s Coming” from
“West Side Story,” Barbra induced even more excitement and enthusiasm into
an already exciting and enthusiastic song. Is that possible? If you’re
Barbra Streisand, it is. If it weren’t for “Putting It Together,” this song
would’ve worked perfectly as the opening track. Just to prove that theory,
Barbra later used the song as her opening number in her farewell “Timeless”
concerts in 2000.
Barbra’s love for Sondheim continued on tracks four and
five, “Not While I’m Around” from “Sweeney Todd” and “Being Alive” from
“Company,” respectively. “Around” is a gorgeous ballad that seems
tailor-made for Streisand (but then again, what Broadway song doesn’t?).
Nine years later, she dedicated the song to her son Jason on stage in “The
Concert” in 1994. “Being Alive” is one of the most exuberant and exciting
numbers on the album. Barbra radiates every bit of enthusiasm for life
itself with one of the most dynamic performances of her career. If you like
this song in its original form, wait until you hear Streisand’s version. She
knocks you off your feet and gives you goosebumps as if you’re hearing it
for the first time. To this day, this is one song I’ve always wanted to hear
Barbra perform live in its entirety. She performed it as part of a medley
with “Something Wonderful” (and it was) in her ‘Timeless’ farewell concert.
In the days of vinyl, the next track, which is a medley
of three songs “I Have Dreamed/We Kiss In A Shadow/Something Wonderful” from
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” are gorgeously arranged by the
late Paul Jabara (“Last Dance,” “The Main Event,” “No More Tears”) and Bob
Esty, closed Side One of the album. Jabara had originally set the
introduction of the song to one of the scores other highlights “Shall We
Dance.” It was set to a disco beat and was an exciting departure from
anything else on the album, as Streisand’s vocals effortlessly worked its
way up and down and around the scale. As much as I love the arrangement,
Streisand was precise when she decided to scratch the dance intro. In repeat
listening to the original three and a half minute intro, it now sounds
dated. Broadway material never goes out of style, but the style of 120 BPM
have. Once again, Barbra’s instinctive ear made the right decision. The
final results are gorgeous, ethereal and superbly molded into one song. If
one isn’t familiar with the original songs and arrangements, it’s almost
impossible to tell where one song ends and the others pick up. That’s due to
Streisand’s unique vocal ability to sew lyrics together like a beautiful
quilt. There isn’t a stitch out of place.
A bonus at the time of the release of “The Broadway
Album” was an extra track exclusively for the CD release. Since CD’s were
new at the time, record companies were using gimmicks to lure people into
buying CD’s. It worked. The bonus track was the comic number “Adelaide’s
Lament” lifted from the Frank Loesser score of “Guys and Dolls.” Here we
have the funny girl back in fine form, a trait she had rarely utilized since
her early days on stage and her first three musical films.
Side Two, or for those who were born in the age of
CD’s, track eight was perhaps one of the most beautiful songs ever written.
Sondheim’s “Send In The Clowns” from “A Little Night Music” was lyrically
altered at Barbra’s request. She felt the original lyrics were a “bit too
British and a bit too fancy” for her taste, so in bold Barbra fashion, she
asked Sondheim if he would consider “revisiting the lyric.” Without a blink
of an eye, Sondheim agreed, Barbra’s version was a bit more Americanized and
everybody was happy. This song has been recorded by just about every major
recording artist, but as usual, Barbra’s made it her own.
The Sondheim tribute continued on a medley from
“Sweeney Todd” and “Company” with “Pretty Woman/The Ladies Who Lunch.” This
is an absolute treasure of two extraordinary songs becoming one. Barbra’s
sly, sarcastic take on women who have nothing better to do with their days
but go to the gym, buy a hat and meet their girlfriends for lunch is
outstanding, as is her vocal. Barbra had said she thought about these women
quite a bit, and perhaps she was just a tiny bit envious of the beautiful
women who sit in front of a mirror brushing their hair while the world gets
handed to them on a silver platter, just because they’re pretty. This has
long been a dichotomy in Barbra’s life and career; the ugly duckling beating
the odds and emerging as the beautiful swan.
On Track ten, Barbra eases her way through “Can’t Help
Lovin’ That Man” in a pleasant quiet way, reminiscent of the film version of
“Showboat,” written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. The song
originally got a swankier version with a trumpet wailing over Streisand’s
soaring vocals. Barbra decided to bring it back to the simplicity of the
original, and what we get is a lovely version that’s beautifully
complimented by Stevie Wonder and his harmonica.
What would a Broadway album be without something from
George and Ira Gershwin? This time around, Barbra performs yet another
medley, “I Loves You Porgy/Porgy, I’s Your Woman Now (Bess You Is My Woman)”
from “Porgy and Bess.” The result is once again, Barbra the actress becoming
Barbra the singer becoming Barbra the actress. In other words, in
Streisand’s case, you can never tell where one lets go and the other takes
over. I guess it’s because they don’t. The “actress who sings” climbs so
deeply into the skin of this character, your heart beats faster with her
emotional vocal. Barbra feels Bess’ desire, love and pain, because Barbra
The song that takes the greatest departure from the
album was saved for last. We return to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen
Sondheim’s brilliant score of “West Side Story” for the stunning symphonic
“Somewhere.” Barbra had wanted this song to sound as if the heavens opened
up. It succeeded. Producer David Foster understood Barbra’s vision and the
result is nothing less than spectacular. This song of love and hope was the
perfect choice to close the album and Barbra’s otherworldly vocal soared.
When she sang “Hold my hand and I’ll take you there” towards the
climax, you felt as if you needed to reach out and hold her hand. THAT’S how
much she connects with her audience. Streisand already had her signature
songs, “People,” “The Way We Were,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and
“Evergreen.” Who would have thought 23 years into her career, she would’ve
added one more? “Somewhere” is absolutely stunning. Streisand wanted a sound
that was “out of this world” and by being Barbra Streisand, she not only got
it from this song, she got it from the entire album.
Out of sixty albums, if I HAD to rank her top five,
“The Broadway Album” is easily among them.
“The Broadway Album” debuted on the Billboard 200
Album Chart on November 23, 1985. It eventually topped the chart for three
weeks and remained on the chart for just under one year.
In February 1987, “The Broadway Album” won two Grammy
Awards. Best Pop Female Vocal Performance (Barbra Streisand – The
Broadway Album) and David Foster picked up one for Best Instrumental
Arrangement with Accompanying Vocal for “Somewhere.”
2005 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.
OF THE MONTH - April 2005
By Steven M. Housman - Exclusively for BarbraNews.com
BARBRA STREISAND: FUNNY GIRL – ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK RECORDING (RELEASED
SEPTEMBER 17, 1968, COLUMBIA RECORDS)
PRODUCED BY JACK GOLD, ARRANGED & CONDUCTED BY WALTER SCHARF.
When I began to contemplate
which album to review this month, I thought I’d choose the first Barbra
Streisand album that I had purchased. The experience of seeing the movie,
Funny Girl, in September 1968, forever changed me. By the age of 10, I
already had an innate sense of the popular music of the day. Being the
youngest of three, I had been exposed to the Beach Boys, the Beatles and
every pop song since I was born. But I had yet to experience complete awe
and adulation for a singer -- that was until Funny Girl and Barbra
Streisand. Not only had I never heard vocals so utterly astounding, I never
experienced such an array of emotion from a singer. My virgin ears finally
heard perfection and it was the first time I got those famous Streisand
goose bumps that so many people had talked and written about.
The brilliant score was written by the legendary Jule Styne and Bob Merrill
and included such Streisand classics as “I’m The Greatest Star,” “Don’t Rain
On My Parade” Streisand’s signature song, “People.”
Ten of the fourteen
tracks were sung by Streisand with the exception of “If A Girl Isn’t Pretty”
and “Roller Skate Rag.” “You Are Woman, I Am Man” is an hysterically funny
duet with Omar Sharif, and two songs that weren’t written by Styne and
Merrill; “I’d Rather Be Blue Over You (Than Be Happy With Somebody Else)”
and “My Man,” a song closely identified with Fanny Brice and Barbra
Streisand, demonstrate the depth and range of Streisand’s emotion. She could
be cooing and joking at one moment on the famous bride number; “His Love
Makes Me Beautiful,” breaking your heart on the Oscar-nominated title cut
written specifically for the film, and send your head reeling with her gutsy
and explosive vocals on “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” All of the songs showcase
Streisand’s versatility as the actress who sings.
Purists might say the Original Broadway Cast Album from 1964 was better,
maybe because they were there to witness the 22 year-old ingénue unknown
named Barbra Streisand. But when you take a listen to the vocals and the
arrangements on this soundtrack, it’s hard to argue with aforementioned
songs such as “I’d Rather Be Blue,” “People,” Don’t Rain On My Parade” and
the finale of all finale’s “My Man.” At 25 years old, Streisand never
sounded stronger or with sang with more conviction.
How many singers can you name that can belt a song like “I’m The Greatest
Star” and get away with it?
Footnote: This album has been certified platinum. It reached #12 on the
Billboard 200 and spent two years and four weeks on the chart.
OF THE MONTH - March 2005
BARBRA STREISAND: GUILTY-
(RELEASED SEPTEMBER, 1980, CBS)
PRODUCED BY BARRY GIBB, ALBHY
GALUTEN & KARL RICHARDSON
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: CHARLES
KOPPELMAN FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY
Considering there’s been so
much buzz lately about Barbra’s next album endeavor, her re-teaming with
Producer/Writer/Vocalist Barry Gibb, I thought it was only appropriate to
kick off the first “Barbra Streisand Album of the Month Profile” with her
1980 mega-smash Guilty -- the most successful pop album of Streisand’s long
and illustrious recording career.
By the late 70’s, the Bee Gees were the hottest act around, coming off of
Saturday Night Fever with six consecutive Number One singles. Meanwhile,
Streisand had become the ultimate pop princess-- scoring a dozen Top 40 hits
in the decade, including four Number One’s which included “The Way We Were,”
“Love Theme From A Star Is Born (Evergreen)” (both winning Grammy’s and Best
Song Oscars), and two historic duets, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with Neil
Diamond and “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” with Donna Summer.
In August 1980 the first single, “Woman in Love” written by Barry & Robin
Gibb, was released to radio and began a swift rise to the top of the charts.
The song was like nothing that Barbra had ever attempted in her 18-year
recording career. The hooks were pure Bee Gees magic and the backup vocals
were gorgeously ethereal. It was one of the best pop songs of Streisand’s
career. With the mounting success of the single, the anticipation for the
album rapidly increased. Five weeks later, the suspense was terminated.
Within three weeks after the release, Streisand owned the top of Billboard
Hot 100 and Album charts with “Woman in Love” and Guilty, respectively.
The title cut kicked off the album, which was a mid-tempo duet with Gibb. It
was an absolute joy to hear Barbra using her voice in such a playful way.
She and Barry complimented each other beautifully, as they did on the
album’s only other duet, the power ballad “What Kind of Fool.”
Another highlight on the album was “The Love Inside,” which is a lavish song
of lost love. Barbra’s unique brand of quiet longing married to the lush
arrangement makes this one of the finest in her repertoire, and proves that
nobody can break your heart and sell a song like Streisand.
“Promises” is the closest that the Gibb Brothers came to delivering a disco
song when disco was already on its way out. The song smartly used Gibb’s
dance element but slowed it down just enough to make it a mid-tempo romp
with Streisand easily gliding in and out of the melodious hooks.
For those of you who prefer a more traditional ballad, “Run Wild” proved to
be right up Streisand’s alley for the familiar sound most people associate
“Life Story” is a song that could have easily been used as a James Bond
theme song. Nobody knows their way around dramatic chord changes like Barry
Gibb, and this is no exception. Streisand’s flair for the dramatic
intensified the atmosphere even more.
“Never Give Up” is also a departure for Streisand. This is the first song
where the synthesizer actually complimented the songbird’s voice -- and when
you thought it was all studio trickery, the bridge came and Streisand sang
it with all of her Broadway bravado.
The final track “Make It Like A Memory” is the most dramatic of the
nine-song set. The sonata combines Streisand the actress with Streisand the
singer, and what we get is close to a three act play with a jaw-dropping
vocal and a wild guitar solo. Streisand coos at one moment and is belting
the next, with so much raw emotion she literally takes you on a seven and a
half minute roller coaster ride.
Guilty is the most unique album of Streisand’s pop catalogue, and it’s
easily apparent why it was Number One in over a dozen countries and sold
over twenty million units worldwide. The ingredients that Gibb cooked up for
this album are so delicious that even non-Streisand fans ate it up.
For those who haven’t heard this historic opus, I highly suggest picking up
a copy. The album may be titled Guilty, but the pleasure is anything but.
- Noted: Guilty was the
most-nominated Album of Streisand's career scoring the Top 5 categories at
the 24th Annual
- Grammy Awards in 1981,
- Best Pop Vocal
Performance, Duo or Group-"Guilty" (Duet With Barry Gibb) WINNER
- Album of the Year-Guilty
- Record of the
Year-"Woman In Love"
- Song of the Year "Woman
In Love" (Songwriters Award)
- Best Pop Female Vocal
Performance-"Woman In Love"