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Archive for May 9th, 2010

Back Tracks: Barry Manilow, Part 2 (1985-2010)

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Back Tracks left Barry Manilow in 1984 after the release of his first genre-specific album, the jazz-inflected 2:00 a.m. Paradise Café. We pick up with him shifting gears in an attempt to once again court the pop market. He’s left his longtime label, Arista, and signed a new deal with RCA. This union would be a short-lived one, producing just four albums: two sets of his greatest hits as sung in Spanish and Portuguese, and the following two discs…

Manilow (RCA, 1985 – reissued Legacy, 2008)

Manilow layers on the synthesizers for a strong 1980s vibe on this mixed bag of material which was greeted by general audience indifference. Most successful is the one song that departs from the formula: the theatrical ballad “Sweet Heaven (I’m in Love Again)” from the television musical Copacabana, which remains a concert favorite today. Manilow also reached back for a Motown cover of Ashford and Simpson’s “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” duetting with his backup singer Muffy Hendrix. The Italian version of the LP offered two tracks sung in Italian, while the Japanese LP offered one sung in that tongue plus a duet with Japanese artist Hideki Saijo. The French edition offered a duet with Mireille Mathieu. Only the Mathieu duet has surfaced, on the Complete Collection box set. The other international tracks would have made for a great expanded edition, but RCA/Legacy opted to give Manilow a bare-bones remaster when they reissued the disc in 2008. (At least this reissue stopped the scarce original RCA CD from commanding exorbitant prices on eBay; it had probably become the most difficult-to-find Manilow compact disc.)

Copacabana: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Recording (RCA, 1985)

In 1985, Barry Manilow teamed with producer Dick Clark, writer James Lipton (of Inside the Actor’s Studio fame) to craft an original television musical based on his most famous song. But one song doth not a musical make, so Manilow teamed with lyricists Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman to create a full score. He also made his acting debut as Tony, joined by Annette O’Toole (Lola), Joe Bologna (Rico) and Estelle Getty (Bella). The most successful of the new songs was “Sweet Heaven (I’m in Love Again),” reprised on the Manilow album, and a winning ballad, “Who Needs to Dream?” O’Toole does her best with “Man Wanted” and Latin pastiche “El Bravo.” The film itself is ridiculously over-the-top, and is most appreciated by those who enjoy unabashed camp. The music for the film was co-produced by Manilow and The Four Seasons’ Bob Gaudio in their only collaboration. Manilow, Sussman and Feldman would later turn the film into a full-blown stage musical, adding yet more new songs to the score. The London staging received a cast recording (First Night CAST CD42) in 1994. As with Manilow’s superior theatre score, Harmony, Copacabana has never made it to Broadway. (Side note: the television film’s rather downbeat ending – true to the original song – was amended for the stage version, which employs a framing device to find the Tony and Lola characters still happily together at the final curtain.  So much for “She lost her youth and she lost her Tony, now she’s lost her mind!”) RCA’s soundtrack didn’t remain in print for long, but currently offers a CD issue.

For his next album, Manilow returned to his longtime home base, Clive Davis’ Arista Records.  Read about it after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 9, 2010 at 21:24

Posted in Barry Manilow, Features, Reissues

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