Barbra Streisand / Guilty – Bab’s Best

More of the Music of Barbra Streisand

This ain’t no zombie audiophile BS, the kind of sleep-inducing, reverb-drenched trash that passes for “female vocals” in bad audio showrooms around the globe. (Paging Diana Krall.) This is Barbra and The Bee Gees at the peak of their Pop Powers. It just doesn’t get any better.

This is THE BEST ALBUM Babs ever made, and you can take that to the bank. It’s also one of the best sounding, if not THE best sounding of her later Monster Pop Productions. Can’t say for sure as I haven’t played all that many. Her first album is a true Demo Disc as well, but that one’s all about the Tubey Magical ’60s Columbia era, the Golden Age of Natural Sound, a world away from Guilty and its layers and layers of tracks. Having said that, there are multi-tracks and then there are multi-tracks.

The engineers and producers here pull it off brilliantly.

If you don’t feel something deep inside when playing this record, open up a vein and let some of that ice water that passes for blood in your system run out.

It’s From WHERE?

This very copy was on the site for a long time. Nobody wanted to buy it even though it was quite cheap, and there’s a good reason nobody wanted to buy it: it’s a Japanese pressing.

That’s right, it’s one of those typically awful Japanese pressings that we criticize endlessly on the site, the purest form of audiophle BS vinyl in the history of the world. We played side one and heard the kind of sound that did not exactly float our boats. (Before it was cleaned it really sounded bad.)

But when we filpped it over we were positively KNOCKED OUT by the sound and decided it had to be part of our shootout. While evaluating the record the listening panel (mostly me) had no idea which pressing was playing. When the Side Two A Triple Plus Gold Star was awarded to this much-maligned Japanese pressing we were FLABBERGASTED.

Let the Record Speak for Itself

But it just goes to show that ANY record can be good, that even any SIDE of a record can be good. How the Japanese managed to get this record right after failing on literally hundreds of others we’ve played over the years is anyone’s guess.

As we are fond of saying, we have no theory to account for the sound of records, just the evidence of what they actually do sound like. We leave theorizing to those who find it of value. We find it has virtually none; we prefer the playingof records in order to determine their sound quality over any other approach. (Since no other approach in our experience works at all we’re always a little surprised that audiophiles still want to use other approaches. There is not an iota of evidence to support any of them. They are — for all intents and purposes –absolutely one hundred per cent worthless.)

Just Buy the Japanese Pressing Then?

Now do all the Japanese pressings of Guilty sound like this one? Of course not. Records are records, no matter who makes them. They all sound different. If you think buying Japanese pressings is the way to find a hot stamper of Guilty, go for it dude. Let us know how it works our for you.

This is the Streisand’s Masterpiece in our opinion.

What qualifies a record to be a Masterpiece needs little in the way of explanation. We will make every effort to limit the list to one entry per artist or group, although some exceptions have already occurred to me, so that rule will no doubt be broken from time to time. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so famously wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”


Side One

Woman in Love
Run Wild
The Love Inside

Side Two

What Kind of Fool
Life Story
Never Give Up
Make It Like a Memory

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

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.)

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