10 indispensable Barbra Streisand recordings

Tim Smith
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Not saying you'll agree with me, but I think these are 10 of Streisand's greatest recordings.

No two Barbra Streisand fans will arrive at an identical list of her great recordings, but I think there can be widespread agreement that these 10, listed chronologically, are priceless.

"Happy Days Are Here Again" from "The Barbra Streisand Album" (1963): Streisand's first trademark performance, an ironic, sardonic, unsettling treatment of a peppy Depression-era song. Later versions lost this edge.

"Lover Come Back to Me" from "The Second Barbra Streisand Album" (1963): Encapsulates the singer's early belting side and her uncanny way of totally deconstructing a song. (For another brilliant example, try "I Wish You Love" from the 1966 album "Je m'appelle Barbra.")

"Who Are You Now?" from the original Broadway cast recording of "Funny Girl" (1964): Cut from the movie, this haunting ballad deserves to be as well known as "People." It couldn't be sung more movingly.

"One Kiss" from "Color Me Barbra" (1966): An inspired arrangement of a 1920s Sigmund Romberg operetta number inspires intimate, highly poetic singing.

"Starting Here, Starting Now" from "Color Me Barbra" (1966): The whole Streisand singer-actress phenomenon condensed into three electrifying minutes.

"My Man" from soundtrack of "Funny Girl" (1968): Boldly recorded live on film, this account manages to surpass the vivid studio version. The first hesitant measures are beyond poignant, the big finish beyond devastating.

"I'll Be Home" from "Stoney End" (1971): Streisand's various moves into rock and soul haven't always felt natural, but this unadorned version of the gentle Randy Newman song is thoroughly persuasive and hypnotic. (Just as good is her account of Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," with the composer at the keyboard, recorded in 1970, but not issued until the 2012 "Release Me" album.)

"If I Love Again" from the soundtrack of "Funny Lady" (1975): Accompanied only by piano (she should have made more recordings that way), Streisand burrows exquisitely into this bittersweet 1933 ballad.

"Isn't It a Pity" from "A Love Like Ours" (1999): A dreamy, gorgeously styled account of the Gershwin classic, a performance to equal all those song standards she memorably freshened more than 30 years earlier.

"Here's That Rainy Day" from "Love is the Answer" (2009): Conjuring up a bistro late at night, this laid-back interpretation, so effortlessly phrased and with a telling sigh just before the end, hits the spot. Note: This album has two versions of each song, one with orchestra, one with a small combo. Stick with the latter.

tim.smith@baltsun.com

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