Picks and Pans Review: Just for the Record...

updated 11/11/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/11/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

Barbra Streisand

This four-disc anthology, a 33-year portrait of the artist from young sensation to mature singer, begins in 1955 with the 13-year-old renting a Manhattan recording studio to pipe out a very creditable, wistful "You'll Never Know." Soon enough, of course, the world would know.

It would know the awkward girl with the New Yawk accent as thick as corned beef on rye, the girl with the big nose and the even bigger, incredibly supple and vibrant voice. Just for the Record...follows Streisand through early TV appearances on The Jack Paar Show and The Garry Moore Show, on which she sang "Happy Days Are Here Again" as a ballad and an anthem; at her first appearance on Broadway as the beleaguered secretary Miss Marmelstein in I Can Get It for You Wholesale, and her triumph as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.

Both her voice and her choice of material were at their rapturous best in the '60s. Her approach to such songs as "He Touched Me," "Anyplace I Hang My Hat Is Home" and the exultant "Starting Here, Starting Now" was fresh and direct, minus the mannerisms and excessive flourishes that would dog later recordings.

Just as Sinatra had no business wasting his time and gifts on nonsense like "Somethin' Stupid" and "Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," Streisand had no business mouthing rock palaver like "Guilty," or worse, "Evergreen" and worst "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"—all present and accounted for here, to say nothing of several mushy melodies from Yentl.

Thankfully, Streisand returned to her roots with The Broadway Album in 1985. "I'm the greatest star," she had sung in Funny Girl. Based on most of the evidence here, it's a tough claim to dispute. (Columbia)

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