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BARBRA STREISAND - GUILTY - CD
Guilty may well be Barbra Streisand's best pop album. At the peak of her late-'70s popularity, she hooked up with the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb, who himself was basking in his Saturday Night Fever glow. Gibb wrote and produced most of the material on 1980's Guilty, and he supplied background vocals as well as co-leads on two tracks. The results are still completely bewitching. "Promises," for instance, is a lounge-like dance number and Babs sounds simply fabulous--sexy, lighthearted, passionate, playful--all at once. "Life Story" is a wild epic, and "Make It Like a Memory" keeps soaring up and up into a stratosphere of shag-carpeted luxury. Even Gibb's wavering vocals are great--and not a little like a disco version of Mandy Patinkin. And of course, the hits are out of this world: "Woman in Love" and "What Kind of Fool" are titanium-plated classics the likes of which Streisand has not topped since. A guilty pleasure, sure--just indulge. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
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It is amazing that after over 25 years, "Guilty" is still Streisand's largest selling album. Barry Gibb and his brothers have worked wonders with many female artists, but this is probably their best writing and production work (Grammy winners). Garnering 5 singles with 2 going to #1, this is Barbra's essential "pop" album. From the R&B laden title track to the softly, sultry "Run Wild", Streisand's voice is relished. The Gibb's really know how to focus on Barbra's strengths. The two duets are some of Barry Gibb's strongest vocals to date and all the songs are bouncy, pop masterpieces. Finishing off nicely with the extravagant "Make It Like A Memory", you'll just hit the 'play' button again. Great album. Great songs. Great memories.
* The official term (sometimes abbreviated to 'PCM') for the high-quality stereo soundtrack found on most music DVDs. It refers to the most common digital recording process, first introduced with CD. In fact, DVD supports higher-resolution versions of LPCM than CD, the most common of which is 48kHz/16 bit (as opposed to CD's 44.1kHz/16 bit). It should be noted that LPCM Stereo is 'uncompressed', offering higher quality than such 'compressed' alternatives as Dolby Stereo (commonly used for feature films).
On August 30, 2005, 25 years later, Guilty was re-released not only in LPCM format, but also as a Dual Disc. Side One contains the original songs dusted off and tweaked so meticulously, you'll hear notes and instruments that you've never heard before. Side Two is the real treat. It's a DVD that consists of a brand new interview with Barbra and Barry on the recording of Guilty - taped June 2005, two live performances, "Guilty" and "What Kind Of Fool" from Barbra's legendary 1986 "One Voice" concert at her Malibu home, an excerpt "Stranger In A Strange Land," one of the eleven new songs from her upcoming September 20 release, titled Guilty Pleasures, a preview of the new album and a Photo Gallery of the sessions with Gibb.
The reason for all of this fanfare is of course to promote the most anticipated album of the upcoming fall music season. Before I jump ahead to her upcoming release, "Guilty Pleasures," let's go back to where it all began.
By the late 70's, the Bee Gees were the hottest act around, coming off of Saturday Night Fever and six consecutive Number One singles. Meanwhile, Streisand had become the ultimate pop princess-- scoring a dozen Top 40 hits in the decade, including four Number One's which included "The Way We Were," "Love Theme From A Star Is Born (Evergreen)" (both winning Grammy's and Best Song Oscars), and two historic duets, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" with Neil Diamond and "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" with Donna Summer.
In August 1980, the first single, "Woman in Love" written by Barry & Robin Gibb, was released to radio and began a swift rise to the top of the charts. The song was like nothing that Barbra had ever attempted in her then 18-year recording career. The hooks were pure Bee Gees magic and the backup vocals were gorgeously ethereal. It was one of the best pop songs of Streisand's career. With the mounting success of the single, the anticipation for the album rapidly increased. Five weeks later, the suspense was terminated. Within three weeks after the release, Streisand owned the top of Billboard Hot 100 and Album charts with "Woman in Love" and Guilty, respectively.
The title cut kicked off the album, which was a mid-tempo duet with Gibb. It was an absolute joy to hear Barbra using her voice in such a playful way. She and Barry complimented each other beautifully, as they did on the album's only other duet, the power ballad "What Kind of Fool."
Another highlight on the album was "The Love Inside," which is a lavish song of lost love. Barbra's unique brand of quiet longing married to the lush arrangement makes this one of the finest in her repertoire, and proves that nobody can break your heart and sell a song like Streisand.
"Promises" is the closest that the Gibb Brothers came to delivering a disco song when disco was already on its way out. The song smartly used Gibb's dance element but slowed it down just enough to make it a mid-tempo romp with Streisand easily gliding in and out of the melodious hooks.
For those of you who prefer a more traditional ballad, "Run Wild" proved to be right up Streisand's alley for the familiar sound most people associate her with.
"Life Story" is a song that could have easily been used as a James Bond theme song. Nobody knows their way around dramatic chord changes like Barry Gibb, and this song is no exception. Streisand's flair for the dramatic intensified the atmosphere even more.
"Never Give Up" was also a departure for Streisand. This is the first song where the synthesizer actually complimented the songbird's voice -- and when you thought it was all studio trickery, the bridge came and Streisand sang it with all of her Broadway bravado.
The final track "Make It Like A Memory" is the most dramatic of the nine-song set. The sonata combines Streisand the actress with Streisand the singer, and what we get is close to a three act play with a jaw-dropping vocal and a wild guitar solo. Streisand coos at one moment and is belting the next with so much raw emotion, she literally takes you on a seven and a half minute roller coaster ride.
Guilty is the most unique album of Streisand's pop catalogue, and it's easily apparent why it was Number One in over a dozen countries and sold over twelve million units worldwide. The ingredients that Gibb cooked up for this album are so delicious that even non-Streisand fans ate it up.
For those who haven't heard this historic opus, I highly suggest picking up a copy of the newly remastered Dual Disc- it is absolutely phenomenal. The album may be titled Guilty, but the pleasure is anything but.
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