In her lengthy career, Barbra Streisand has never shown much inclination to share the spotlight. In the movies, she must endure a leading man, but in her recordings, she has gone it alone for the most part. In 1978, however, a disc jockey edited together her and Neil Diamond's recordings of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," and she and Diamond quickly cut a real duet, resulting in a number one hit. Thereafter, she cannily coaxed others into sharing the microphone, resulting in chart singles with Donna Summer, Barry Gibb, Kim Carnes, former boyfriend Don Johnson, Bryan Adams, and Celine Dion, and album tracks with Johnny Mathis, Michael Crawford, and Vince Gill. The material mostly consisted of mediocre adult contemporary ballads that were outshone by the star power of the singers. This album collects all those duets, plus a couple of newly recorded mediocre adult contemporary ballads sung with Barry Manilow and Josh Groban, and a few stray tracks from the 1960s and early '70s when Streisand joined another singer. Her unsuitability to the duet format is repeatedly evidenced, as she seems virtually incapable of shutting up when her partner is trying to take a solo, invariably humming in the background to draw attention back to herself. The only real exception to this rule is the version of "I've Got a Crush on You" recorded for Frank Sinatra's own Duets album, a track Streisand did not control. Naturally, the best performances occur when she is paired with a singer who is more than just a cipher -- Sinatra, Ray Charles, or Judy Garland, the latter two in TV performances. Then, of course, there's the medley of "One Less Bell to Answer" and "A House Is Not a Home" on which she finally finds the perfect duet partner, her overdubbed self!
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