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The Essential Barbra Streisand

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
Although Barbra Streisand has recorded for the same company, Columbia Records, throughout her career, her work has not been particularly well represented on compilations. Four single-disc best-ofs dot her discography, but the listener who wanted to do something as simple as purchase an album containing the original studio recordings of both her first Top Ten hit, "People," and her first number one, "The Way We Were," without plumping for the four-CD box set Just for the Record , was out of luck. Complicating the compiling of her career highlights is her position as essentially an album artist, despite having scattered 11 Top Ten pop hits across 32 years. The ideal collection would have to do justice to her popular early albums of the '60s, her mid-career singles hits of the '70s, and her renewed album success in the '80s and '90s. Here it is. At a CD-busting length of over two and a half hours, this 40-track double-disc set encapsulates Streisand's recording career in chronological order from her 1963 debut album to 1999. (Two previously unreleased tracks sound like outtakes from her later album projects. "Someday My Prince Will Come" probably got left off of A Love Like Ours, while the gospel-tinged "You'll Never Walk Alone" must have been intended for Higher Ground.) Intelligently picking signature performances from her best and most popular albums, it largely eschews a raft of singles that got into the bottom half of the Top 40, but leaves out only one Top Ten hit, "What Kind of Fool." The singer's versatility and her ability to impose her immediately identifiable vocal style on a variety of material are emphasized in recordings that range from Broadway show tunes to disco. A collection like this has been needed for a long time as a gateway to Streisand's bountiful, indeed overwhelming, catalog. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
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