17 September 2006 | EUyeshima
An Elegant and Somewhat Politically Verbose Streisand Showcases Her Unparalleled Vocal Prowess
Back in 1986, Barbra Streisand was already starting to wean off her movie career in favor of her pet political causes. As an avid Democrat, she decided to perform an exclusive concert to raise funds for seven Democratic U.S. Senatorial candidates preparing for the November elections. In her true perfectionist fashion, she decided to hold the concert at her Malibu ranch, only invite 500 couples at a whopping $5,000 per couple and sign with HBO to have it all air as a TV special. Such was her clout at the time. Now that she has performed live several times since then (the latest to be a tour to start next month), this DVD seems marginally less indispensable, but it's still a more-than-worthy addition to any Streisand collection nonetheless.
With a few additions like a vintage recording of her exclusive invitation, Robin Williams' full comic monologue (not terribly funny) and a new introduction Streisand filmed just for this release, the special arrives in this 20th anniversary DVD. Dressed in all-white, she is accompanied by a small eight-piece band, probably her smallest back-up ensemble onstage. Her program begins with an elegant "Somewhere" as she emerges from a cloud of smoke. Most of her signature hits are here and performed impeccably, though she has a tendency to interject altruistic comments periodically like sharing her world view of fragile ecosystems and the Chernobyl nuclear fallout disaster in the middle of "People".
On the upside, there is a nice tribute to Judy Garland with touching renditions of "Over the Rainbow" and from the 1954 "A Star Is Born", "A New World". There is a reunion of sorts with Barry Gibb on the two biggest duet hits from 1980's "Guilty", the title tune and "What Kind of Fool". Her best performance is probably her cover of "Send in the Clowns", fresh off "The Broadway Album", though we don't get a chance to hear the parody version she performed afterward when she ridicules the Republicans in office at the time. It all ends with a rousing "America the Beautiful", which she would later sing at the 1992 Clinton inaugural ball. It's nice to have this lovely albeit brief concert for posterity with Streisand in fulsome voice and at the cusp of her political consciousness.