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Archive for September 14th, 2012

Weekend Wround-Up: Barbra Streisand Joined by Bennett, Wonder, Krall on DVD and BD; Pixar Compiles More “Favorites”

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On February 11, 2011, Barbra Streisand joined some illustrious company, including Bono, Brian Wilson, Aretha Franklin and her “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” duet partner, Neil Diamond.  That was the evening Streisand was recognized as the MusiCares Person of the Year, following in the footsteps of those above-named artists.  Streisand was a natural candidate for the honor, as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences annually bestows it upon an artist with significant artistic achievement in music and commitment to philanthropy.  Part of the MusiCares tradition finds that person being celebrated by a line-up of peers and younger talent, and so that evening, Streisand was joined in Los Angeles by Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Barry Manilow, Stevie Wonder and others, to perform many of the songs she made famous throughout her career. On November 13, Shout Factory will release A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand on DVD, with a selection of the performances from the celebratory concert.

Diana Krall was in the producer’s chair for Streisand’s 2009 album Love is the Answer, and she opens the Blu-ray/DVD with a medley of three famous Streisand songs: “Down with Love,” “Get Happy,” and “Make Someone Happy.”  The first two, of course, were co-written by Harold Arlen, one of Streisand’s most admired composers.  Tony Bennett, who has performed with both Krall and Streisand in the past, performed a rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” (the opening track of Streisand’s 2003 The Movie Album).  Barry Manilow offered his take on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn’s “Memory” from the musical Cats; both Brooklyn natives released the song as a single and made the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 10 AC charts with it.  Stevie Wonder performed Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s “People” from Funny Girl with Arturo Sandoval, and Jeff Beck offered a scorching “Come Rain or Come Shine” (another Arlen song) with LeAnn Rimes and BeBe Winans.  The younger set was represented not only by Rimes, but by Leona Lewis (“Somewhere” from West Side Story), Faith Hill (Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns”) and a trio of stars from Glee (Lea Michele with Fanny Brice’s signature song, “My Man,” and Matthew Morrison and Kristin Chenoweth reprising their television duet of Bacharach and David’s “One Less Bell to Answer/A House is Not a Home” in Streisand’s arrangement).   Streisand herself brings the DVD to a close with performances of “The Windmills of Your Mind” and “The Promise (I’ll Never Say Goodbye).”

A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand is due for release on November 13 and follows Shout! Factory’s last MusiCares release celebrating Neil Young.  Pre-order links are currently not available, but we will add them as soon as possible!  You’ll find the complete track listing after the jump, down below!

Last week, Walt Disney Records quietly released a second volume of modern-day classics from Pixar’s animated films.  The new Disney-Pixar All-Time Favorites follows 2009’s Disney-Pixar Greatest, which brought the studio’s output up to date as of the Academy Award-winning Up.  In addition to revisiting some of the films represented on the first compilation with newly-compiled tracks, All-Time Favorites adds songs and score cues from Toy Story 3 (2010), Cars 2 (2011) and this year’s Brave.

Randy Newman is, of course, prominently featured, singing “I Will Go Sailing No More” from 1995’s Toy Story and “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3, while his compositions are also sung by Riders in the Sky (“Woody’s Round-Up” from 1999’s Toy Story 2), the Gipsy Kings (the Spanish-language “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story 3).  Newman’s scores from A Bug’s Life (1998) and Monsters, Inc. (2001) are also excerpted.  Randy’s cousin Thomas Newman is represented via score excerpts from the just-about-to-be-re-released Finding Nemo (2003) and WALL-E (2008), while another frequent member of the Pixar team, Michael Giacchino, takes the spotlight for tracks from 2007’s Ratatouille, Cars 2 and 2004’s The Incredibles.  One song and one score cue appear from Brave: Julie Fowlis’ rendition of Alex Mandel’s “Into the Open Air,” and Patrick Doyle’s “In Her Heart.”

Disney-Pixar All-Time Favorites is available in stores now, and can be ordered after the jump!   You’ll also find the complete track listing there. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 14, 2012 at 15:06

Because It’s Christmas: Barry Manilow’s “Classic Christmas Album” Coming in October

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Believe it or not, Christmas is just around the corner…and Barry Manilow is teaming with Legacy Recordings for the festivities.  The pop superstar has recorded three very different holiday albums between 1990 and 2007, and all three can be sampled on his Classic Christmas Album, due in stores on October 2, part of Legacy’s all-new holiday series.

Manilow made his first memorable contribution to the holiday songbook with his own composition “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve,” co-written with Marty Panzer (“It’s a Miracle,” “This One’s for You,” “Even Now”).  It was included on 1977’s chart-topping Barry Manilow Live and also released as a single.  A favorite of the late Dick Clark to ring in January 1 on his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, the reflective ballad takes its rightful place among the sixteen tracks on Manilow’s Classic Christmas Album.

His next major holiday statement on record was 1990’s Because It’s Christmas, the first of three such efforts.  The album blended original songs alongside familiar favorites, and even featured “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve” in a new recording.  Manilow paid homage to The Andrews Sisters and stepped in for Bing Crosby on a loving remake (with female vocal trio Exposé) of the famous, swinging Crosby/Andrews take on “Jingle Bells,” and deftly weaved religious and classical compositions with new songs and standards throughout the album: “Silent Night” was paired with the bluesy “I Guess There Ain’t No Santa Claus,” and “Joy to the World” with Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane’s wistful “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”  (“I Guess There Ain’t No Santa Claus” is one of two songs on the album with Johnny Mercer lyrics set to music by Manilow; it’s also the one selected for Classic Christmas.)  An excerpt from Handel’s “Messiah” introduced his own bid for a seasonal standard, “Because It’s Christmas (For All the Children).”  Manilow incorporated many of his own musical penchants on this disc, from big-band to jazz and of course, lush balladry.  Four tracks make an appearance on the new compilation.

Jazz and swing took a back seat, however, on the belated sequel to Because It’s Christmas.  2002’s A Christmas Gift of Love was a much more traditional affair, almost entirely composed of standards with one original, the title track (like that of Because It’s Christmas, written by Manilow with Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman), plus a revival of Joni Mitchell’s “River” that gained Manilow airplay on many holiday radio stations.  Several songs from A Christmas Gift have been pulled for the new collection, including “River,” the title cut, the Perry Como/Robert Goulet-popularized chestnut “Home for the Holidays,” with an arrangement from the great Patrick Williams, and three songs penned by Irving Berlin: “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and a medley of “Happy Holiday” and “White Christmas.”

When Manilow was called upon by greeting card giant Hallmark to craft a third Christmas long-player in 2007 as an exclusive for its retail stores, he returned to jazz, but with a twist.  Whereas Because It’s Christmas had a big-band feel to some tracks, Manilow aligned himself with two jazz trios for In the Swing of Christmas, the most adventurous of his three holiday albums.  From that set, Classic Christmas Album reintroduces “Silver Bells,” with an intricate vocal arrangement performed entirely by Manilow, and Berlin’s “Violets for Your Furs,” with The Randy Kerber Trio.  (The trio MaD Fusion also performed on the album.)  In 2009, Arista reissued the album, with two bonus tracks, both of which reappear here.  The infectious “Christmas is Just Around the Corner,” written by Manilow for the television special A Cranberry Christmas (just try not to tap your toes!), reappears here, as does a version of the perennial “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

After the jump, we have more, including the complete track listing with discography, and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 14, 2012 at 10:09