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Barbara Streisand's Greatest Hits, Volume 2
Barbra Streisand

Columbia 35679
Released: December 1978
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 46
Certified 4x Platinum: 10/26/84

Barbra StreisandBarbra Streisand's first Greatest Hits album, released in February 1970, may have been a bit premature. While the singer/actress's first nine albums, released from 1963 to 1966, all made the top 10 of the album chart, Streisand didn't enjoy as much success on the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, "People," which reached number five in 1964, was her only single to break into the top 40 prior to "Stoney End" in 1970.

Barbra Streisand's Greatest Hits Volume 2, however, lived up to its title. The album, which includes songs recorded from 1972 through 1978, features Streisand's first three Number One singles -- "The Way We Were," "Love Theme from 'A Star Is Born'," and "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," a duet with Neil Diamond. It also chronicles Streisand's success on the silver screen, as two of those three hits were from blockbuster films starring Streisand. She did not appear in the 1978 film The Eyes of Laura Mars, but she did have a hit with the theme song, which reached number 21.

Some of the most memorable songs among the other tracks on Greatest Hits Volume 2 were culled from the 1972 album Live Concert at the Forum, which reached number 19. The concert was a benefit for Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. Streisand originally recorded the song "Where You Lead," written by Carole King and Toni Stern, in 1971 on Barbra Joan Streisand, the second album she recorded with producer Richard Perry. It was only appropriate that she performed it at the McGovern concert at the Forum, since King was also on the bill. Instead of doing the song straight, however, Streisand turned it into a medley with Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham's "Sweet Inspiration."

At the concert, Streisand also performed "Stoney End," but initially she was hesitant to perform the song live. "She was afraid to do it, because it had been two years, approximately, since it was a hit," recalls Perry. "She didn't think people would remember it. She wanted to do 'Second Hand Rose' instead." The producer tried to talk Streisand into performing the song and even volunteered to write the lyrics, which Streisand had forgotten, on the floor. "So I was there on my hands and knees for about an hour scrawling in chalk verses to 'Stoney End.'" At the concert, Streisand asked the crowd if they wanted to hear the song; the response was overwhelming. "She performed it brilliantly," says Perry.

The studio version of "Stoney End," included on the 1971 album of the same name and on Greatest Hits Volume 2, holds a special place in Perry's heart. "That was the first session we had ever done together and it was the longest session in the history of the Los Angeles Musicians Union. It started at 7 P.M. and ended at 5:30 A.M., and not one string player complained." The song was cut with a full orchestra and background singers live in the studio. "'Stoney End' was the third track that we cut that night and it was the one that was the riskiest, but also the one that had the most potential to become a hit." Although the song wasn't in the Streisand mold, the singer was able to adapt the material. "She came there to sing," says Perry. "When we did the first take, it was a real thrilling moment."

Streisand undoubtedly had another thrilling moment when Greatest Hits Volume 2 became her fourth Number one album in its sixth week on the chart.

- Craig Rosen, The Billboard Book of Number One Albums, 1996.

Bonus Reviews!

Streisand's first greatest hits set since 1970 is dominated by recent material: side one consists entirely of 1977-78 singles. The cuts range from the rhythmic "Stoney End," Streisand's first rock outing in 1971, to a pair of Oscar-winning songs which exemplify the singer's easy listening side. The full-bodied arrangements by the likes of Gene Page, Nick DeCaro and Larry Carlton define the instrumental back-drops, while Streisand's far-reaching vocals amaze and awe. Best cuts: "Evergreen," "The Way We Were," "Sweet Inspiration" "Where You Lead," "Stoney End," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."

- Billboard, 1978.

The best of Barbra in the 70s. * * * * *

- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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