Picks and Pans Review: One Voice

updated 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Barbra Streisand

The liner notes read like Gandhi Goes Malibu. "I could never imagine myself wanting to sing in public again," explains Streisand. "But then I could never imagine, with all our advanced technology, the starvation of bodies and minds and the possibility of nuclear winters in our lives.... I feel I must sing again to do what I can to insure a safer and better world." Well, isn't that special? Last September Streisand invited some 500 friends to her Malibu homestead for a benefit billed as "her first full-length concert in 20 years." As a political statement this album is infuriatingly condescending, but as a recording of that performance it's a sensational souvenir. Yes, One Voice contains the pretentious patter that marred both the television presentation of the event and, for some spectators, the evening itself. When Streisand steps into the pulpit she is a cloying and annoying preacher, but when she steps up to the microphone she is a glorious voice. After the over-produced arrangements of her recent releases—The Broadway Album notwithstanding—it is a delight to hear her out of the studio. The woman sounds real for a change. On this compendium of 12 songs, most of them her popular hits, Streisand comes across relaxed and relaxing. And even if you dislike the polemics, you have to admire her pluck. She takes Judy Garland's signature song, Over the Rainbow, and reinvents it as a grown-up's daydream. She takes one of her own signature songs, Happy Days Are Here Again, and rejects her classic ironic interpretation for an optimistic rendition. Of course, the album is really a tease. It makes you want to see Streisand again live, particularly because she sounds so energized and challenged by an audience. You forgive her sermonettes when she sings. After all, Thoreau couldn't do justice to The Way We Were. (Columbia)

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