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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In praise of Barbra Streisand's "Stoney End"

I'm recording a programme with Johnnie Walker this week and one of the records we're talking about is Barbra Streisand's "Stoney End". Yesterday morning when the sun was out I took a stroll with that one track playing again and again through my headphones. Boy, it's a jewel.

Sometimes proper singers can seem too good for pop music. I'm still haunted by memories of Ella Fitzgerald's baroque versions of Beatles songs. You can see why they do it. They think the songs are a bit beneath them. To my ears Laura Nyro's songs never seem to fly in her own versions.

But Streisand's "Stoney End" is a joy. In 1971 they made a lot of fuss about the fact that the album was produced by Richard Perry and included songs by all the hip young writers. That all helps but it's her genius as a singer that brings home the bacon. She goes into the chorus of "Stoney End" four times. Each time it's more  exhilarating than the time before.