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Barbra Streisand in the 1960s: seriously, she was cool!

If you think of Barbra Streisand purely as a grande dame of music, reliably pumping out syrupy ballads and cheesy love songs, may I kindly suggest that you take a look at her early work. Now a byword for middle-of-the-road respectability and wealthy sophistication, in the early days Barbra made a feature of her kooky 'otherness' and humble beginnings. She started as a nightclub singer, before moving on to musicals and recording. Her early albums contain a huge range of musical styles, from crooning jazz to belting bluesy numbers, silly novelty numbers and sweet, sparse ballads. 


After making a number of appearances on television shows (including a legendary duet with Judy Garland - see below), she began to produce her own television specials, featuring a range of (often bizarre) skits. In 1968 she put on a free concert in Central Park and 135,000 people turned up. Later in 1968 she made her film début in Funny Girl, winning the Best Actress Academy Award, which she accepted in a see-through pant-suit! Yep, long before Cher and the Kardashians, Barbra was shocking the world in gauze and sequins.

It's difficult to find early footage of Barbra, but the videos below should give you a taste. Her 1960s albums are available on Spotify; I'd recommend starting with her first two, recorded when she was just 21, The Barbra Streisand Album and The Second Barbra Streisand Album (clearly she wasn't wasting creative energy on titles), and then moving on to the live recording of A Happening In Central Park. The DVDs of the TV specials can be found on Amazon. 

Dive in, and in no time you'll be sprouting that phrase so beloved by music snobs: "yeah, but her early stuff was better..."

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