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Barbra Streisand's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 is a great CD which was first released in November 15, 1978. I was able to purchase one when it was re-release in 1990. This contains 10 tracks which were recorded from 1970 to 1978.
1. Evergreen (Love Theme From 'A Star Is born') (3:04)
2. Prisoner (Love Theme From 'Eyes Of Laura Mars') (3:57)
3. My Heart Belongs to Me (3:21)
4. Songbird (3:45)
5. You Don't Bring Me Flowers (Duet with Neil Diamond) (3:26)
6. The Way We Were (3:30)
7. Sweet Inspiration/Where You Lead (6:20)
8. All In Love Is Fair (3:52)
9. Superman (2:47)
10. Stoney End (2:58)
'Evergreen' is an awesome starting track. This love theme from the movie remake 'A Star Is Born' is sung with so much passion. Love theme from 'Eyes of Laura Mars' is stunning and is sung with sensitivity and sincerity.
'My Heart Belongs To Me' is a great piece. The song 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers' shows that Streisand handles duet very well without overpowering Neil Diamond's vocals. 'The Way we Were' is such a wonderful love song and the greatest highlight of the album, I guess. Anyone can always tell that the song has the typical 70's sounds effect but it's still nice to hear this song even now.
I first heard Stevie Wonder's version of 'All In Love Is Fair' without really knowing that Streisand sang it too. When I heard her flawless version of this song, I appreciated the song even more. The guitar work is also great. 'Stoney End' is very impressive. This ending track of the album still sounds new and fresh each time I listen to it.
I consider Barbra Streisand as one of best female singers in 40 decades. She flawlessly sings her songs with so much ease and she delivers them as natural as breathing. Her talent, flawless renditions of the songs and great sense of timing make every track superb. Her success was phenomenal and this CD proves what an excellent singer she has been.
The only complaint I have with this album is that it is too short as it only contains 10 tracks so I remove one star from my rating. Columbia had been cashing in too much on Streisand's success by splitting her greatest hits into 2 volumes with less tracks in each volume. But even then, this is still a great CD.
Recently Radio 2 have been playing a fair amount of Barbra Streisand given the release of her new album "Love is the Answer". Produced by Diana Krall, Streisand interprets many classic old jazz songs including "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "If You Go Away".
And therein, for me at least, is the problem I have with Streisand these days - she is still a magnificent singer but her inability to do anything relevant in years has been something of a turn off for me as she has rested her laurels in the lucrative but bland MOR market.
As I listened to her admittedly well sung, but ultimately sleep inducing version of "In the Wee Small Hours" on the radio I was left hankering for a time when I would get excited over a Streisand release and wanted to go back to when this living legend was truly at her peak.
As a result I dug out my copy of "Greatest Hits Volume 2", a 1978 release which for me, was my main introduction to Streisand and remains one of my favourite albums even after all this time.
Streisand broke through to stardom in the 1960s but didn't become a superstar until the seventies, and this album captures that period of superstardom perfectly. Some of her earlier classics aren't included on this album - if you want tracks such as "People" or "Don't Rain on my Parade" you'll have to get her very first "Greatest Hits", but there are still a couple of true Streisand classics to be found here, along with some songs which are lesser played today.
The album opens with "Evergreen", which is one of Streisand's most successful songs. Streisand co-wrote this with Paul Williams for the 1976 film version of "A Star is Born" in which she co-starred with Kris Kristofferson.
This is one of Streisand's biggest hits and to this day there is something deeply moving about the guitar and piano playing this tender love song. Streisand's voice is beautiful and emotes the lyrics wonderfully - when she sings "morning glory and midnight sun" her voice is both sultry and sincere. This song still sounds fresh and vibrant to me and I honestly believe only those with the hardest of hearts could fail to be touched by it.
Another love theme, and less successful commercially, was "Prisoner" which was from the 1978 film "The Eyes of Laura Mars". Unusually for Streisand she didn't appear in this film - her involvement on the soundrack was down to her boyfriend of the time Jon Peters working as producer of the film, he having made the somewhat bizarre leap from Hollywood hairdresser to Hollywood honcho.
"Prisoner" is a perfunctory power ballad with Streisand's voice working best in the verses as the choruses tend to be lost in hyperbole, loud guitar solos and overpowering backing vocals. This is a shame because in the hands of a different producer this could have been a better track overall - instead it sounds quite badly dated today.
The remaining ballads on this album are excellent at displaying Streisand's voice but they vary in quality. Streisand sounds divine on "My Heart Belongs To Me", but there's no denying it's a bland and forgettable song. Contrast this with her bland and forgettable vocals on her version of Stevie Wonder's brilliant song "All in Love is Fair" - whilst there is no denying Streisand has some soul, she cannot hold a candle to Wonder when it comes to emoting without going over the top and there is something rather insincere about her version.
When she gets ballads right, she is outstanding however. "The Way We Were", another film theme song, is still a classic today, over 35 years since the film of the same name was released. I was a child when I first heard this however there is something about the way Streisand sings the words "misty water colour memories of the way we were" which taught me that time marches on relentlessly and things have to change, whether you want them to or not. This song was probably overplayed in the 70s but it's one I have been happy to rediscover, enjoying the beauty of the words, the vocals and the sentiment.
"Songbird" is another beautiful ballad which Streisand nails perfectly - of course it helps when you have a voice as rich as hers. Starting slowly with a delicate guitar introduction, Steisand keeps her vocals soft for most of the song, restraining herself nicely and without giving into the temptation of going over the top. If ever there was one single song that displays why Streisand is such a good singer I would suggest this is the one.
The other ballad on the album is her hit duet with Neil Diamond "You Don't Bring Me Flowers". This is an ode to the break-up of a relationship and whilst there is no denying metaphor is a good one and that Diamond and Streisand sing it sincerely, I find it all a bit cloying and irritating and have done since I first heard it as a teenager.
There are a few uptempo songs on the album. Streisand puts her heart and soul into "Sweet Inspiration/Where You Lead" which is a welcome break from the ballads. The trouble is, she isn't Aretha Franklin, so while it's nice to hear her give the song a little soul, others can do it much better.
"Superman" is a midtempo pop song which I have loved since I was a teenager. One of Streisand's lesser known songs, she captures the joy and happiness of being in love with her voice. For sure it's no classic but there is something incredibly likeable about her voice and the song here.
Rounding up the album is Streisand's version of Laura Nyro's "Stoney End". Nyro's version is sultry in places whereas Streisand's is probably the most soulful her voice ever sounded, and here it works very well.
Her interpretation of the song is also incredibly difficult - put it this way Streisand rarely performs this live - and it really displays her vocal talents well. I like Nyro's version but absolutely love Streisand's.
It's worth bearing in mind that this is a slight release - there are only ten tracks on the album. This of course was pretty normal for the 70s when most music was purchased on vinyl, but for the CD and download age it seems puny.
I appreciate for some Barbra Streisand probably comes across as an irrelevance, but there is no denying she has a distinctive voice and is an incredibly gifted singer, but these days she is clearly happy to record music that is rooted in the past rather than attempt to do something that might see her in the charts again. Part of me admires her for this and pleasing herself, but there is another part of me that wishes she could come out with a killer ballad that would knock the divas into shape and show them who's the best.
So while I enjoyed hearing songs from her latest album you have to bear in mind this is an artist who will be firmly aware of the fact that her best years vocally are behind her - so take the chance to hear her at the peak of her vocal prowess on an album which showcases her talents perfectly.
Available on Amazon for download - the CD is import only.
**Previously published by me on ciao under the same user name**
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Evergreen (Love Theme From "A Star Is Born")
2 Prisoner (Love Theme from "Eyes of Laura Mars")
3 My Heart Belongs to Me
5 You Don't Bring Me Flowers - Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand
6 Way We Were
7 Sweet Inspiration/Where You Lead
8 All in Love Is Fair
10 Stoney End