A live album by Barbra Streisand that had originally been planned as her debut album in 1962, “Barbra Streisand — Live at the Bon Soir,” will finally get a release, 60 years after it was first penciled in as her recorded bow.
At 24 songs, the set is undoubtedly much longer than what would have come out if Columbia had issued the live album six decades ago, as was first the plan. It comes out Nov. 4, 60 years to the week after Streisand’s shows at the Bon Soir club in Greenwich Village were recorded Nov. 4-6, 1962, just a little over a month after the 20-year-old theatrical sensation signed her Columbia deal.
Ultimately the idea of releasing a live album as her debut was scrapped in favor of a 1963 studio recording, “The Barbra Streisand Album,” that had her recording 11 songs that were part of her nightclub repertoire. That decision is hard to second-guess, as her first album went on to win the Grammy for album of the year.
Also very different with this release from what would have come out six decades ago: the mixes. The announcement for the album goes into problems with the original master tapes that engineers today have been able to fix with contemporary technology.
The state of the tracks was hardly a complete disaster, as a handful of the tracks had previously been released on Streisand’s 1991 “Just for the Record” boxed set, but those tunes are getting an all-new mix for this release along with the wealth of never-before-heard material.
A preview track, “Cry Me a River,” was released to DSPs Friday, as the full set went up for pre-order. It will be released digitally and on CD by Columbia Legacy and in special SACD and two-LP vinyl editions by Impex Records.
Impex’s SACD will arrive in a hardcover book package with a 32-page booklet with copious historical notes and photographs; the label’s two-LP set puts that material into a similar 12-page booklet and comes on 180-gram vinyl with a tip-on gatefold jacket.
The new mixes were supervised by Streisand and Grammy-winning engineer Jochem van der Saag. In his liner notes, co-producer Jay Landers says, “The science of recording has made quantum leaps since 1962. … Jochem van der Saag, has subtly solved audio issues in ways his predecessors could hardly have fathomed. Absolutely nothing about Barbra’s sterling vocals has been altered. However, the overall sonic picture has been greatly improved from the original tapes.”
Van der Saag is also quoted in the announcement from the liner notes, explaining, “The moment we played the tapes through modern state-of-the-art speakers, it was clear what the original engineers, Roy Halee and Ad ‘Pappy’ Theroux, had faced. The club’s acoustics were obviously not designed for recording, and there was a lot of leakage from the instruments into her vocal mic. If we wanted to lower the volume of the piano for example, the vocal volume would decrease, too. To give listeners ‘the best seat in the house,’ we used cutting-edge spectral editing technology, clarifying the true artistry of Barbra and her band.’”
Streisand penned a note for the album package, saying: “I had never even been in a nightclub until I sang in one. I sang two songs in a talent contest at a little club called the Lion and won, which led to being hired at a more sophisticated supper club around the corner called the Bon Soir, with an actual stage and a spotlight. The buzz that began at the Bon Soir led to a contract with Columbia Records in 1962, the start of a long association that continues to this day. The initial plan for my first album was to record it at the club, and these early tapes have been sleeping in my vault for six decades. I’m delighted to finally bring them out into the light and share what could have been my debut album.”
The track list for “LIve at the Bon Soir”:
1. Introduction by David Kapralik (Columbia Records)/My Name Is Barbra (Leonard Bernstein)
2. Much More (Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt)
3. Napoleon (Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg)
4. I Hate Music (Leonard Bernstein)
5. Right As The Rain (Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg)
6. Cry Me A River (Arthur Hamilton)
7. Value (Jeff Harris)
8. Lover, Come Back To Me (Oscar Hammerstein II/Sigmund Romberg)
9. Band Introductions
10. Soon It’s Gonna Rain (Harvey Schmidt/Tom Jones)
11. Come To The Supermarket (In Old Peking) (Cole Porter)
12. When The Sun Comes Out (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler)
13. Happy Days Are Here Again (Jack Yellen/Milton Ager)
14. Keepin’ Out Of Mischief Now (Andy Razaf/Thomas “Fats” Waller)
15. A Sleepin’ Bee (Harold Arlen/Truman Capote)
16. I Had Myself A True Love (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer)
17. Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart)
18. Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf? (Frank Churchill/Ann Ronell)
19. I’ll Tell The Man In The Street (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart)
20. A Taste Of Honey (Bobby Scott/Ric Marlow)
21. Never Will I Marry (Frank Loesser)
22. Nobody’s Heart Belongs To Me (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart)
23. My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms (Herman Ruby/Joseph Meyer)
24. I Stayed Too Long At The Fair (Billy Barnes)