1980, Music

Guilty (1980) by Barbra Streisand

I feel like I grew up with people making fun of these two. I was still an impressionable teenager when I first encountered Mecha-Streisand. And, though the only Barry Gibb impersonation I can think of is relatively recent (i.e. I was an adult when I saw it), I feel like I must have been exposed to one earlier. Their voices are both eminently mockable in part due to their distinctness and in part due to their fame compared to other distinct voices. It’s hard to take them seriously when they are literally duetting together and you can think of is parody.

I guess the material is pretty catchy. I would expect nothing less from the Gibbs, frankly. (Barry co-produced and co-wrote, Robin co-wrote most of it, Maurice co-wrote like one track, I think.) Certainly I can imagine some of these songs as Bee Gees songs, and succeeding a little more. I can imagine others succeeding more in other hands. It’s definitely not the catchiness of the songs that is the issue.

Even when Barry isn’t duetting, He’s often very present in the backing vocals (sometimes mixed higher than Babs’ lead!) which makes the whole thing feel like a bit of a duet. And it’s just so hard to shake the urge to make fun of them. I mean, this thing is so affected.

Everything is very late ’70s and very low key (aside from Streisand’s voice…). Even when there’s a vaguely disco-ish beat the tempo is slow. This is a record that is very heavy on ballads and remarkably low on energy given the vocal noodling that is going on. I get cranky about ’80s production but this one is full on late ’70s pop disco production. Except that, you know, it’s so soft and down-tempo. It’s one of those hugely successful albums which makes me wonder about the purchasers of it. (My step dad was one, so I should really ask him “Why this album?”)

I like certain things in music and this record has very few of those things. Moreover, it has two sings who are really easy to make fun of. I want to be crueler but I can’t muster the enthusiasm.

Giant shoulder shrug.


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