Ultimate Manilow

November 6, 2014 - Comment

After The Greatest Songs of the Fifties skyrocketted to #1 on the Billboard charts and attained Platinum status, Barry Manilow once again takes us through time with his release, The Greatest Songs of the Sixties. The album, produced by Manilow and Clive Davis, features endless classics including a remake of the Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost

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After The Greatest Songs of the Fifties skyrocketted to #1 on the Billboard charts and attained Platinum status, Barry Manilow once again takes us through time with his release, The Greatest Songs of the Sixties. The album, produced by Manilow and Clive Davis, features endless classics including a remake of the Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling'” (1965) to the Beatles’ “And I Love Her”(1964), to Herb Alpert’s “This Guy’s In Love With You” (1968), the Lettermen’s “When I Fall In Love” (1962) and Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” (1969). There’s a cynical adage that argues if you stand still long enough, history will eventually catch up with you. It’s tempting to say that about Barry Manilow, an artist whose stubborn, quarter-century dedication to old-fashioned song craft and musical melodrama has earned him few critical praises but a loyal worldwide following in the millions. When a cult of 20-something would-be lounge lizards tried to cash in on Manilow’s shtick in the 1990s, they distanced themselves from its emotional potency with telling dollops of irony and retro-hip cynicism–anything to keep from looking too sincere. This album serves up the high points of Manilow’s long, successful career, rightly focusing on the long string of ’70s hits that built both his legend and record label. They’re a body of songs whose solid craftsmanship is undeniable, but it’s Manilow’s sincerity that crucially sells them–indeed, he didn’t write “I Write the Songs,” but who could doubt him? It’s an odd tribute that much here–“Mandy,” “Looks Like We Made It,” “Copacabana,” et. al.–has become the palette for a popular entertainment spectrum that somehow encompasses endless hotel piano bars on one flank and TV sketch-com parody on the other. Good to remember that kitsch, by definition, requires a deep and lasting impact on the culture. Manilow hasn’t just embraced the “K” word; he’s reveled in it with a smile–how could one frown through “Bandstand Boogie” and “Copa” anyway?–and elevated it to something approaching the transcendental through his sheer, joyous force of will. And if his latter work has been unabashedly nostalgic, how could anyone be surprised? –Jerry McCulley

Comments

Steve Vrana says:

King of the Romantic Ballad Boasting twenty songs and nearly 80 minutes of music, Ultimate Manilow presents fans with a single disc collection that contains every major hit from 1974’s “Mandy” to his last Top 10 hit, 1980’s “I Made It Through the Rain.” In addition, you get Manilow’s update of the “Bandstand” theme song and a couple of his early-Eighties minor hits (“The Old Songs” and “Somewhere Down the Road”) and his attempt at a more jazz-influenced sound on “When October Goes” from 1984’s “2:00 AM Paradise Cafe.”Never the critics’ darling, Manilow had a non-stop string of hits through the Seventies, including three No. 1’s and five million-sellers. Billboard archivist Joel Whitburn listed Manilow at No. 12 among the Top Artists of the Seventies–based on chart position and weeks spent on the chart.Michael Jackson might have been the King of Pop, but Manilow was the King of the Romantic Ballad. [Trivia footnote: Manilow’s…

Carole C. Thorpe "apricotrse" says:

Barry gets the last laugh again! When was the last time Barry Manilow seriously charted a record? My guess is that it’s been about 20 years since broke the top 25, let alone the top 10. Well, lookie here — this album debuts on the Billboard 100 this week at #3. You read it right…..NUMBER THREE.The really “Ultimate” thing about Manilow is that for all the jokes about him over the years – he has always had the last laugh. As a songwriter/arranger who most thought had only a passable voice with his thick Brooklyn accent, he became one of the top vocalists of the 1970’s with many of his biggest hits being the songs he DIDN’T write. He also single-handedly brought back the sound of a full orchestra in popular music after years of only rhythm instruments.When the early 1980’s arrived and musical tastes changed, Manilow disappeared from the airwaves. But he has never disappeared from the public. He maintained and built his solid concert following worldwide, selling out shows for years and…

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