As they evolved in the 1980s, retrospective box sets tended to contain a full complement of an artist's essential recordings, plus enough rarities to suggest the artist's inspirations and ambitions. Not all box sets conformed to this outline, however. Barbra Streisand
was unusual, in that she had a large base of devoted fans interested in the minutiae of her career, and in that her entire recorded catalog remained in print. She had also worked with the same record company for her entire career and maintained her status as a frontline artist, so she had complete creative control over this retrospective. The result was a four-disc box devoted almost entirely to rare, previously unreleased material. Here and there, Streisand
tossed in one of her most familiar recordings, such as the hit version of "People." But the overwhelming bulk of Just for the Record...
was given over to homemade demonstration tapes, live recordings, television appearances, and outtakes from unfinished album projects, not to mention other special material. To Streisand
's army of fans, that made it a delight, but practically by definition, that did not make it a great Barbra Streisand
album unto itself. Unlike most boxed sets, this was not a one-stop shopping item that gave you the best and the rest of Barbra Streisand
. That is not to say that there weren't some fascinating and terrific performances included. Especially notable was a set of eight songs recorded at a nightclub in 1962 and originally intended for Streisand
's debut album. A duet with Judy Garland
from her TV show and a rendering of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" from a Las Vegas show were equally impressive. Nevertheless, Just for the Record...
was an album to buy in addition to her hits collections and landmark albums, not in place of them.