1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 20

Guilty, by Barbara Streisand
Suggested by Sara-Jane Davies

Barbara Streisand is one of the top-selling recording artists of all time, so she must be doing something right. Personally, I know very little about her. I know she’s a top notch baddie in a couple of South Park episodes, and I also know she made some rather unsavoury statements regarding the abusive actions of her good friend Michael Jackson. Once I’ve listened to this album, will Babs become my guilty pleasure?

First, a word about the album’s cover. Barbara, clad in white against a white background, nuzzles into the manly chest of her erstwhile collaborator and everybody’s favourite Disco Lion, Barry Gibb. I guess they are supposed to be sultry and alluring, but it’s more saccharine than sexy, as if Hallmark Movies were doing Angie Watts and Dirty Den. It’s the early Eighties, so I guess I can let it slide.

Over nine breathless and formulaic love songs, two of which she shares with Jive Talkin’ Azlan, Barbara delivers a performance that is measured, level, and entirely forgettable. Each track slides into your ears with consummate ease, wanders around a little, then leaves without fuss or fanfare. It’s bland fare, the aural equivalent of boiled rice, as vanilla as a skip full of Carte D’Or.

You can’t have six decades of top-tier success, however, without doing something right, so perhaps this perceived beigeness is more a reflection of my tastes than Barbara’s talents. Each track is polished and produced, and while I may think the emotion feels piped in, like canned laughter to mask a terrible sitcom script, others may be charmed. 150 million records sold worldwide is a ridiculous number, and numbers don’t lie.

While none of the songs on this album kick me in the face and drag me to the dance floor, I suppose the duets add a little more spice to the dish. Both the title track Guilty and What Kind of Fool are standouts, proving the addition of Saturday Night Mufasa is nothing but gold.

Let’s put this one down to being Not For Me, and move on with our lives. I award this album 3/10, mainly for the production values. I’m sorry Babs, but I’m afraid you’re guilty of boring me senseless.

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