A classic live recording, but mediocre sound quality.
Robert Johnson | Richmond, KY USA | 06/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Barbra's sensational once-in-a-lifetime Central Park concert in front of an audience of over 130,000 people deserves a better presentation on compact disc. The first problem is that Barbra performed for two and half hours that night, yet only 37 minutes of the show are included on the album. Yes, I realize that this is as much of the show that would fit on a vinyl record in 1968, but I certainly feel that now (in the compact disc age) that the entire, full-length concert should be issued on two CDs. Another problem is this disc's passable, yet disappointing sound quality. The fault lies in the source tape, which Columbia Records recorded separately from CBS TV, who broadcasted the show on television. There is noticeable hissing and even some distortion present, which distracts from the intimacy of the show at times. Barbra's performance is outstanding and deserves to be heard in it's entirety with the best sound quality possible. I wish Columbia would get a hold of the CBS master tapes (which, though imperfect, are an improvement) and master a new disc from it. A HAPPENING, audio flaws and all, is definitely worth listening to because the concert is so terrific. However I would advise Streisand fans to consider hunting down the currently out-of-print CBS/Fox videocassette or the Pioneer laserdisc of the show. The video is also edited (to 55 minutes), but at least it offers the visuals and better sound quality as well."
A Happening in the True Sense of the Term...Streisand Captur
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 08/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Barbra Streisand took a weekend break from filming her screen debut, "Funny Girl", to come back to New York to give a free concert for over 135,000 attentive fans. Unlikely ever to happen again given the top dollar she is charging for her upcoming tour, the June 1967 performance was staged in Central Park's Sheep Meadow, probably among the first of the city's "happenings" led by then-Mayor Lindsay to encourage an urban revival. Always the trendsetter, Streisand led the way for others including Diana Ross, the Dave Matthews Band and the reunited Simon and Garfunkel to stage their own happenings in later years. I'm happy to report that the restoration effort behind the audio and visual quality of this TV special is quite stellar.
But nothing is more stellar than Streisand in her youthful, exuberant prime. The camera pans from the Manhattan skyline to the assembled crowd and finally her over "The Nearness of You". Looking particularly diaphanous in a pink sheath, she does a smashing "Down With Love", a highly theatrical "Cry Me a River", and one of her typically eccentric monologues from the sixties followed by one of my favorites among her rarities, "Value" (a ditty about Harold Mengert and his car). She ends the first act with a soaring rendition of "I Can See It". It's particularly amusing to see random shots of adoring spectators looking very much like sixties squares from Squaresville.
Returning for the second half in a sleeveless red print evening gown, Streisand evokes a sweet innocence to her classic version of "He Touched Me", which is then followed by an extended comedy bit about "a schloon for the gumpert". She swings into a languorous "I'm All Smiles" and then segues into a comic beatnik number, "Marty the Martian" ("hand in hand in hand in hand..."), accompanied by a sassy saxophone. The high point is a beautiful folk-sounding ballad, "Natural Sounds", in particular, when the wind picks up exactly when she mentions the wind in the song (an eerie coincidence Streisand points out in her 1987 video introduction). She gets amusingly hammy on her signature "Second Hand Rose" and then quite stentorian on her anthem, "People".
The climax comes with a strangely appropriate "Silent Night" (it was summer). With the camera dramatically panning back from her, Streisand ends the performance with a splendiferous "Happy Days Are Here Again". Because it was so darkly lit among the throngs, it's hard to fathom the real size of the audience in the days until the very end of the show. My one regret with the DVD is that there seems to be a missed opportunity to include the entire concert, which included eleven other songs she performed that night. Even though the archival footage apparently exists, I'm just happy they have been able to capture what was quite obviously a special evening."
Streisand's best live concert album
California Greg | 05/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Listing highlights is pointless. Have your pick - A killer version of "Cry Me A River". Streisand showing off her ditzy,kooky Brooklyn side on the Folk Monologue. Superb renditions of "He Touched Me" and "People". And the masterpieces - Barbra's incomparable, unique singing voice at its very best on "Love Is Like A Newborn Child", "Natural Sounds" and "Silent Night". Her vocals on "Natural Sounds" and "Silent Night" send shivers down my spine every time I listen to them. Her best concert performance -if only because she still had that relaxed light touch and her command of the audience is a wonder to behold!!! Her acclaimed concert performances in 1993-94 lack that spontaneity - she's become way too careful and studied :-("
Barbra's best live album
charon-the-oarsman | West Hollywood, CA United States | 05/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Recorded in 1967 when she was at her artistic zenith and still a funny girl, this remains Barbra's best live recording."