A Critic's View : STREISAND

For all her musical accomplishments, Barbra Streisand would have amassed an even more valuable body of work had she recorded during the pre-rock era, when the creative heart of pop music was focused on the sophisticated stage and film songs so ideally suited to her dramatic instincts.

Perhaps the most commanding pure pop vocalist of her generation (and then some), Streisand was still in her 20s three decades ago when she brought a breathtaking sense of individuality and passion to such tunes as "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "People." As the years passed, however, it was difficult to come up consistently with songs of equal ambition and scope.

There were moments of glorious exception, but nothing has been quite as revealing as her presence on this tour: She has chosen songs that are meaningful to her, and is singing them with an intimacy and grace that give her voice a warmth both chilling and comforting.

THE EAGLES

The Eagles' ability to turn out Top 40 hits (16 of them between 1972 and 1980) initially caused the band from Southern California to be viewed with suspicion by some rock 'n' roll hard-liners, both the '60s crowd that grew up on the radical sounds of underground radio and the emerging punk revolutionaries who equated commercial success with pop corruption.

But the Eagles' music was filled with the kind of social realism and observation that had characterized the best work of such earlier American bands as the Byrds and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The songs, mostly written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, combined tuneful melodies and pleasing harmonies with penetrating and provocative examinations of the American character.

Such hits as "Hotel California" and "Life in the Fast Lane" defined the challenges and weaknesses of a generation that was struggling to resolve the idealism of the '60s with the "me" generation impulses that eventually would dominate the '80s social climate.

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