Barbra Streisand Unearths ‘Live at Bon Soir’ Nightclub Recordings That Were Supposed to Be Her First Album – Rolling Stone

Barbra Streisand’s fabled run of 1962 shows at the Greenwich Village nightclub, Bon Soir, will be released as a new live album, Live at Bon Soir, on Nov. 4 via Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings. To tease the release, Streisand shared a powerhouse rendition of the Arthur Hamilton-penned song, “Cry Me a River.” 

Live at Bon Soir was recorded over three nights, Nov. 4 through Nov. 6, 1962: Streisand was just 20 years old, and she’d signed her first record deal with Columbia only a month earlier. The recordings were originally supposed to become Streisand’s debut album, but the tapes were ultimately shelved in favor of the 1963 studio effort, The Barbra Streisand Album, which went on to win several Grammys, including Album of the Year.

Live at Bon Soir fittingly arrives on the 60th anniversary of those shows. The album was pulled from the original master tapes — which have been sitting in Streisand’s archives for six decades — and Streisand produced the record alongside Martin Erlichman and Jay Landers. Getting the album ready for release, though, required some significant audio engineering: Bon Soir, unsurprisingly, was not set up for recording, and engineer Jochem van der Saag notes, “there was a lot of leakage from the instruments into her vocal mic.” 

He continued, “If we wanted to lower the volume of the piano for example, the vocal volume would decrease, too. To give listeners ‘the best seat in the house,’ we used cutting-edge spectral editing technology, clarifying the true artistry of Barbra and her band.”

Streisand also penned her own liner notes for the album. In one section, she recalls her journey to the Bon Soir’s stage: “I had never even been in a nightclub until I sang in one. I sang two songs in a talent contest at a little club called The Lion and won, which led to being hired at a more sophisticated supper club around the corner called the Bon Soir, with an actual stage and a spotlight. The buzz that began at the Bon Soir led to a contract with Columbia Records in 1962, the start of a long association that continues to this day. The initial plan for my first album was to record it at the club, and these early tapes have been sleeping in my vault for six decades. I’m delighted to finally bring them out into the light and share what could have been my debut album, Live At The Bon Soir.”

Live at Bon Soir will arrive digitally and on CD first, but a special vinyl version is available to pre-order and will ship in spring 2023.

Live at Bon Soir Track

1. Introduction by David Kapralik (Columbia Records)/My Name Is Barbra (Leonard Bernstein)
2. Much More (Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt)
3. Napoleon (Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg)
4. I Hate Music (Leonard Bernstein)
5. Right As The Rain (Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg)
6. Cry Me A River (Arthur Hamilton)
7. Value (Jeff Harris)
8. Lover, Come Back To Me (Oscar Hammerstein II/Sigmund Romberg)
9. Band Introductions
10. Soon It’s Gonna Rain (Harvey Schmidt/Tom Jones)
11. Come To The Supermarket (In Old Peking) (Cole Porter
12. When The Sun Comes Out (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler)
13. Happy Days Are Here Again (Jack Yellen/Milton Ager)
14. Keepin’ Out Of Mischief Now (Andy Razaf/Thomas “Fats” Waller)
15. A Sleepin’ Bee (Harold Arlen/Truman Capote)
16. I Had Myself A True Love (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer)
17. Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart)
18. Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf? (Frank Churchill/Ann Ronell)
19. I’ll Tell The Man In The Street (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart)
20. A Taste Of Honey (Bobby Scott/Ric Marlow)
21. Never Will I Marry (Frank Loesser)
22. Nobody’s Heart Belongs To Me (Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart)
23. My Honey’s Lovin’ Arms (Herman Ruby/Joseph Meyer)
24. I Stayed Too Long At The Fair (Billy Barnes)

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