Top Artists – Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand / Guilty – Bab’s Best and Most Underrated Album (By Too Many Audiophiles Anyway)

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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.

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Barbra Streisand – Stoney End

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More Vintage Columbia Pressings

  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it throughout this original Columbia pressing
  • Amazingly Big, Lively and Tubey Magical, courtesy of the production chops of none other than Richard Perry
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…redefined Streisand as an effective pop/rock singer [and] was so far removed from what Streisand’s fans and her detractors thought her capable of that it stands as one of her major triumphs.”

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Barbra Streisand – The Barbra Streisand Album

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More Vintage Columbia Pressings

  • 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.

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Barbra Streisand – Je M’Appelle Barbra – ’60s 360 Vs. ’70s Red

More of the Music of Barbra Streisand

For Barbra Streisand’s early albums the original pressings on the 360 label have just got to be better, right? 

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth. The best of the 360 pressings in our shootout did well, just not as well.

Our good later label pressings had all the richness and Tubey Magic of the 360s — one really couldn’t tell which pressing was on the turntable by the sound — but had a bit more space, clarity and freedom from artificiality.

Watch your levels because she really gets loud on some of this material. The best copies, such as this side one, hold up. The lesser copies get congested, shrill and crude at their loudest, and of course get marked down dramatically when that happens.

Side two as very rich and smooth, yet clear and breathy – this is the right sound for ol’ Babs. The first track has tons of Tubey Magical reverb – check it out! (more…)

Barbra Streisand – The Third Album

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  • Streisand’s 1964 release eturns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • These 360 Label stereo originals are the only way to hear the Tubey Magic and space that is all over the original master tape
  • Frank Laico engineered at Columbia’s legendary 30th street studios – you can easily imagine how good the sound is
  • Ms Streisand sings a wonderful batch of standards on this one: My Melancholy Baby, Just In Time, It Had To Be You, As Time Goes By and 6 more

Both sides are rich and full-bodied, as befits anything recorded by the legendary Frank Laico at Columbia’s 30th street studios. (more…)

Barbra Streisand – Guilty – CBS Half-Speed Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

We had two copies of the CBS Half-Speed in stock, and having just done a big shootout for the album, we decided to play them to see how they stood up against The Real Thing, the real thing in this case being a pretty common pressing: a plain old Columbia original.

One copy was dead as a doornail, so smooth, opaque and lifeless it would put you to sleep.

The other literally sounded like a CD, and not a very good one at that! Grungy, gritty, hard and cold, it was everything we analog lovers hate about digital.

We grade both copies F for Failing. If you want a good sounding one steer clear of the CBS Half Speed. (more…)

Barbra Streisand – People

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  • An outstanding copy of Streisand’s fourth solo studio album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy is hard to fault – big, open, clear, with space and three-dimensionality that modern pressings can only dream of
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Barbra Streisand returned to form on her fourth album, People, with a selection of songs that showed some of the imagination of her debut album… it was a definite improvement over the second and third albums. (People won Grammy Awards for Best Vocal Performance and Best Album Cover.)” 

This vintage Columbia 360 Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)