03 June 2008

Guilty Pleasures

Define Guilty Pleasures.
by Kristin Battestella

New Guilty CD, Guilty Pleasures is out, Kristin has pulled off another timely review-people are getting spoiled around here! I mean, even the click open CD case on Pleasures is cool! So its 25 years after Barry and Barbra Streisand’s Grammy winning Guilty, and what do they decide to do? Sequel!

Come Tomorrow is a fresh duet with brother Barry and leads off the 11 track set. According to the liner notes-complete with lyrics!-the lead track and all but the closing covers are credited to combinations of Barry and his two sons Ashley and Stephen. We will have to wait and see how things turn out, but I think Tomorrow would have been a better lead off single than Stranger in A Strange Land. Come Tomorrow is so smooth and jazzy, and everything retro is new and hip again. Barry’s Sinatra stylings show through the mood and melodies. His voice seems a little out of practice at first, but Barry’s ad-libs strengthen the ending. The chorus and the long awaited delivery of the title by Barbra are worth the wait. Not quite on the scale of Guilty, but a formidable opener.

I don’t know if its been this way for the rest of the world but Stranger In A Strange Land has been everywhere for me. The single’s video was available on the internet, and behind the scenes interviews and clues were on the 25th Anniversary re-issue of Guilty (we’ve commented here .) There was also a promo single CD with just the song available at Borders for 49 cents! (I of course got it for 33 cents with my employee discount!) But to the music! The hint of a war protest is evident, but Barbra’s delivery and Barry, Ashley, and Stephen’s lyrics keep things a toe before outright political statements. The video, available also on the dual disc, smartly focuses on back-in-black Babs; the montages of soldiers and homecoming footage is placed in the background. I’ve never liked my politics in my music, but the gang here pulls it off well. The tight rhymes, internal rhythms, and Barbra’s lingering notes keep the focus on the music.

Hideaway and It’s Up To You are penned by Barry and Ashley, as is Night Of My Life. Hideaway has a little bit of a Latino mambo feel in the beginning. Even when the lyrics turn more serious and Barbra belts it, it still sounds a little mariachi. The saxophone interlude is a nice treat. Hideaway doesn’t try too hard and sounds like a classic of old. I am curious if these old school nods are Barry’s contributions to the songs or if his boys really know their music? Both I think. Barbra’s “A little Rio de Janeiro” vocal rocks.

It’s Up To You is the shortest song presented, and although it is a sweet little tune, It is as yet unremarkable for me. The lyrics and rhythm feel more like a poem. They don’t sound like distinctly Gibb lyrics, but Ashley and Stephen’s fresh point of view are a nice 21st Century twist.

The first time I heard Night of My Life I was half way asleep and thought I was dreaming. Barbra Streisand can’t be doing techno! TECHNO! Complete with talk of merry-go-rounds and roller coasters! Barry provides backing vocals on most of the tracks and his falsetto on the chorus really reminded me of the Spirits era. And it sounds good. I think I like it. Can I admit that? At work no one believes me. It’s Techno! Barbra and the two female back-up singers really take the ending. You could play this in a club. Whoa!

Above The Law is the second duet presented and Barbra has a writing credit beside Barry and his boys. Barry’s voice does seem slightly weak compared to Barbra‘s, but whose doesn’t? Law isn’t so much a duet as 60/40. In the video I love the way Baz closes his eyes and gives the sweet lyrics his personal spin. Soul Barry appears briefly, and he sounds good. Law is a bit too similar to both Come Tomorrow and Hideaway. Maybe it’s because I’ve really only heard her sing or seen her sing in movies, but darling Barbra’s pointing and head shaking antics during the videos are not Oscar.

Without Your Love is again credited to just Barry and Ashley and is the second shortest song behind It’s Up To You. About halfway thru Love kicks it up a notch to Barbra’s Broadway sound of old. I can see her singing on the movie set roof tops again, but like It’s Up To You, perhaps an unnecessary track. Is that mean?

All The Children is an intriguing tune. It’s got a great beat, but what point are they trying to make in the lyrics? Kids rock?! Music can end world hunger? I don’t know. Barry’s echoes are great though. The tone is slightly dark, and maybe this song would have been a better lead for Robin or Maurice if it had been a Bee Gees song. This one is growing on me already.

Golden Dawn is the kinky tune. I don’t care what it is about, with a title like that, I say it’s the kinky song. Barbra takes the suave lyrics and makes them rico suave-even though my favorite part is a French line and rhyme! A little too much more of the same Without Your Love styling but isn’t easy listening what Barbra is really like without Gibbness?

Our Love Don’t Throw It All Away is of course the same Bee Gees tune of old penned by Baz with Blue Weaver. I am curious as to how this cover came about but the words are still incredible. As nice as the other tracks are, Our Love still blows everything away. Barry’s echoing and Babs belts almost own this song, and the music is almost exactly the same as it was 28 years ago. I’ll be dang the ending is good. Maybe B and B’s next collaboration could be an entire album of Babs singing Gibb covers. I’d buy it! Our Love is proof of the Brother’s Gibb’s music immortality.

Letting Go is not as familiar to outsiders (those being non-Gibbers) but this is also a cover written in 1986 and found later on Barry’s Hawks album. The slow tune was a standout then, and in the video Barbra says she loved the song enough to do it. That’s a good enough explanation for me. 80) The timing and delivery is excellent. Barbra delivers in the same style as The Love Inside, but instead of the booming production, its her and a piano. Barbra, a piano, and a story song. What else do you need?

This fancy new dual disc format on the flip side of the CD is where all the video treats lie. Of the four videos I think I like Hideaway the best. The interview is more extensive than the preview on the Guilty Anniversary edition, but the conversation is mixed in with the videos. I was expecting something like real music videos with production et all, but they are mostly just band sessions. What no photo gallery?! Barbra wears a different black outfit every segment.

Guilty Pleasures is just that for Barbra Streisand fans and Gibb enthusiasts alike. My only sadness again is that the trio of Barry, Ashley, and Stephen have seemingly replaced the Barry, Robin, and Maurice Brothers Gibb of old. The new boys have great skill, and I’m sure Barry is as proud a papa (and Grandpapa!) as ever. To put it mildly, Guilty Pleasures is ‘decent’. To gloat on Guilty Pleasures is to say it is an ‘incredible collaboration of historical proportions!’ Still, I miss the magic of the ‘triplets’.

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