Barbra Streisand

The Second Barbra Streisand Album

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Barbra Streisand's second album might have been subtitled "The Harold Arlen Album," asince Arlen is the composer of five of the 11 selections, including four of five on the first side. Streisand had demonstrated an affinity for Arlen's work on her first album, singing "A Sleepin' Bee." Here, she is most impressive on "Down With Love," a 1937 song with a lyric by E.Y. Harburg that lampoons the love songs of other writers of the period. Never given to singing the Gershwins and other classic pop writers, Streisand relishes the chance to condemn them, and she sings with a vengeance. But in general, Arlen's bluesy music, combined with the second-rate contemporary material on the second side, makes Streisand's second album less accomplished than her first. In fact, where the first album, with its surprising arrangements, surprising song choices, humor, and emotionalism, reconceived pop singing for a new singer, the second album, with it sameness of tone, surrenders to the old mold. On an already unlikely piece of material like Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II's "Lover, Come Back to Me," arranger/conductor Peter Matz uses an updated, up-tempo Billy May-style arrangement (with bongos). Streisand gives it a bravura reading, but she is competing against the arrangement rather than riding over it. The Second Barbra Streisand Album was typically well sung, but instead of continuing the innovations of her debut, Streisand seemed to be trying simply to consolidate her triumph, and it was a bit too early for that.

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