Barbra Streisand's abandonment of Broadway was the worst thing that happened to the theater in the '60s. Her retreat from theater music on record was less of a loss, if only because she had tended to focus on second-rank composers and obscure songs by first-rate ones, while practically ignoring, for example, Stephen Sondheim. When she returned to show songs in 1985, she reversed these failings. Now, the singer who had never done much with Rodgers & Hammerstein, Frank Loesser, George Gershwin, or Jerome Kern finally felt confident enough to take on "If I Loved You" from Carousel, "Adelaide's Lament" from Guys and Dolls, "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" from Showboat, and a medley from Porgy and Bess, and she did them well. Even better, on seven tracks with Sondheim's name on them, she proved the perfect intepreter of the most contemporary and intellectual of Broadway's writers, whether singing his lyrics over the music of Leonard Bernstein (another composer she'd largely neglected) from West Side Story or making the most of material drawn from shows like Company, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Sunday in the Park With George. Sondheim collaborated with Streisand, penning special lyrics for songs like "Putting It Together" and even his standard, "Send in the Clowns." The result was an album that repositioned some of Broadway's best in a pop context and showed that Streisand was still at her best when presenting the dramatically satisfying story songs of the theater. Apparently, many longtime fans agreed: At sales over three million, The Broadway Album was Streisand's most commercially successful album in five years.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Sunday in the Park with George, musical play|
|West Side Story, musical|
|Sweeney Todd, musical play|
|The King and I, musical|
|Porgy and Bess, opera|