The Broadway Album

Barbra Streisand

1985: CBS CK 40092

  1. Putting It Together
  2. If I Loved You
  3. Something’s Coming
  4. Not While I’m Around
  5. Being Alive
  6. I Have Dreamed
    We Kiss in a Shadow
    Something Wonderful
  7. Adelaide’s Lament
  8. Send in the Clowns
  9. Pretty Women
    The Ladies Who Lunch
  10. Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man
  11. I Loves You Porgy
    Porgy, I’s Your Woman Now (Bess, You Is My Woman)
  12. Somewhere

This is the only Streisand album I own, therefore I am not a proper queen. Don’t get me wrong: I think she’s a great singer (and her voice in waveform is jaw-droppingly pure), and I LOVE her in “What’s Up, Doc?” but I just don’t revel in her albums, because her choice of material usually holds no appeal for me. I just happened to be so smitten by a few tracks on this particular one that I added it to my collection. Specifically “Being Alive” (because it’s a great song horribly tainted by its Original Broadway Cast recording[s]), “Somewhere,” and “The Ladies Who Lunch.” Since I added this to my collection, I’ve come to cherish a couple of other tracks: “If I Loved You,” thanks to the “recording of” video for this album, which really recast the song for me in such a way that I actually appreciate it now, and the Porgy & Bess pair (in which case I have always been repulsed by the dialect-heavy lyrics, but Babs’s rendition reacquainted me with the gorgeous harmonic sequences Gershwin wrote under it all).

I have mixed feelings about her commandeering of Sondheim’s “Putting It Together,” although I concede that she not only got the master himself to revise the lyrics for her and she did pull it into a valid and compelling version. That her delivery of it actually gives me chills (not just the first time, which was, what, ten years ago?) is testimony.

Overall the album’s dreadfully handicapped and dated by cheesy synth-keyboard elements on many tracks, and it’s not helped by Streisand’s indifference to written tempo of melody (one of the main reasons I have never been able to enjoy her work despite her voice’s copious merits). What’s really sad is that her version of “Being Alive,” full of syn-drums and almost-disco Vegas-snazziness, is still better than the versions recorded by the Original Broadway Cast.