Barbra Streisand has been in the news a fair amount lately, including this flap over political statements made on her website. I still don’t get why anyone gives a fig about what entertainers have to say about politics: I don’t care what politicians have to say about entertainment either.
Returning to her primary field, Barbra has a career-spanning collection of duets coming out this month:
- Duets will feature 17 classic vocal collaborations from across five decades, plus two new tracks. From “I’ve Got A Crush On You” with Frank Sinatra and “Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again” with Judy Garland to “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with Neil Diamond and “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” with Donna Summer, the collection is a must for any Streisand fan.
The two new duets recorded for the project are “I Won’t Be The One To Let Go” with Barry Manilow and “All I Know Of Love” with Josh Groban.
My pal Gary Klein produced “No More Tears” and “My Heart Belongs to Me” and three albums for Streisand. In the mid ’70s, Streisand’s then-boyfriend Jon Peters was producing the album that turned out to be ButterFly. Columbia A&R chief Charles Koppelman asked Klein to critique the work in progress. Klein determined that the album was most certainly not happening. Koppelman asked Klein to come with him to Streisand’s ranch in Malibu to explain why so.
When they arrived, Klein recalls, “Barbra asked me, with her long fingernail pointing at me, ‘Who are you? What’s your name? What do you do?’ Barbra and Jon were on a bed listening to what had been recorded for the album on a huge sound system. Charles said, ‘Gary is going to tell you what’s going on,’ and he played track one. I criticized it constructively, and did the same thing for each track, mentioning specifically the weaknesses of the players.”
“I asked who was playing on the tracks,” he continues, “and Peters said, ‘Oh baby, they’re the best in town.’ Barbra asked who they were, and Peters didn’t know anyone’s name. Barbra said, ‘Gary continue,’ and she started to trust me.”
Klein ended up producing three of Streisand’s best pop albums: Streisand Superman, Songbird, Wet; and the classic No. 1 singles “My Heart Belongs To Me,” and (with Donna Summer) “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).”
Klein recalls the “Tears” sessions. “There were too many divas for the room. They started off recording together, and then they recorded individually, trying to top each other. When we were almost finished Barbra said, ‘What do I need this for? I don’t want to do it anymore.’ I finally convinced her to finish by telling her that this was the way to end the disco era on a high note.”
Working with Streisand was rewarding but at times problematic. “She’s the greatest singer I’ve ever heard, but she can be difficult. She knows what she wants and sometimes isn’t very diplomatic about explaining it. Barbra also keeps an eye (and ear) on everything. She is always testing to make sure that you know what you are doing. Although she was afraid to let anyone take too much control away from her.”