By Allan Davis
Let me start by saying that I’m a big Barbra Joan Streisand fan.
HUGE. Loved her long before I even knew what being gay was.
One of my first memories is watching Hello Dolly at the cinema with my family, telling everyone to be quiet when Streisand was on the screen.
I was 5.
Streisand, like most performers has reinvented herself a few times, though they are subtle changes, but they are nonetheless.
My personal favourite ‘Streisand’ is the 1970’s version. She seemed unstoppable.
Film. TV. Music; Streisand was everywhere.
A Star is Born, The Way We Were, What’s Up Doc? – pure magic captured on film.
Songbird, Streisand Superman, Wet and The Way We Were album – great albums that showcased her vocal talents.
Don’t even get me started on her 1979 duet with Donna Summer, No More Tears (Enough is Enough) – Pure disco heaven.
Which brings me to Partners, Barbra’s latest offering.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I would like it.
I wasn’t too enamoured with her offerings since the 2005 release, Guilty Pleasures, in which she once again collaborated with Barry Gibb.
However I did love her 2012 album release, cheekily titled Release Me – a collection of unreleased recorded songs which harked back to the Streisand that I was in love with.
On Partners, Barbra sings all the songs with singing ‘partners‘ ranging from Frank Sinatra to Michael Bublé and quite a few in between.
I have to be honest I quite enjoyed it. Sure, her voice is not as strong and wavers on some notes but it gave me goosebumps.
There are a couple of old recordings, including her duet with Barry Gibb from title track of her 1980 hit album Guilty and I Finally Found Someone with Bryan Adams, from The Mirror Has Two Faces soundtrack, but that only adds to the joy of this recording.
I already have a few favourite tracks, including her duet with Frank Sinatra, I’ve Got a Crush on You, Elvis Presley Love Me Tender, and I absolutely adore the version of People with Stevie Wonder; something rather magical. As well as her bluesy version of Come Rain or Come Shine with John Mayer.
This made me want to grab a Jack & Coke. I’m sure you’ll find your own favourites.
The only track that doesn’t really work for me is her duet with Lionel Ritchie, they sing The Way We Were. Their voices don’t quite gel and the new arrangement isn’t for me, but hey, don’t take my word for it, have a listen.
One of my favourite all time recordings of Streisand was her version of the song Somewhere from the musical West Side Story on her 1985 album The Broadway Album and I’m happy to say that it makes another appearance on Partners.
This time she sings it with Josh Groban. This song never fails to move me, beautiful arrangement and now recorded as a beautiful duet.
At times the album felt like an insight to who Streisand might have on speed dial, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Babyface, John Mayer, John Legend and Andrea Bocelli to name a few. That’s some address book.
And then there’s her duet with Jason, her son from her marriage to Elliot Gould. They sing How Deep is the Ocean a moving track that illustrates their love and affection for each other. You believe it. They sing with passion and it’s touching. Yes, I got a little verklempt.
Some of the greatest song writers from the 20th Century are well represented on this album, Bob Merrill, Jule Styne, Paul Williams, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlish and Stephen Sondheim, the list goes on….
The album could have quite easily have been called ‘Barbra at home singing with friends’ such is the casual tone of the album and it works, perfectly.
The little ad-libs at the end of some tracks made me smile, the exchange between Streisand and Joel at the end of New York State of Mind is begging you to grab your coat and join them for a Chinese. ‘Hey Barb, mine’s the chicken chow mein….’
Thank you Barbra for making this album for reminding me why I’ve been such a fan all this years and thank you for proving me wrong..
…You still got it!
There are a whole host of other gems on this recording, wait till you hear Barbra and Michael Bublé sing It Had to Be You, pure gold.
My advice, go out, buy the album, have a listen.
It reminded me of catching up with an old friend I hadn’t seen for a while. I promised to keep in touch.
4 out of 5
Partners – The full album track list:
1. ‘It Had To Be You’ (with Michael Bublé), 2. ‘People’ (with Stevie Wonder), 3. ‘Come Rain Or Come Shine’ (with John Mayer), 4. ‘Evergreen’ (with Babyface), 5. ‘New York State Of Mind’ (with Billy Joel), 6. ‘I’d Want It To Be You’ (with Blake Shelton), 7. ‘The Way We Were’ (with Lionel Richie) , 8. ‘I Still Can See Your Face’ (with Andrea Bocelli), 9. ‘How Deep Is The Ocean’ (with son Jason Gould), 10. ‘What Kind Of Fool’ (with John Legend), 11. ‘Somewhere’ (with Josh Groban), 12. ‘Love Me Tender’ (with Elvis Presley)
Bonus CD available on the Deluxe Edition:
13. ‘Lost Inside Of You’ (with Babyface), 14. ‘I’ve Got A Crush On You’ (with Frank Sinatra), 15. ‘I’ve Finally Found Someone’ (with Bryan Adams), 16. ‘I Won’t Be the One to Let Go’ (with Barry Manilow) and 17. ‘Guilty’ (with Barry Gibb)