Billboard / page five
December 10, 1983
The Legend of Barbra Streisand (continued)
BARBRA STREISAND ON THE CHARTS
Spinning Gold and Platinum
DURING ONE WEEK IN 1964, THERE WERE THREE Barbra Streisand albums in the Top 10 on Billboard's Top 100 albums list. Sixteen years later, Streisand enjoyed her greatest selling success, "Guilty." This incredible staying power is even more impressive when one realizes that Streisand's first dozen albums were composed of traditional standards by composers such as Harold Arlen, George Gershwin and Jule Styne. She is the only singer in history who has been able to make such a phenomenally successful transition from standards to pop-and even, in several highly successful instances, to disco and rock. Just a cursory glance at Streisand's chart career reveals a legacy of tremendous accomplishment. Of the 35 albums on which Barbra is featured prominently, 28 have reached the Top 20, 19 have entered the Top 10, six have reached the pinnacle of No. 1, 27 have gone gold (at least once) and seven of those have reached platinum (at least once).
Another clear indication of Streisand's extraordinary adaptability is in the area of singles sales. During the '60s, 03 when she was one of America's most potent musical forces, she had just two bonafide hit singles: "Happy Days Are Here Again" (1963) and "People" (1964). It was six years before she had another hit, and it was her first rocker "Stoney End," which reached No. 10. But it wasn't until 1973 that Streisand had her first No. 1 single, "The Way We Were." Since then, she has been a consistent chart topper, with four No. I singles between 1976 ("Evergreen") and 1980 ("Woman in Love").
Barbra Streisand's recordings have received 30 major Grammy nominations, and have won the award 10 times. Barbra was chosen Best Female Vocalist three years in a row between 1964 and 1966, and once in 1976 for "Evergreen." In 1981, she and Barry Gibb won a Grammy for "Best Pop Vocal by a Duo or Group" for the single "Guilty."
With the soundtrack to "Yentl," Barbra Streisand returns with an album of original music after an absence of three years. The incredibly beautiful songs and performances on the album seem sure to make it another Streisand blockbuster. And with rumors of Streisand collaborations with Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and/or Stevie Wonder abounding, the best of Streisand may be yet to come.
STREISAND, 'SHE'S AS CLOSE TO PERFECT AS SHE CAN BE
An Interview with Producer Gary Klein
(Gary Klein has produced the Streisand Albums "Superman, " "Songbird" and "Wet.)
JS: HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME INVOLVED WITH BARBRA?
GK: I was a staff producer for CBS, and Charles Koppelman of the Entertainment Company asked me to talk to Barbra and Jon Peters about "Butterfly," her 1974 album which Jon produced. Both Charles and I didn't think it was up to Barbra's standards, and he wanted me to go out to California, sit down with them and tell them why.
JS: Talk about trial by fire.
GK: Oh, yes! It was very difficult to meet her for the first time to criticize an album that her boyfriend-who is sitting right there-had produced. But I went over the album cut by cut, and I was very specific about what I thought was wrong with it, and they knew that I knew what I was talking about, so I gained their respect.
JS: What was the first time you worked with her?
GK: On "Streisand Superman," in 1977. It was her first album since "A Star Is Born," and the concept was to keep Barbra Streisand on the pop charts, not have people think of her as just an MOR artist.
JS: Were you surprised by any aspect of working with her?
GK: I had heard that she was a perfectionist, and brilliant, and you better be on your toes. She puts out 100 %, and you better be prepared to do the same. That's exciting, because in a situation like that you push each other. There are times when she does push too hard, but only because she's trying so hard. Once we were working late, until three or four in the morning, and one of the string guys walked out. She felt bad, but it was just her way of working. A lot of people don't want to put out as much as she does. But they lose, because she
can bring out a lot more in a person than anyone else.
She works herself the hardest. Sometimes I have to stop her. She'd say, "I feel fine, my voice is fine," but I could see on the meters that she was losing steam - if she sang for another hour, she'd hurt her voice.
JS: What else impressed you about her?
GK: She doesn't think in terms of conventions. She tries to achieve things in unconventional ways. Sometimes I'd tell her that we could achieve something in a certain way and she wanted to do it a different way, just to try it, to experiment. She has a memory that should be in Guinness. She remembers every vocal on every track-she doesn't write it down. She'd call me and mention track so-and-so and I'd be scrambling for my notes so I'd know what she was talking about.
A lot of people resent her because she's almost always right. And a guy with a big ego, if he's proven wrong, he gets wounded.
JS: Does the fact that she's also an actress affect her singing?
GK: She sees herself as an actress, not a singer. She looks at a lyric as a script. She said to me, "If you give me a great script I'll give you a great performance," And she has a lot to say about lyrics. It's murder to find material good enough for her. I love it when she gets a great song from someone like Marvin Hamlisch, and she listens and makes a suggestion about the lyric and its so much better - a great song improved!
And musically, she's so gifted. She's got an ear that's frightening. She's as close to perfect as she can be. She can hear one violin out of 20 that's out of tune.
JS: But she isn't always perfect, is she?
GK: Of course not. And she wants to be told when she's not as good as she can be. People are afraid to tell her the truth because she's BARBRA STREISAND. But I never felt intimidated by her, and we got along for that reason. She knew I was never gonna stroke her. But she does have to have an explanation when you tell her something. Because she'll give you one.
JS: Would you like to work with her again?
GK: Very much so. But she goes from person to person. She likes to stretch and do new things, and utilize other people's talent. She changes with the times without compromising her own identity. They broke the mold whey they made her. She's the most multi-talented person. She's one of a kind.
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