Barbra Streisand. Does she really need any introduction? Of course not. And because she’s someone who’s known more for being insulted on South Park and having a distinctive nose than she is for her music, I’m automatically sympathetic towards her. I resisted the urge to be cruel in this review because frankly, she’s been insulted before and I can’t really see any reason to add to the quagmire of anti-Barbra sentiment out there. No, I’m going to be good and focus on the positives in Duets. The concept here is to repackage classic Barbra tracks (duets, obviously) with a couple of new recordings and sell millions of copies. Sounds simple enough, and it is — there aren’t many surprises. It’s a shame: an edgy vocal outing with someone a little less safe than Barry Manilow would have been great. But no matter; we still get Neil Diamond, Bryan Adams, Celien Dion, Judy Garland… and of course, both Barrys (Gibb and Manilow). Who can do mundane better than that lineup can?
Okay, that’s harsh. I actually found most of this disc really quite pleasant; nothing I’d listen to of my own accord, but inoffensive and pleasingly arranged. Streisand can really sing — she’s endured because of more than the delight so many take in mocking her. Some tracks rise above ordinary — notably, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and the Burt Bacarach/Hal David-written “One Less Bell to Answer” — and there’s enough variety to keep things moving. She’s very good at what she does; a bit of a guilty pleasure, but if you can ignore the boring bits and forget the Barbra-stigma then this is a nice addition to the “classically corny” section of your CD rack.
Barbra Streisand: http://www.barbrastreisand.com