- With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this 360 original stereo pressing was one of the best sounding copies we played in our recent shootout
- Amazingly Tubey Magical and intimate, this copy will teleport a living, breathing Barbra Streisand directly into your listening room like no album of hers you have ever heard
- Another superb recording by Fred Plaut at Columbia’s legendary 30 St. studio
- 5 stars: “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.”
Excellent, natural, unprocessed sound. And Babs does a very nice job with this set of standards. This, her debut, and the album Guilty, are the two Streisand records I’m likely to play.
This vintage Columbia 360 Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of The Barbra Streisand Album have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1963
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Fred Plaut and Frank Laico, Extraordinary Engineers
What We’re Listening For on The Barbra Streisand Album
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
Cry Me a River
My Honey’s Loving Arms
I’ll Tell the Man in the Street
A Taste of Honey
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf
Soon It’s Gonna Rain
Happy Days Are Here Again
Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now
Come to the Supermarket (In Old Peking)
A Sleepin’ Bee
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’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.)