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International Pop - Released February 25, 1963 | Columbia

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Of course, the first thing that strikes you listening to the first Barbra Streisand album, recorded and released before the singer's 21st birthday, is that great voice. And it isn't just the sheer quality of the voice, its purity and its strength throughout its register, it's also the mastery of vocal effects that produce dramatic readings of the lyrics -- each song is like a one-act musical. Streisand opens with Julie London's signature torch song, "Cry Me a River," and she doesn't only surpass London, she sets off a thermonuclear explosion. From there, versatility and novelty are emphasized -- a breakneck version of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?," a slow, emotion-drenched performance of "Happy Days Are Here Again." But Streisand's debut, inventively arranged and conducted by Peter Matz, is notable as much for the surprising omissions as the surprising selections. Arriving in 1963, ten years into the revival of sophisticated interwar theater songs led by Frank Sinatra and followed by all other adult pop singers, Streisand virtually ignores the modern masters like Gershwin and Berlin. When she does do Rodgers & Hart or Cole Porter, she picks obscure songs; her idea of a good 1930s number is Fats Waller and Andy Razaf's "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now." She is much more comfortable with recent theater material, choosing two songs from The Fantasticks (1960) and the title song from the stage play A Taste of Honey (1962). The Barbra Streisand Album is an essential recording in the field of pop vocals because it redefines that genre in contemporary terms. (The Barbra Streisand Album won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, Best Female Vocal Performance, and Best Album Cover.) ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released November 22, 2013 | Columbia

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Recorded live on October 11 and 13, 2012 at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center, Back to Brooklyn features vocal legend Barbra Streisand performing on the first night of her world tour. The event marked the first time Streisand had performed in her hometown since embarking on her storied career. The concert also marked the infamously stage-shy Streisand's first live performance since her intimate 2009 Greenwich Village show, One Night Only: Streisand at the Village Vanguard. Backed by a 65-piece orchestra led by conductor Bill Ross, and featuring special guests -- trumpeter Chris Botti, vocal trio Il Volo, and her son, Jason Gould (who has clearly been blessed with the same God-given talent as his mom) -- Streisand performed a bevy of her biggest hits and favorite songs, many of which she has never performed live. Included here are such Streisand standards as the Marvin Hamlisch/Alan & Marilyn Bergman "The Way We Were,” the Oscar-winning "Evergreen," and "Don't Rain on My Parade," from Streisand's 1968 film debut, Funny Girl. Similarly, we get superb renditions of several other notable Streisand numbers including “The Way He Makes Me Feel," from the Yentl soundtrack, and "People," also from Funny Girl. Elsewhere, Streisand delves into a handful of standards including "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "You're the Top," and "What'll I Do"/"My Funny Valentine," featuring gorgeous accompaniment from Botti. In her seventies at the time of recording, and with a lifetime of experience and skills to bring to the table, Streisand has graduated from stage & screen diva to grande dame of traditional vocal pop. Besides a minor but delightful uptick in her vocal grit (a quality she’s always used to some extent to give her voice character) Streisand's resonant vocal chops are in top form throughout the Back to Brooklyn concert. Ultimately for Streisand, as well as for her fans, Back to Brooklyn isn't just a return to the stage, it’s a coming home. ~ Matt Collar
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Pop - Released November 2, 2018 | Columbia

Having established her own philanthropic foundation in 1986, Barbra Streisand has long been an outspoken proponent for the protection of the environment, world peace, civil rights, and women's rights. She brings these passions to bear on her sophisticated 2018 studio album Walls. While Walls is certainly borne out of Streisand's own deeply heartfelt feelings regarding the state of the world and the seemingly divisive nature of American politics circa 2018, it's also a lushly produced and ruminative album that allows the multi-Grammy-winning singer to strike a pleasingly sincere tone with a broad appeal. Executive-produced by Streisand and Jay Landers, along with production and songwriting pros including Carole Bayer Sager, Walter Afanasieff, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and others, Walls features a mix of newly penned originals and thoughtfully curated covers that evokes the adult-contemporary pop she championed throughout the '70s and '80s. Explicitly, the orchestral title-track, delivered with Broadway-level drama by Streisand, is a plea for bridging our personal differences rather than walling ourselves off. It's a sweeping, movie-perfect song, and showcases how Streisand's highly resonant voice has only grown richer with age. Several other songs, including the classical guitar-accented "What's on My Mind" and the hypnotic, piano-driven "Don't Lie to Me," are earnest meditations on the need for kindness, empathy, and honesty in our society. Elsewhere, she and writer/producer Desmond Child weave lines from Emma Lazarus' 1883 Statue of Liberty sonnet "The New Colossus" into their sweeping ballad "Lady Liberty." Similarly, with the Sager, Landers, and Jonas Myrin co-write "Better Angels," Streisand draws directly upon President Abraham Lincoln's 1861 inaugural address singing "We are not enemies, there is no good in that." Streisand's cover choices also evoke a thoughtful timeliness as she pairs with Michael McDonald and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds for Burt Bacharach and Hal David's Vietnam-era classic "What the World Needs Now." Equally timely is her gorgeously melancholy reading of the standard "Happy Days Are Here Again." There's both a sadness and warmth to Streisand's performances on Walls that befits the album's subject matter and speaks to her own ability to communicate to, and often for, her audience. ~ Matt Collar
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International Pop - Released September 23, 1980 | Columbia

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The biggest selling album of Barbra Streisand's career is also one of her least characteristic. The album was written and produced by Barry Gibb in association with his brothers and the producers of the Bee Gees, and in essence it sounds like a post-Saturday Night Fever Bee Gees album with vocals by Streisand. Gibb adapted his usual style somewhat, especially in slowing the tempos and leaving more room for the vocal, but his melodic style and the backup vocals, even when they are not sung by the Bee Gees, are typical of them. Still, the record was more hybrid than compromise, and the chart-topping single "Woman in Love" has a sinuous feel that is both right for Streisand and new for her. Other hits were the title song and "What Kind of Fool," both duets with Gibb. (The song "Guilty" won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal by Duo or Group.) ~ William Ruhlmann
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International Pop - Released January 29, 2002 | Columbia

Although Barbra Streisand has recorded for the same company, Columbia Records, throughout her career, her work has not been particularly well represented on compilations. Four single-disc best-ofs dot her discography, but the listener who wanted to do something as simple as purchase an album containing the original studio recordings of both her first Top Ten hit, "People," and her first number one, "The Way We Were," without plumping for the four-CD box set Just for the Record , was out of luck. Complicating the compiling of her career highlights is her position as essentially an album artist, despite having scattered 11 Top Ten pop hits across 32 years. The ideal collection would have to do justice to her popular early albums of the '60s, her mid-career singles hits of the '70s, and her renewed album success in the '80s and '90s. Here it is. At a CD-busting length of over two and a half hours, this 40-track double-disc set encapsulates Streisand's recording career in chronological order from her 1963 debut album to 1999. (Two previously unreleased tracks sound like outtakes from her later album projects. "Someday My Prince Will Come" probably got left off of A Love Like Ours, while the gospel-tinged "You'll Never Walk Alone" must have been intended for Higher Ground.) Intelligently picking signature performances from her best and most popular albums, it largely eschews a raft of singles that got into the bottom half of the Top 40, but leaves out only one Top Ten hit, "What Kind of Fool." The singer's versatility and her ability to impose her immediately identifiable vocal style on a variety of material are emphasized in recordings that range from Broadway show tunes to disco. A collection like this has been needed for a long time as a gateway to Streisand's bountiful, indeed overwhelming, catalog. ~ William Ruhlmann
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International Pop - Released December 8, 2017 | Columbia

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16 concerts, 14 cities… In 2016 and 2017, the great Barbra Streisand (75 years old) worked tirelessly to offer her legendary voice to her many fans. Without being a testamentary work, this series of concerts still constitutes a nostalgic inventory of the rich career of the performer of Woman in love (a title that is strangely and unfortunately absent from this collection). Incidentally, the album cover shows its hand by putting seven vignettes side by side picturing Streisand in concert throughout her life. Thanks to a lush crossover cast, these concerts showcase the artist above all else, who is captivating in the musicals A Star is Born (with the smooth Evergreen) and Funny Girl (with the spruce and jazzy Don’t Rain on My Parade). Always in this cinematographic niche, the colour suddenly changes while she performs a stripped-down and deep version of Papa, Can You Hear Me, taken from her unique movie as a director (Yentl). Admittedly her presence and charisma are still there, but in this type of song, the “magic” that the title of the album tries to sell us is harder to believe in, as the crystal from her voice is now tarnished. In the end, it’s in the most energetic and optimistic songs that she comes out best, such as How Lucky Can You Get, drawn from Funny Lady, or the mischievous Jingle Bells. Because if her vocal cords are sometimes tired, Streisand’s invigorating personality remains intact, and it’s what we’ll remember the most from these musical memories, testimonies of an era which will keep its “magic” forever. It’s worth noting that there’s a delightful duo with Jamie Fox on the very lyric Climb Ev’ry Moutain, a little-known song from The Sound of Music. This Deluxe version contains 8 additional tracks to the standard version—including the audio version of the complete recording of the Miami concert, which was broadcasted on Netflix in November 2017. © NM/Qobuz
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Pop - Released November 1, 1981 | Columbia

As albums go, Barbra Streisand's Memories made a great single. A compilation, but not exactly a hits collection, it contained two newly recorded songs, "Memory" from the musical Cats and the Top 40 hit "Comin' in and Out of Your Life," plus a re-recorded version of "Lost Inside of You," a song previously done as a duet with Kris Kristofferson in A Star Is Born, and seven tracks from the previous eight years, three of which were making their third or fourth appearance on record. In other words, Memories was a blatant consumer rip-off, highly unusual for an artist who usually gave value for money. That said, the album contained some of Streisand's biggest hits -- "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," "Evergreen," and "The Way We Were," as well as some excellent performances, such as Streisand's take on Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind." Thus, it was a good collection thought of independently (which may help explain why it became one of Streisand's biggest sellers), even if in the context of her overall catalog it was an album of reruns baited with a couple of new songs. [In the U.K., the album was released with four additional tracks -- "Kiss Me in the Rain," "I Don't Break Easily," "Wet," and "A Man I Loved" -- under the title Love Songs (CBS 10031).] ~ William Ruhlmann
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International Pop - Released November 26, 2002 | Columbia

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International Pop - Released September 25, 2009 | Columbia

Even before their first session together, Barbra Streisand and collaborator Diana Krall designed Love Is the Answer as a deeply emotional record: "each song an exploration concerning matters of the heart." And with the arrangements of maestro Johnny Mandel simply drawing occasional shading around Streisand's expressive voice -- and often leaving her voice as the only instrument -- the album goes well beyond the usual saloon-song tropes to become a heart-wrenching experience with virtually every song. Additionally, although much was made of the collaboration, Krall's piano stays in the background, and Streisand's is the only voice heard. But the song choices also were tailored to maximize the emotional impact of Love Is the Answer, and Streisand's incomparable voice. Nearly every song is a classic of tender balladry, despite the fact that none had been put on album by Streisand before during her long career. Those facts alone should leave Streisand fans in ecstasy, as practically nothing stands in the way of her voice as she sings some of the best songs of the last century, aching and sincere with every melancholy or lovelorn ballad, tenderly strident with every (ultimately) uplifting anthem. "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" opens up like a flower akin to some of her best performances, and the same goes for "Make Someone Happy," composed by the classic team of Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green (Styne composed the music for Streisand's Funny Girl). Elsewhere, more classics of the American songbook -- "Here's That Rainy Day," "Where Do You Start?," "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Gentle Rain" -- prove themselves irresistible to the Barbra Streisand treatment. The overall effect is that this is one of the Streisand albums most appealing to her fans and her potential fans -- which includes nearly everyone who appreciates a singer singing like she's lived every line of her songs. ~ John Bush
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Pop - Released September 29, 2009 | Columbia

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International Pop - Released April 28, 1987 | Columbia

For her first live recording in more than 14 years (a benefit held in her backyard with tickets at $5,000.00 dollars a throw), Barbra Streisand reviewed her work in the interim, singing her chart-topping themes from the movies The Way We Were and A Star Is Born and choosing material from such memorable projects as Guilty (for which Barry Gibb got up and sang along), Yentl, and The Broadway Album. She also found room for a wonderful version of "Over the Rainbow" and for such old favorites as "People" and "Happy Days Are Here Again," the latter a Democratic Party campaign song and therefore singularly appropriate since the concert was held to raise money for Democratic Senate candidates. The political caste of the evening came out in Streisand's sometimes preachy stage remarks and the concert-closing "America the Beautiful," but it was possible to enjoy the recording no matter what your politics. ~ William Ruhlmann
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International Pop - Released January 30, 2015 | Columbia

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International Pop - Released November 1, 1976 | Columbia

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International Pop - Released January 1, 1985 | Columbia

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Barbra Streisand's abandonment of Broadway was the worst thing that happened to the theater in the '60s. Her retreat from theater music on record was less of a loss, if only because she had tended to focus on second-rank composers and obscure songs by first-rate ones, while practically ignoring, for example, Stephen Sondheim, who, as of the early '70s, became the pre-eminent Broadway songwriter. When she returned to show songs in 1985, she reversed these failings. Now, the singer who had never done much with Rodgers and Hammerstein, Frank Loesser, George Gershwin, or Jerome Kern finally felt confident enough to take on "If I Loved You" from Carousel, "Adelaide's Lament" from Guys And Dolls, "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" from Showboat, and a medley from Porgy And Bess, and she did them well. Even better, on seven tracks with Sondheim's name on them, she proved the perfect intepreter of the most contemporary and intellectual of Broadway's writers, whether singing his lyrics over the music of Leonard Bernstein (another composer she'd largely neglected) from West Side Story or making the most of material drawn from shows like Company, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Sunday In The Park With George. Sondheim collaborated with Streisand, penning special lyrics for songs like "Putting It Together" and even his standard, "Send In The Clowns." Also on board was Streisand's arranger from the early and mid-'60s, Peter Matz. The result was an album that repositioned some of Broadway's best in a pop context (doubtless many people heard these great songs for the first time) and showed that Streisand was still at her best when presenting the dramatically satisfying story songs of the theater. Apparently, many long-time fans agreed: At sales over three million, The Broadway Album was Streisand's most commercially successful album in five years. (The Broadway Album won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal.)
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International Pop - Released January 1, 1974 | Columbia

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Though usually referred to as The Way We Were, the unwieldy full title of this album is "Barbra Streisand Featuring the Hit Single The Way We Were and All in Love Is Fair," an important distinction because it was released simultaneously with the original soundtrack album for the film The Way We Were (Columbia 32830), which also contained a Streisand recording of the title song, along with the film score composed by Marvin Hamlisch. This album was thrown together quickly after that song took off as a single (in a recording different from the one in the film) in the wake of the success of the movie. In addition to the single and the Stevie Wonder song that also features in its title, the album contained a grab-bag of stray tracks dating back as far as seven years and coming from Streisand's fourth TV special, The Belle of 14th Street and an unfinished album project called "The Singer" largely made up of ballads written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand. The combined commercial impact of the film and the single propelled this album to the top of the charts. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released September 12, 2014 | Columbia

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Barbra Streisand's 2014 duets album, Partners, features the legendary vocalist performing songs associated with her storied career alongside a handful of handpicked guests. Produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Walter Afanasieff, Partners is a duets album in the modern tradition of such similarly inclined releases as Frank Sinatra's Duets, Tony Bennett's Duets: An American Classic, and Paul Anka's Duets. The album also follows up Streisand's 2013 live concert recording Back to Brooklyn. As with that album, Partners works as a retrospective, with Streisand revisiting songs she's recorded on past albums, such as her classic "Evergreen" from the soundtrack to her 1976 remake of A Star Is Born, performed here with Babyface. Also joining Streisand are such luminaries as Michael Bublé for "It Had to Be You," Stevie Wonder for "People," Billy Joel for "New York State of Mind," Andrea Bocelli for "I Still Can See Your Face," and others. John Mayer even brings along his guitar for a bluesy, Count Basie-inspired rendition of "Come Rain or Come Shine." With Edmonds and Afanasieff on board, the tracks on Partners showcase a pleasing balance between Streisand's various stylistic wheelhouses from Broadway standards, to adult contemporary pop, to classical crossover, and even a hint of country (as her duet with Blake Shelton reveals). While certainly a novelty, the digitally created, fan-service duet with the late Elvis Presley (Streisand's original choice of co-star for A Star Is Born) is tastefully and lovingly crafted. Ultimately, Partners works as guided tour down Streisand's memory lane, and with her resonant voice still in supple shape, any excuse to hear her sing is a welcome invitation. ~ Matt Collar
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International Pop - Released October 16, 1967 | Columbia

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Pop - Released October 1, 1974 | Columbia

Barbra Streisand's first album of newly recorded, non-soundtrack studio material in three years, ButterFly was ridiculed at the time of its release because its credited producer was her boyfriend, Jon Peters, whose musical credentials were nonexistent. In retrospect, the real power on the album was arranger Tom Scott, a reed player who had perfected a light jazz-pop style in his work on Joni Mitchell's Court and Spark earlier in the year. ButterFly backed off from the pop/rock style of its predecessors, Stoney End and Barbra Joan Streisand, but it still found Streisand assaying contemporary material by such writers as Bob Marley, Graham Nash, and David Bowie. Unlike Richard Perry, who had produced those albums, Scott adapted the songs to Streisand's powerful and individual vocal style rather than having her ape existing versions of the songs. The result was more of a compromise with contemporary pop that, while it sold only to Streisand's existing fan base, nevertheless had its charms. ~ William Ruhlmann
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International Pop - Released October 28, 1997 | Columbia

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As Barbra Streisand's first studio album of mainstream pop material in nine years, Higher Ground is something of an oddity. Instead of devoting herself to Broadway standards or a set of radio-oriented pop tunes, Streisand has crafted a record that she intended as a tribute to the power of music as prayer. It's an ambitious project, but for the most part it works, achieving a surprising grace. Higher Ground comprises both traditional religious songs and new material (even "Tell Him," an overblown duet with Celine Dion, vaguely touches on that theme), with grandiose arrangements by Marvin Hamlisch. Although Streisand and Hamlisch still favor sweeping strings and bold statements -- so much so that many of the songs sound remarkably similar to each other, in terms of dynamics and arrangements -- the album retains its power thanks to her subtle interpretations of melody and lyrics. The end result might not quite match her latter-day masterpieces, but it's another strong addition to her catalog. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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International Pop - Released August 26, 2016 | Columbia

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The follow-up to 2014's Partners, Barbra Streisand's 2016 studio effort, Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway, finds the acclaimed vocalist duetting with high-profile guest singers on a set of well-curated Broadway compositions. The difference this time out is that rather than simply singing the songs, wherever possible Streisand also includes the dialogue that frames the songs in their respective musical productions. The result is an album that straddles the line between a traditional pop album and musical theater recording. Helping to achieve this theatrical balance are Streisand's guests, all of whom can sing, but who, like Alec Baldwin, are primarily known as actors. On that score, Baldwin acquits himself nicely with his usual wry charm on the lightly swinging "The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened to Me" from Road Show. Not surprisingly, the more Broadway-experienced guests here, like Hugh Jackman on "Any Moment" from Smile and Patrick Wilson on "Loving You" from Passion, work both ends of the spectrum from acting to singing with seamless verve. Similarly effective are her duets with Family Guy creator turned classic crooner Seth MacFarlane on "Pure Imagination," and Melissa McCarthy on the buoyantly playful "Anything You Can Do," from Annie Get Your Gun. Particularly impressive is Star Trek's Chris Pine, whose nuanced baritone melds perfectly with Streisand on the yearning medley "I'll Be Seeing You/I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," from Right This Way and My Fair Lady. It's also fun to hear Streisand play off more than one performer, as she does here with Anne Hathaway and Star Wars' Daisy Ridley on "At the Ballet," from A Chorus Line. Kudos also go to Streisand for choosing the late Anthony Newley for the digitally created duet on "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" from The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd. Much like her Elvis duet on Partners, her turn with the acclaimed British performer is a highly unexpected one and makes for a gloriously dramatic homage to Broadway in the '60s. ~ Matt Collar