The year was 1980. I had just graduated high school and the soundtrack of my life consisted of John Williams’ stellar sequel for The Empire Strikes Back, the song-driven soap opera of Fame, and the unlikely successful pairing of Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb for the classic Guilty album. While Streisand’s voice has continued to gain in body and depth, her later albums lack spontaneity and each successive release features this legendary singer further and further entombed in her own secluded world, rather than enshrined as she should be.
Not so with Guilty. What could have easily have turned into the ultimate in pop Muzak instead became a bona fide classic and arguably qualifies as Streisand’s finest pop album. Flawlessly written and produced by Gibb, the album has a sound unlike any other Streisand effort. To this day, even though I can still sing many of the lyrics and certain inner musical lines have lodged themselves in my brain, this unique collaboration sounds just as fresh today as it did 28 years ago. And the album’s closing track, “Make It Like a Memory,” remains one of Streisand’s lesser-known, yet greatest, tracks (and that’s not even counting the magnificent final two minutes of instrumental playoff!).
On the album’s 25th anniversary in 2005, a remastered version was released as well as the album’s followup, Guilty Pleasures. Though the later albums has its moments, it could not succeed in recapturing the magic of the earlier album. One thing is for sure, Guilty is no longer a guilty pleasure. It’s simply a great album.