Since Barbra Streisand has recorded for Columbia Records since day one, putting together a box set of work should be no problem: Just go in the vaults and dig it all up, right? Dream on, bucko.
Many previously unreleased tracks in Babs’ box come from sources other than Columbia — which, of course, is a selling point to Streisand fanatics. Tracking down that material was no piece of cake, says Marty Erlichman, Streisand’s manager since 1961, who coproduced the set with her. After searching the singer’s vault and finding old kinescopes, acetates, and home movies — you know, the sort of thing you’d keep in your vault, too, if you had one — the pair took out newspaper ads seeking more. In came tapes, kinescopes, even an ancient wire recording. ”A lot of the old TV shows, like Johnny Carson and Mike Wallace’s P.M. East, were all erased,” says Erlichman. ”So the only way to get them was if fans had them.”
Also, just because Columbia had released a track didn’t mean they knew where it was. At least not right away. ”I’m sure Columbia’s no different from everybody else, but their system was not infallible,” Erlichman diplomatically notes. ”There were an awful lot of tapes that we knew existed that we couldn’t find. And they’ve got big vaults in mountains.” So where were Streisand’s lost tapes? Where else — the Catskills.