The 25th anniversary of Barbra Streisand's network television debut is being noted with the re-release of "The Streisand Collection," a set of five videos that includes television specials from a 23-year-old instant superstar, "My Name Is Barbra" (1965), to a special performance at her Malibu, Calif., home, "One Voice" (1987) with hits that spanned a 25-year recording career.
The other three videos being released Thursday by CBS/Fox Video ($19.98 each) are "Color Me Barbra," a 1966 one-woman special from the Philadelphia Museum; "A Happening in Central Park," her 1967 emotional farewell-to-New-York concert and "Barbra Streisand 'Putting It Together' -- The Making of 'The Broadway Album.'"
That unmistakeable one voice, exquisitely honed as if it was created for use in major cathedrals only, is there on the early volumes as well as the more recent ones. The song selections are classic, the ones fans remember most and Streisand does best.
At age 22, Streisand, the Broadway hit "Funny Girl" behind her, embarked on her first television special. She insisted on creative control. This was unheard of in 1964, but she got it. "My Name Is Barbra" and "Color Me Barbra" were one-woman shows with no glitz, skits or special guests. They were video albums a couple of decades ahead of their time. She would pack 23-26 songs into the hour -- her way.
"My Name is Barbra" (52 minutes) includes "People," "My Man" and concludes with a medley from "Funny Girl."
"Color Me Barbra" (53 minutes) makes full use of early television color technology. In addition to the museum tour, Streisand adds a circus sequence of songs with a show pony, baby llama, little monkey, bengal tiger and baby elephant.
"A Happening in Central Park" (53 minutes) was her first concert recorded live and includes "Second Hand Rose," "Cry Me a River" and her now classic rendition of "Silent Night."
"One Voice" (65 minutes), before 500 invited guests at her home in Malibu the concert includes "Guilty" with Barry Gibb, "What Kind of Fool" and "Send in the Clowns," also first timers "Over the Rainbow," "It's a New World" and "America the Beautiful."
"Putting It Together" (40 minutes) includes behind-the-scenes footage of "The Broadway Album" recording sessions and features "If I loved You."
Also new in music videos is a two-volume set highlighting Elvis Presley's career and major hits, "Elvis: The Great Performances." The first volume is titled "Center Stage" (52 minutes) and the second, "The Man and His Music" (54 minutes), $19.99 each.
This set, which marks the entry of Buena Vista Home Video (the Disney folks) into the music video category, is more than a clip-and-patch offering of 27 of Elvis' hits which rocked the charts around the world. It weaves a story line and includes recently discovered footage from his early days, including his first Hollywood screen test, his first audio recording and some of his more controversial live performances.
The musical performances and story lines are much more carefully blended than in the usual run of music videos, a tribute to executive producer Andrew Solt, who also wrote and directed the project. "The video offers some of the best moments from the man who forged a new sound and changed the shape of everything that came after him ... we also wanted to make Elvis accessible to a wide audience -- and perhaps a new generation.
Volume one packs a lot of punch from his early years including his television appearances on the Milton Berle, Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan shows. The songs are all among his most memorable, from "Money Honey" to one of his last public performances doing "Unchained Melody." In between are such hits as "Hound Dog," "I Want You. I Need You. I Love You," "Love Me Tender," "Jailhouse Rock" and "All Shook Up."
Volume two has more of a look at the private man, struggling with the problems of his fame and his love for home and family. It features his recently discovered first recording of "My Happiness." Other hits included are "Shake, Rattle and Roll," "Blue Swede Shoes," "Don't Be Cruel," "GI Blues," "You Gave Me a Mountain," "Always On My Mind," and "If I Can Dream."
The videos are narrated by disc jockey George Klein, close friend and classmate of Presley in junior high school. Each jacket contains an informative and illustrated eight-page program written by Peter Guralnick, currently working on a biography of Elvis.
And for jazz lovers V.I.E.W. Video has just released a pair of titles worthy of any collection, "The Moscow Sax Quintet: The Jazznost Tour" and "Dizzy Gillespie: A Night in Tunisia."
The Russians were taped during a U.S. tour and come up with a captivating sound filled with a true jazz feeling. Playing soprano, tenor and baritone saxes, as well as a flute, clarinet and bass clarinet, they often blend as if a single instrument.
It's amazing to hear them do Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" and "Parker's Mood," and play his improvised solos in five-part harmony at breakneck speed.
Other features on the 62-minute V.I.E.W. release ($29.95, 1-800-843-9843) include "In The Mood," a la Glenn Miller, "I Got Rhythm," "Smashing Thirds," "Crazy Rhythm" and Flight of the Bumble Bee."
Dizzy Gillespie (28 minutes, $19.95) delves deeply into the birth of the bebop era and Dizzy's role of bringing Afro-Cuban rhythms into the flow of American jazz. The video takes the viewer backstage with Dizzy and his band in rehearsal. They talk of Gillespie's staggering list of jazz standards and his impact on the music as one of the world's most influential trumpet players.
Don't look for many Gillespie trumpet solos. It isn't until the finale that he picks up his trademark horn and plays "A Night in Tunisia." What else? That's when it all began back in 1942 and Gillespie recounts exactly how and why he stacked his notes the way he did and why it was called bebop.