Barbra Streisand is dipping into her personal collection for the first official release of her legendary 1962 set at a Greenwich Village nightclub for the upcoming Barbra Streisand – Live at the Bon Soir. The album, due out on Nov. 4, was previewed on Friday (Sept. 23) with a live take on the 1953 Arthur Hamilton-penned torch song “Cry Me a River,” first made famous by Julie London’s version in 1955, then later released as the first single from Streisand’s 1963 self-titled debut album.
“I had never even been in a nightclub until I sang in one,” Streisand writes in the liner notes about the set recorded when she was 20-years-old. “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, Live at the Bon Soir.”
According to a release, the new mixes were supervised by Streisand and Grammy-winning engineer Jochem van der Saag, who culled it from tapes of her sets at the club on Nov. 4, 5, and 6, 1962. The recordings — originally intended to comprise the singer’s Columbia Records debut — were shelved in favor of 1963’s The Barbra Streisand Album, which contained studio versions of 11 of the songs from the star’s nightclub set.
The live collection with 24 newly mixed tracks from the original masters, was produced by Streisand, Martin Erlichman and Jay Landers will feature song-by-song descriptions of each song. It will be released as a 180-gram 2LP set and SACD, with the CD version packaged in a lavish hardcover book with a 32-page booklet with historical notes, photos and a message from Streisand; the vinyl set from Impex Records will come with a 12-page booklet.
“The science of recording has made quantum leaps since 1962. Grammy Award-winning engineer, Jochem van der Saag, has subtly solved audio issues in ways his predecessors could hardly have fathomed,” writes Landers in the liner notes. “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 adds that the moment the producers played the tapes through modern, state-of-the-art speakers they realized the challenges faced by original engineers Phil Ramone and Ad “Pappy” Theroux. “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,” he writes. “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.”
The collection spotlights selections from a who’s-who of legendary songwriters, including Harold Arlen, Leonard Bernstein, Oscar Hammerstein II, Cole Porter, Frank Loesser and Rodgers & Hart.
In the “River” performance, Streisand chats it up with the intimate audience, telling them, “I wish there were another word beside thank you… I mean, like, anything, you know,” she says, before introducing the crowd to her boyfriend, “soup,” as her bass-player teases out the song’s bouncy groove. The set found the star backed by a sizzling quartet of veterans, including guitarist Tiger Haynes, bassist Averill Pollard, drummer John Cresci and pianist Peter Daniels.
The album will be Streisand’s first release since her 2021 rarities album Release Me 2.
Listen to Streisand sing “Cry Me a River” and see the full tracklist below.
Barbra Streisand – 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)