By Steven M. Housman
Guilty On All Counts Including Extreme Pleasure
Streisand Releases 25th Anniversary Edition In Dual Disc Format!
Barbra Streisand: Guilty The 25th Anniversary Edition
Release Date: August 30, 2005
On September 23, 1980, Barbra Streisand released Guilty, the most successful and arguably the most satisfying pop album of her long and legendary recording career. The album spawned three top ten singles; the first release, “Woman In Love,” topped the pop charts for three weeks in October 1980, the second and third singles were smash duets with collaborator Barry Gibb, the infectious mid-tempo “Guilty” and the power ballad “What Kind of Fool.” The fact that this celebrated duo teamed up and made history is almost as interesting as the music he wrote and produced and the songs she performed. Upon its initial release in 1980, "Guilty" was quickly certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, and, within two months, achieved Platinum status. It has gone on to be certified 5x's Platinum, with sales exceeding 5,000,000 copies in the U.S. alone and 20 million worldwide. It is one of Streisand's record-breaking tally of 49 Gold, 30 Platinum and 13 Multi-Platinum albums. According to the RIAA, she is the industry's #1 best selling female recording artist... and the only female in the top ten.
On August 30, 2005, 25 years later, Guilty is being re-released not only in LPCM format, but also as a Dual Disc. Side One will be 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 twelve new songs from her upcoming September 20 release, tentatively titled Guilty Pleasure, 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 September release (a review will be in an upcoming issue), 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 with 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 twenty 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.
Some interesting facts about the album:
Guilty was the most-nominated album of Streisand's career scoring the Top 5 categories at the 24th Annual Grammy Awards in 1981, including Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo or Group "Guilty" (Duet With Barry Gibb) WINNER, Album of the Year Guilty, Record of the Year "Woman In Love," Song of the Year "Woman In Love" (Songwriters Award) and Best Pop Female Vocal Performance "Woman In Love."
© 2005 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.