Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

John Waite Celebrates 40 Years Of Great Music With Best

John Waite - BestEarlier tonight I interviewed one of the most underrated musicians of all time: John Waite. Over the past four decades he’s served as the lead singer for two stellar bands – The Babys and Bad English – and his solo career has produced numerous hits, including “Missing You,” “Change” and “How Did I Get By Without You.” But John Waite is much more than hit maker: He’s an artist whose vocal, lyrical and musical abilities are second to none. He’s celebrating 40 years of unforgettable music with the release of Best, an 18-track snapshot of his illustrious career. What makes this album special is in addition to featuring a handful of hits, there are several deep cuts from albums that didn’t get the attention they deserved - Temple Bar and When You Were Mine – as well as live cuts from 2013′s Live All AccessBest also features three re-recorded hits: “Back On My Feet Again,” “Isn’t It Time” and the iconic “Missing You.” There are two versions of “Missing You” on this album but it’s OK because they’re markedly different. The duet with Alison Krauss has a country vibe and their chemistry together is magnificent, while the newly re-recorded version is a heartfelt modernization of a classic that 30 years later still sounds as fresh as it did in 1984. If you’re a hardcore or casual fan of John Waite, Best is an excellent way to celebrate his impressive career. I highly recommend you pick it up when it’s released on May 12.

Stay tuned for my interview with John Waite, which will be posted in multiple parts over the next several weeks.

Below are John Waite’s thoughts on Best and his track-by-track commentary. This information was compiled by Ken Sharp and originally appeared on John Waite’s official website: johnwaiteworldwide.com.

THE STORY:

I suppose the idea for Best came to me last December. I was in Beverly Hills just walking in the rain. There was an exhibition of the photography of Richard Avedon and I’d always been interested in his work so I thought I’d check it out, get out of the rain for a while and then get a glass of wine. I remember a huge white wall with at least 60 different photos–all figurative stuff, all different. It was a very ‘60s approach. I write, play and sing music but I’m also very interested in art. I don’t really see the difference in the different mediums; literature, painting, acting, etc., it’s all expression. I saw the pictures presented that way and considered what its counterpart would be musically and BEST came out of that. I didn’t want to do the obvious thing and simply put out a “Greatest Hits” record as anyone can do that through iTunes. Just download a play list and hey, “presto.”

This collection is called Best because it’s my best. It’s me putting together my favorite work and it’s totally subjective; I had no one to answer to but myself. It was, I have to say, great fun. I re-sang “Missing You” and “Back On My Feet Again” as the lyrics and melodies had been written literally hours or at most a day before recording the originals so long ago. I always felt I could “do” them better and bring something to them that I’d missed, update the production and make them more vital. And besides, a retrospective was a nice way of looking at my work. I wanted to connect the dots as much for myself as for anyone who might hear it.

I set about the task at hand on my return from England on New Year’s Eve. I’d been making lists over the holidays and decided to simply follow my heart. There was no way I could exclude “Bluebird Café” or “Suicide Life.” I also wanted to add live tracks from my great live band–Tim Hogan (bass), Kerri Kelli (guitar) and Rhondo (drummer)–and I remembered I had a steaming unreleased version of “Every Time I Think Of You” from last year that was so real it bordered on ‘60s soul music. My duet with Alison Krauss on “Missing You” was important to me on a profound level as it showed my love for country, bluegrass and in fact, Alison, whilst “Rough and Tumble” was pure blues rock .There are 18 songs on Best. It’s been a long career and this is the story – Best yet actually. The story is far from over.

THE SONGS:

Back On My Feet Again (newly re-recorded)

We had written all of the songs for the record and we thought we had a great record. There was a song that the record company insisted on us doing called “Yesterday’s Heroes.” It was really a song about being a failure. I don’t know what they were thinking. There was this guy called Roger who worked in the A&R department and he was saying, “This is a great song and you need to cut it.” I kept saying “no.” Our producer, Keith Olsen, kept making excuses for me. The band cut the track when I wasn’t there, as they were trying to appease the record company. I kept telling them that I was not singing that song. I was not going to sing those lyrics, as they were a piece of shit. On the last day of recording, I was getting out of bed and I was getting a cup of coffee and lighting a cigarette—a Marlboro Light, it was—and I sat down in my dressing gown and I wrote “Back on My Feet Again.” I wrote the lyric out and I sang over the top of this other song with a completely different melody and a whole new set of words on it. The next day I came in and put the “Hey babe, I’m back on my feet again. Here I am…” Everyone was really speechless. They had cut this song that wasn’t that good and now we had this.

Isn’t It Time (newly re-recorded)

It was like a Philadelphia soul song. Our producer came up with the song and said, “Hey, I’ve got these guys that I work with and I’ve got a great song.” With “Isn’t It Time,” you have to really appreciate that we did an absolute number on it, all the backing vocals and I changed the melody.

Rough and Tumble

I thought it was just a great name. It was quite a poetic track on one level; it’s quite sexual on another level and it’s quite spiritual on another level – if there’s a difference. “Rough & Tumble” just seemed to me to encapsulate my life and my music at the time. I thought it was a great title – some song titles just say “use me,” it’s got music in it and besides the syllables work. “Rough & Tumble” made it to number one of the Classic Rock charts in America.

Missing You (newly re-recorded)

“Missing You” is an amalgam of three different people. In his book, Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel Proust says that when he imagines a country girl he also imagines the country. You can’t separate the girl from the river and the trees and the grass because everything is the same experience. I was writing about these women, I was writing about New York, and I was also writing about distance. Each girl played a very large part in that song. I’ve never got bored singing it. It took ten minutes to write it, and maybe that’s why. It came out of nowhere, and was made up on the spot. It’s very genuine. It’s almost like a blues song. It’s about denial. The lyrics are good. It came off the top of my head. It was the last thing I wrote for the record, and it always gets that same response, where people just stop breathing for a second; it’s that big. My marriage was in a mess. It was kind of over, and I was torn. I was living in LA trying to finish the record, then I’d be living in New York, and my life was just a mess. When I hit the chorus, I didn’t know I was going to sing, “I ain’t missing you.” Somebody said the other day, if I had just sang, “I’m missing you,” it would have been just crap. Then he said, “You put denial in there, and it’s what every man goes through; denial.” So it made it extra twisted and kind of clever.

If You Ever Get Lonely

There was a song floating around Nashville called “If You Ever Get Lonely” and my manager kept telling me that it was a great song. I kept telling him “no.” The chorus was great, but the rest of it was really pretty much like one of those things that come out of Nashville, where someone writes a verse, and one person writes a chorus, and everyone writes a different part. It actually sounded like a Cat Stevens song or something. I got what he was saying about the chorus, though. After one of the days in the studio with Kyle Cook, who is from Matchbox 20, we talked about the chorus and how it had something and how the rest of the song was not working. We started going back and forth with different lyrics and the whole thing happened in about five minutes.

Better Off Gone

“Better Off Gone” was the first thing me and Kyle (Cook) wrote together. We literally came up with it between “hello” and “how you doin’?”! We were both playing acoustic guitars. I was watching his hands and he was watching mine. It was a great start to four songs for the Rough & Tumble album. I wrote “Evil,” “If You Ever Get Lonely” and “Love’s Going Out Of Style” in quick succession. Great guitar player and nice guy. He played on the American and European gigs too.

Suicide Life

The album When You Were Mine was originally called Suicide Life. The record company politely requested the title be changed as it might scare people off. They had a point. Try to imagine explaining that title in every radio station you went into. Good idea actually. It’s my best album. It was really ahead of the curve. I’d spent a lot of time in Nashville trying to find the heart of country, the honesty in the songwriting. “Bluebird Café” is on that CD as well as “Imaginary Girl.” “Suicide Life” wasn’t country but I was casting about for subjects that had meaning. Hollywood Boulevard east of Musso and Frank’s restaurant slowly turned into a wasteland–space cadets, runaways, hookers, rough trade, junkies, the works. It felt if you kept walking into the darkness you could fall off the edge of the world! I was staying in Hollywood and found myself wandering around there after dark. The back stories on those people are probably simple but what happened to them isn’t. It’s one of my best. Wrote the music with Shane Fontayne.

Change (live)

I remember getting a cassette in the mail of “Change” by this group called Spider. I played it on by little tape recorder and thought, “Christ, that’s a great chorus” but I didn’t dig some of the lyrics so I rewrote some of the words. I thought it would be a great single. It was timely. It sounded a little bit like The Babys but it had something else. I thought it was a very good song but it needed a tweak or two and I gave it those tweaks. The crowd goes nuts when we play it. I still open the show with that song.

Every Time I Think Of You (live)

We tried to repeat the success that “Isn’t It Time” had by using the same situation. That’s something that Steve Marriott and Paul Rodgers showed me from a distance is you can sing hard rock and flip the coin and sing a ballad and it’s still believable.

Head First (live)

I’d already called the album Head First so I felt, “Why don’t I just write a song called ‘Head First’?” I made up all these lyrics about what was in my head and it didn’t make any sense at all and for a couple of days we called it “Sunday Afternoon.” As for the music, Tony came up with the revolving piano line for “Head First” and then Wally came up with the guitar line over the top playing it as a one line thing. We recorded it in a room as big as a broom closet. We’d gone from using cathedral style huge recording rooms to something the size of a drum booth in a tiny mix room at the Record Plant in Los Angeles.

Evil (live)

“Evil” is almost like “Miss You” by The Stones. It’s very New York City. It sounds like somebody’s really out of their mind and it’s sexy because of that. It’s very seventies and very Studio 54.

Saturday Night (live)

I co-wrote “Saturday Night” with Gary Myrick who was a real Texas blues guy but he played extremely unorthodox guitar. All you have to do with me is make a noise and I’ll give you a lyric. I’m very responsive like that. We decided to play some flat out fuckin’ rock and then I took the music away to work on the lyrics. Bruce Springsteen’s guitar player, Nils Lofgren, had a song where he sings about dancing in the streets (“Secrets in the Street”). I thought about Nils dancing in the streets at dawn coming home and that appears in the song, (recites lyrics), “Ain’t it just like me to be dancing in the streets.” But I was thinking about Verlaine, the poet, and that thing where you’re a moment away from making something rhyme. Expectation. Ten Seconds to Midnight. And I was thinking about (Johannes) Vermeer (Dutch painter) when things are pre-dawn and you’re with somebody and it’s a really beautiful moment. Then Gene Vincent gets name checked in the song, (recites lyrics), “and just like Gene Vincent, I’m longing to groove…” and he was a flat out rock icon. I put them all in the same tune. It was a time to really throw down if you were gonna throw down. I was living in New York City and was just coming out of my shoes. It was a very creative time.

Bluebird Café (unplugged)

I was raised on Western music. Cowboys and Indians to rock and roll was a natural move. The acoustic guitar came before the electric and so did the storytelling. “Bluebird Café” is probably the best thing I’ve done. Donny Lowery had the line, “young hearts can fly, restless and wild.” I had nothing. It was such a great line. We quit for a beer at a local bar. Maybe that would help. Out of nowhere came this super pretty Iranian waitress. We were flirting with her. How could you not? She was playing The Ace of Clubs that night with her band and I could tell how much it meant to her. Pure Nashville. A light went off over my head and I thought, “why not the Bluebird Cafe?” All those young hopeful singer/songwriters on “open mic night”! Me and Donny went back to the studio and I killed it. It’s my best. I’ve said in the press “if Willie Nelson covers it I’ll kiss his feet.” I’m only half kidding; an older voice singing about a young girl making her way in Nashville….

I’m Ready (unplugged)

I wrote “I’m Ready” in my cottage in the Lake District at night towards the end of a bitter cold winter. It’s folk. The acoustic guitar is “first” in everything for me when it comes to songwriting. I don’t think it could have been written anywhere else. It’s a song about reincarnation, finding the same girl over and over through different lives. It had to go on the record. It’s just me alone.

In Dreams

The film company, Morgan Creek, sent me a video of a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s new movie called True Romance. Tony Scott was directing and the cast was “A” list to say the least. I was working with the songwriter MarkSpiro at the time so I thought it just might be an easy thing to “knock out.” It was the first time I’d actually written something for a movie. It came together very quickly at Mark’s home studio. The demo is the “master.” The vocal is what happened winging it. Mark and I work well together and he’s still a close friend. As for me and Tony Scott, we wound up shooting the video for “In Dreams” in Monument Valley with me on top of a mesa and Tony dive bombing me in a helicopter shooting at 360 degrees. It was a life memory. Not only to be on top of that mesa and close to God but to work with Tony. I liked him enormously. I still think about him. He’s missed.

The Hard Way

I was spending more time in Nashville. It was still pretty much undiscovered. Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill were putting out killer stuff and there was such a feeling of “trueness” to everything. I would sit outside the Ryman auditorium and just stare at it. I could never go in for some reason. How I met Jeffrey Steel is a story in itself. He was playing down the street from me in Santa Monica and Debby Holiday invited me down. It was a songwriters circle. Jeff was really outstanding on stage and off–great guy. We made a loose arrangement to work together the next time I was in Nashville. I had the title of “The Hard Way,” a basic plot of two people with different expectations facing in opposite directions, a guitar lick and even a rough bit of melody. But for the life of me I couldn’t do anything with any of it. Me and Jeff met up in a writing room one morning, coffee-d up and jumped in. I remember a train whistle blowing from far away. The south. He was on! I’d come to the table with the best I had to offer that wasn’t finished. I took him very seriously. Jeff immediately got it and took over. I just stood back. He was great. Within an hour it all made sense, was complete and didn’t sound like anything I’d heard before. He’s one of the “real ones” in Nashville. Good song. It’s almost country.

Downtown

There was an old upright Steinway at Sony Music on 5th Avenue. Totally beaten and out of tune. It looked like it had been through a war. It had a poignant tone to it and it always moved me. Glen Burtnick and I would spend hours just talking about the song we would be thinking of writing and suddenly it would just happen. “Downtown” was a song about a long walk in the city and the movie that plays memories back in you’re mind as you remember the past. It’s a difficult song to talk about. It was so personal. I can’t add anything; it’s complete.

Missing You (duet with Alison Krauss)

I recorded this album Downtown that had a lot of my favorite songs on it. We tried to rework the songs a little differently but when it came to “Missing You” I couldn’t think of anything to do with it but a duet. My favorite female singer is Alison Krauss so I called her up and she said yes. I was in Nashville at the time so she just came down one afternoon and away we went and we got it in an afternoon. I went and sang on her record after that and then I played The Opry, which was a very big deal for me.

Book Review – Face The Music: A Life Exposed by Paul Stanley

Paul Stanley - Face The Music: A Life ExposedWhile traveling last week, I downloaded and listened to the audiobook version of Face The Music: A Life Exposed by KISS frontman Paul Stanley. Paul has always been my favorite member of KISS, so I eagerly awaited the release of this book and having him narrate it felt like getting to know him over a cup of coffee…a more-than-12-hour cup of coffee. Despite its substantial length – it’s the longest KISS autobiography to date, Paul’s honest and unfiltered account of his life and career make this a revealing and inspiring book. And the lively narration helps breath life into the words, which makes for a refreshing and engaging listen. If you’re a KISS fan, or just a fan of great music autobiographies, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Face The Music: A Life Exposed. It may have taken Paul Stanley 40 years to write an autobiography, but it was well worth the wait.

My WWE WrestleMania XXX Weekend

I had a great view of the action from my seat at WrestleMania XXX.

I had a great view of the action from my seat at WrestleMania XXX.

Last weekend I was in New Orleans for my first WrestleMania, WrestleMania XXX. It was a blast and I took a ton of photos and shot multiple videos. Below is a day-by-day breakdown of the fun and festivities that took place. Enjoy!

Friday, April 4

To save money, I decided to fly to Dallas and then to New Orleans. This worked in my favor because I ran into WCW legend Bill Goldberg at the airport. It turns out that we were on the same flight, so I politely asked him for a photo and he agreed.

Meeting Bill Goldberg at the Dallas Airport on my way to WrestleMania XXX.

Meeting Bill Goldberg at the Dallas Airport on my way to WrestleMania XXX.

My plane landed in New Orleans on Friday and I checked into the Marriott on Canal Street shortly thereafter. While walking through the French Quarter to grab dinner, I bumped into Hulk Hogan’s manager, Jimmy Hart. I said hello to him and asked if he’d be at WrestleMania Axxess, an annual festival where fans can meet WWE legends and modern-day superstars, and he said he would. It was a surreal experience to see a larger-than-life personality walking through the streets but he was as nice as could be.

After dinner I headed to the Ring of Honor show in Westwego, just outside New Orleans. The show, Supercard of Honor VIII, was my first Ring of Honor event and it was awesome. Ring of Honor is an independent promotion that has some national television exposure but it isn’t as well known as WWE or the second most popular wrestling promotion, TNA. That said, I wouldn’t hesitate to attend another Ring of Honor event. They go above and beyond to entertain the fans.

I enjoyed the Ring of Honor show with Ben (left) and Alex (right).

I enjoyed the Ring of Honor show with Ben (left) and Alex (right).

Saturday, April 5

On Saturday morning I was up early because I had an 8 a.m. meet and greet with the immortal Hulk Hogan. This was easily the most exciting part of my trip since I grew up watching Hogan as a child and also enjoyed his reality show Hogan Knows Best. After waiting for approximately 45 minutes, I made it to the front of the line and got to meet Hulk Hogan. I went up, shook his hand and told him that he was my childhood hero and that I have great respect for what he’s accomplished. He thanked me, autographed by WWE 50 book and we posed for a photo.

Meeting my childhood hero, Hulk Hogan, was the highlight of my WrestleMania weekend.

Meeting my childhood hero, Hulk Hogan, was the highlight of my WrestleMania weekend.

After meeting Hulk Hogan, I got in line to meet other WWE personalities, including Christian, Howard Finkel and Pat Patterson.

Meeting WWE Superstar Christian.

Meeting WWE superstar Christian.

Meeting legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel (left) and the first Intercontinental Champion, Pat Patterson (right).

Meeting legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel (left) and the first Intercontinental Champion, Pat Patterson (right).

I also visited an exhibit at Axxess called the Undertaker’s Graveyard. For the uninitiated, the Undertaker is a WWE superstar that, up until this year, was undefeated at WrestleMania for the past 21 years. So, they created a graveyard with tombstones for each of the opponents he beat. This graveyard also includes caskets and other props the Undertaker has used in his matches. Speaking of which, I had a photo taken of myself in one of these caskets, only to find out shortly afterward that this wasn’t permitted. Thankfully, I got this morbid shot before being reprimanded.

Me in a casket in the Undertaker's Graveyard at WrestleMania Axxess.

Me in a casket in the Undertaker’s Graveyard at WrestleMania Axxess.

They also had a burial plot symbolizing the Undertaker’s opponent at WrestleMania XXX, Brock Lesnar. As you can see, I eagerly took part in this photo opp.

Me, at the burial site of the Undertaker's WrestleMania XXX opponent, or so I thought.

Me, at the burial site of the Undertaker’s WrestleMania XXX opponent, or so I thought.

Before grabbing some food, I stopped by the Legends’ House booth and met Jimmy Hart. He let me pose with his famous megaphone, which was surprisingly heavy.

Spending time with the "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart.

Spending time with the “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart.

At 6 p.m. I had a meet and greet with the greatest wrestler of all time, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Meeting him was a wonderful honor and after doing so, I was off to the Hall of Fame.

Meeting Ric Flair at WrestleMania Axxess.

Meeting Ric Flair at WrestleMania Axxess.

I had a great seat at the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame, just a few rows off the floor where the wrestlers and their families were sitting. And the class of wrestlers being inducted was excellent. In addition to seeing my all-time favorite wrestler, the Ultimate Warrior, I saw Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Razor Ramon (i.e., Scott Hall) recognized by WWE for their prolific and influential careers. But perhaps the best part was the surprise appearance by the Undertaker to pay tribute to his deceased manager, Paul Bearer, who was also part of this year’s class of inductees.

Sunday, April 6

After not getting much sleep, I woke up early, yet again, to visit WrestleMania Axxess on Sunday morning. This time around I met Howard Finkel (for the second time – and he remembered me!) and Roddy Pipper, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and, lastly, William Regal and several NXT wrestlers.

Hanging out with Howard Finkel and Roddy Piper.

Hanging out with Howard Finkel and Roddy Piper.

Meeting WWE Hall of Famers Paul Orndorff (left) and Ricky Steamboat (right).

Meeting WWE Hall of Famers Paul Orndorff (left) and Ricky Steamboat (right).

Meeting NXT Superstars and one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time, William Regal (far right).

Meeting NXT superstars and one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time, William Regal (right).

Before leaving WrestleMania Axxess, I took part in an open casting call for an upcoming WWE Studios movie. All I had to do was read lines off a teleprompter. I have no idea what the film is and I highly doubt that I’ll get called back, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I also went through the museum of WrestleMania memorabilia. Check out the video below to see what was inside.

Then, I headed across the street to WrestleCon, a non-WWE event where legendary wrestlers met and took photos with fans. My main reason for going to this event was to meet the WCW and TNA legend, Sting. It’s rumored that Sting will be appearing in WWE very soon so he can end his career with the company and be inducted into the Hall of Fame, so I wanted to meet him before this historic event takes place. He was as pleasant as could be and I’m glad I took the time to meet him.

Meeting WCW and TNA wrestling legend, Sting.

Meeting WCW and TNA wrestling legend, Sting.

After meeting Sting I got an early dinner and headed to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for WrestleMania XXX. My seat for the show was great, and I shot a video of the opening fireworks.

By the time WrestleMania XXX came to a close, I was still in shock over the fact that the Undertaker’s streak of being undefeated at WrestleMania came to an end. The entire arena was in shock and many people were legitimately upset. For non-wrestling fans, I know this is hard to understand. But most fans wanted the Undertaker to retire with the streak intact. While this won’t happen, I’m glad to say I witnessed a historic event, and that I saw Daniel Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship after overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds.

Monday, April 7

On the last day of my long WrestleMania weekend, I was able to sleep late and take my time. That night I headed to the Smoothie King Center (talk about a stupid name for an arena) for WWE Raw, the company’s flagship television show. The show was awesome and I was only two rows off the floor, giving me a perfect view of the entrance ramp and the ring.

In hindsight, what made this edition of Raw so special is it was the last public appearance of the Ultimate Warrior. Tragically, the following evening he passed away at the age of 54, after collapsing in front of his car with his wife beside him. It’s hard for me to fathom how such a young and seemingly healthy person could die out of the blue, especially since he just made peace with WWE’s CEO, Vince McMahon, and was finally recognized for his tremendous in-ring accomplishments. In a way, it’s poetic that he passed away after receiving the adulation he so rightly deserved and I’m glad I was there to witness it. However, I’m sad for his family, including his two young daughters, because they lost someone important to them. To make things even eerier, the Ultimate Warrior’s promo (i.e., speech while in character) on Raw was about a man’s memory and accomplishments living on long after his death. Thankfully, I filmed the whole thing. It was a bizarre case of foreshadowing.

Posing with an oversized version of the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania Axxess.

Posing with an oversized version of the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania Axxess.

My WrestleMania XXX weekend was excellent. I met fans from around the world, spent time with legendary wrestlers and saw amazing feats of athleticism and entertainment. While I may have witnessed the end of the Undertaker’s streak and the Ultimate Warrior’s last public appearances, I also saw the stars of tomorrow and enjoyed visiting a new city. This trip exceeded my expectations and I will gladly go to WrestleMania again in the future.

Review – Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour

Michael Jackson ImmortalFor my birthday, my girlfriend got us tickets to see Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia last week. I’m a big fan of the late, great Michael Jackson’s music, and I enjoyed the Cirque du Soleil performance her and I saw last year, Totem, so I was eager to see the Michael Jackson show. As a tribute to the music and life of Michael Jackson, The Immortal, is great. It cleverly mashes up all the greatest hits, while peppering in obscure songs that will make hardcore MJ fans smile. Unfortunately, as a Cirque du Soleil production, it’s just OK. Unlike Totem, it lacks the mind-blowing acrobatics that makes people catch their breath. And having the event in the Wells Fargo Center, a massive arena, as opposed to the traditional Cirque du Soleil tent, made the stage and dancers feel small and less impactful. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast. But I only recommend going to see Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour if you’re a big fan of Michael Jackson’s music.

To give you a taste of what to expect, below’s a preview of the show:

Review: Acer Iconia A1-830

Acer Iconia A1-830Below is my video review of the new Acer Iconia A1-830 tablet. Enjoy!

Book Review – WWE 50

50th Years Of WWEWWE 50 is a beautifully-bound hardback book that celebrates 50 years of the most iconic company in the history of sports entertainment. Below is my video review of WWE 50. The book comes out March 31 and you can buy it here.

 

Book Review – Missing You by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben - Missing YouI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Harlan Coben is my favorite author. His novels are replete with well-developed characters, believable dialogue, great humor, and they have more twists and turns than a steep mountain road. Coben’s last thriller, Six Years, was my favorite of 2013 and I just finished his new book, due out this Tuesday, Missing You. So, how does it measure up to last year’s offering? Read on, my curious friend.

My favorite part of Missing You is the inspiration for it’s title – the #1 1984 hit song “Missing You” by John Waite. Being a fan of all things ’80s, this brought a smile to my face and made me want to listen to John Waite, which, by the way, I’m doing right now as I write this review.

But let’s get back to the book. While it’s not quite as spectacular as Six YearsMissing You is a solid thriller that delivers the goods. The story’s protagonist, Kat Donovan, finds her ex-fiance on an online dating site and, as expected, things aren’t what they seem. This is an interesting premise and it pulled me in right from the start. In typical Coben fashion, there are multiple plots that eventually overlap, and he handles them deftly.

But where he really shines is the romantic scenes. For my money, Coben is the best author when it comes to writing a scene that conveys characters’ spoken – and unspoken – feelings toward one another. His books always move me at some point, and Missing You did so on numerous occasions.

The novel features a nice balance of dialogue and action, and the scenes where “business picks up” are edge-of-your-seat fun. If you’re a fan of thrillers or love Coben’s previous work, I think you’ll enjoy Missing You. It’s head and shoulders above the competition and the most fun you’ll have outside of listening to a John Waite song. I highly recommend it.

Below is the official synopsis, as well as the “Missing You” music video by John Waite that inspired the title of this book:

Synopsis 

It’s a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.

Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

As the body count mounts and Kat’s hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.

Author Interview: Ken Sharp

Ken Sharp

Gene Simmons, Ken Sharp and Paul Stanley.

I met Ken Sharp, the New York Times best-selling music biographer, on KISS Kruise III and I recently finished his latest book: Nothing’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975). It was fantastic and easily the most in-depth biography I’ve ever read. If you’re a KISS fan, a lover of pop culture or just someone who’s interested in fascinating origin stories, I highly recommend you read the book.

Below is my interview with Ken. We discuss Nothin’ to Lose, his love for KISS and we even talk about how John Waite brought us together, among other interesting topics. It’s a great interview and I hope you enjoy it.

How did you get into KISS? What’s your first memory of becoming a fan?

There was a neighbor down the street and he played guitar. I remember being at his house one day and he put on this record, which was KISS Alive! I believe it had just come out and he was showing me the cover and playing it. And I was blown away by the aggression and the melodic hooks and the fact that he was playing his electric guitar along with it. I think it was the whole package that inspired me, not only to become a KISS fan but also to start playing guitar. So, it was definitely a good introduction to the band and to the world of playing guitar. 

When did you first meet KISS?

The first time I met them was in December of ’76. I was backstage at a show on the Rock and Roll Over tour at the Spectrum in Philadelphia – I have a poster that was signed by them, it was amazing.

My mom was the first woman professional boxing judge in the world so she had contacts at the Spectrum and I begged her to call someone there to see if she knew someone that could introduce me to the band. She was able to coerce someone that she knew. She put me on the subway. I went to the show myself and I met someone around four in the afternoon and they brought me backstage, and I basically just waited in the backstage area till the band came. Not only did I meet them, I got to watch them do the soundcheck without makeup – this is all completely true. And I got them to sign autographs. I didn’t get pictures and I kind of regret that, but obviously they were without makeup so that wasn’t gonna’ happen. 

I met Bill Aucoin that night, and I befriended Carol Kaye who was a publicist for KISS in the ’70s. She worked at a place called Press Office in New York, and she invited me up one day to visit her and the day I went to see her Paul came into the office. So I met with Paul and got autographs, and another time when I came back in the ’70s I met Gene. I got to hang out with him, so that was a pretty amazing experience. I was young and impressionable so it really blew my mind. I first interviewed them, probably, in the early ’80s. But in terms of meeting them, I met them in ’76. 

I was mainly interviewing a lot of people that worked with them. Gene found out about that and he and Paul made themselves available. It was something that came together because of that – because of my idea of, hey, let me start interviewing as many people that worked with them. Whether it was Vinnie Poncia, who produced Dynasty and Unmasked or people that worked on the road crew and things like that, and it started there. 

In addition to writing about KISS, you have books about John Lennon and Elvis. How did you get involved in the music business and in writing?

It’s interesting. I went to Temple University and got a degree in Communications and I got a chance to work as an intern at a local Philly radio station called WYSP. And from there I befriended people at the station and the music director, Mark DiDia. He was a really good guy, and later turned out to be a really powerful guy in the business who worked with Capital Records and Geffen in real high-up positions and now he’s working in management. 

I was part of the hard rock show called the Metal Shop and I played a character on there called “Killer Ken” (laughs). And I wasn’t much of a killer but we had to take on these roles and I was about to do some interviews for that show and Mark DiDia really didn’t like doing interviews. He knew I was passionate about music so he had me interview people like Glen Tilbrook or Ozzy Osbourne or Bob Geldof, when Live Aid happened. I interviewed Yoko Ono over the phone. So, that basically started it up. 

I also started contributing articles to the music magazine Goldmine, and from there it kind of took off and has since resulted in me working on a lot of book projects. Obviously, my latest book being Nothin’ to Lose, but beyond KISS I’ve done books on everyone from John Lennon to Elvis to Cheap Trick to the Raspberries, people like that. That’s kind of how that fired my interest. 

KISS - Nothin' to LoseSpeaking of Nothin’ to Lose, how did it come to be?

Well, I’ve always been really fascinated with the beginning of things with artists. I’m a huge Beatles and Elvis fan – they’re actually my favorite artists – and I’ve always been really fascinated with Elvis’ early days. He was signed to a local label called Sun Records and played all the juke joints down south, and I was always really fascinated with those formative years. And the same thing with the Beatles – when they played Hamburg or were starting out in Liverpool, and I thought the same thing about KISS. I thought, wow, there’s never really been a book that’s really gone into great depth about that and let me see if I can do it. I started putting together some new interviews and things like that, and tracking down some people. I put 25,000 words together and I sent it to Gene with my proposal. He thought it was a good idea and it took off from there. 

How was it working with Gene and Paul for this book? Did they give you complete creative control or did you have to get their approval on the final manuscript since they were listed as co-authors?

Yeah, they were absolute princes about everything. Initially I was made a little worried that perhaps there’d be a lot of censorship but there was absolutely nothing like that. They wanted the story to be told, and they wanted it to be told not just with their voices but with the voices of the rest of the band, as well as all the different people that worked with them, whether it was producers, record company executives, publicists, concert promoters, costume designers, journalists, or engineers. It’s a wide swath of people that are telling their story and I think that’s what makes it unique and different. A lot of people know the story and I can’t reinvent what happened to them but what I can do is re-contextualize it and present it in a manner that creates a much larger tapestry so people can get a greater understanding of what happened. And there are even things that happened to the band in their career that they weren’t privy to. They weren’t there for every event that happened and there were things that happened, business-wise or with concert promoters, that they weren’t privy to, and them reading about it in the book was an eye opener. 

They were absolutely complete gentlemen and certainty made themselves available all the time for interviews and things like that, and they really let me take the lead to shape what I was able to accomplish.  

This is the most detailed KISS book I’ve ever read, and perhaps the most detailed music book I’ve ever read.

Yeah, some reviews said, “I’m surprised he didn’t interview the custodian at Electric Lady” (laughs). The reason why is because I couldn’t track him down. I’m just joking. I certaintly could have stopped a lot earlier (laughs). I interviewed over 200 people for the book. I could have stopped after 75 people, but it’s kind of like when you’re working on a song, you kind of know when you’re done. It was at that point that I felt like I’d exhausted people from that era. But there’s always going to be people that pop out of the woodwork after a project is done. There have been a few people that popped up since I worked on the project but overall I think I did a pretty admirable job of digging up plenty of people from that time period to present the most complete portrait of the band. It was satisfying to track down all of these people. I almost had to be a detective in a way. 

KISS 1976 1From start to finish, how long did it take to complete Nothin’ to Lose?

Probably about four years, I would say. Yeah, it was a lot of work, and people have asked me in interviews or otherwise, “So, you’re obviously starting on the follow-up?” That’s actually not true. I thought about it, but to throw myself back into that and shut out the world for a few years at a time to do that, I’m not sure I’m ready to do that. But I’m working on other projects that are not KISS-related. But it was a really time-consuming and exhausting project, and I feel really satisfied with the results. 

Nothin’ to Lose is filled with comments from nearly every person that came into contact with the KISS during this era. Some of this content is pulled from previous interviews and articles but a good portion of it was gathered first-hand by you. How did you go about speaking with so many musicians, producers, and everyone in between, about KISS?

Having been a part of the music business since the early ’80s and dealing with publicists, I did what I had to do to track down people, and one person would lead to another. It certainly wasn’t a case of someone presenting me with a list of 200 people to talk to. It was a really a case of being a detective and tracking down people, especially people outside of the norm. It really required a lot of legwork and a lot of hours of endless digging through a variety of sources to track people down and gain a lot of confidences. There were people that may have been not initially wanting to talk or not interested, and I had to persuade them that this wasn’t a hatchet job the band was doing – it was really me trying to capture the essence of what the band was doing at that time as best as I could. 

I would say 90% of the interviews in the book were done first-hand by me, and I pride myself on that. But there are a few instances where I had to tap into interviews from the past. 

KISS - Alive!Speaking of interviews, Ace and Peter’s thoughts are featured throughout the book. Are all of these comments from previous interviews or did you speak with them for this book?

I went to both of them requesting interviews and they were both working on their own book projects, so it’s understandable why they couldn’t participate. But I wanted to give them as much of a voice as I could. I interviewed them before – quite a few times – and they’re a part of it. Their input is not as great as Paul and Gene’s but they’re certainly not ignored. What’s interesting to me is before the book came out people saw that Gene and Paul’s names were on it and they thought it was going to be a complete bashfest of Ace and Peter. But that was completely not the case. 

This was a much more positive story because this was a period of time when everyone was getting along and they were aligned with the same ambition. If I jump into doing a part two, the next period, where the band broke through – from ’76 to ’79 – that was a pretty difficult period for the guys in the band. While they achieved huge heights of success, the excess and divisions started to form. The problems with Ace and Peter, with drinking and drugs, came to the fore. So, while a book about that era would be interesting, it would be a bit more depressing than the era that I covered. 

How did it feel to become a New York Times best-selling author with Nothin’ to Lose?

That was an amazing feeling. It’s kind of a like a one-hit wonder breaking into the top 10. People can forget about them but they can always say they made the top 10. If it’s only one time for me, I’m fine with that. It was quite a surprise and certainly one that I celebrated. I’ve done over 15 books and I’ve never had one make the New York Times bestseller list, let alone in the top 10. So to break in at number nine was really, really satisfying. I certainly have to give Paul and Gene the major props for that because with them being kind enough to go out and do some book signings, I’m sure that certainly helped us. It was quite a surprise and definitely something that put a smile on my face. 

Kiss Rock GroupKnowing how long Nothin’ to Lose took to complete, if Gene and Paul came to you asking for a second book would you be open to it?

Yeah, possibly. But it was so much work, and I’m the world’s worst typist. I type with two fingers. So, you can imagine, to transcribe interviews – that in itself is torture. An interview that is an hour could take me five or six hours to transcribe (laughs). And by the time I’m done, my fingers are numb. Just that amount of work was difficult. If I could have someone transcribe my interviews then I could begin work on the narrative, and that would certainly make things easier. But still, it would require such a huge amount of work. I’m shocked I was able to pull this book off because I was still working a full-time job at that time.

I really did work hard to track down as many photos as I could that were previously unseen or rare. I really wanted to make every image count as best as I could in the book, and that was also a difficult proposition working with ’73 to ’75 because it’s an era that’s less documented than ’76 onward, obviously, as the band became more popular. So that was a great challenge, but I’m real pleased with the images in the book and there’s an additional 22 images in the e-book version. 

You also wrote KISS: Behind the Mask and KISS Army Worldwide: The Ultimate Fanzine Phenomenon with Gene and Paul. Do you have a favorite among the three?

Not because it’s the newest book, but I think I would say Nothin’ to Lose because I think it hangs together really well. I love that period of time of KISS’ career. It was for me, from a selfish point of view, a way to live vicariously through those times by doing this book. In a way, the book was for me as much as it was for other KISS fans. I would definitely say that Nothin’ to Lose, by far, is my favorite book out of all the KISS projects. 

John Waite - Live All AccessWhen you and I met on KISS Kruise III, you were wearing a Babys t-shirt and we chatted briefly about John Waite, a fantastic musician and vocalist. 

(laughs) Yeah, I love that Babys shirt and I even wore it during my meet and greet photo with KISS (laughs). I’m a big fan of the Babys and John Waite, who I recently interviewed for a Goldmine cover story. 

Speaking of John Waite, I saw a couple videos online of you jamming with his band on guitar last fall. How did that come about what was it like being on stage?

Talk about an amazing moment. I got to play three songs with him at a private show in the valley in California. And I got to play two Babys songs with him – “Midnight Rendezvous” and “Head First.”  Then we ended with a cover of “Money,” which was a song the Beatles used to do and, actually, the Babys covered it. I came up with the idea of doing that. When we were doing the soundcheck I started playing that riff and John just started singing along and we ran through it, and I didn’t think anything else of it. Then, later that day, I saw the set list and saw that they added “Money” as the encore. 

My god, I saw the Babys only once in 1980 and it was, probably, one of my top three concerts of all time – them at the Tower Theater in Philly for the Union Jacks tour. It was such a spectacular show. And for me to be able to be on the same stage, even for just a small period of time, playing guitar on classic Babys songs with John Waite – one of my musical heroes – was certainly a mind-blower (laughs). I’m not sure I’m worthy of it, but it was great. 

What’s your connection with John and how did you two meet?

The first time I met him was in 1982 for his first solo album Ignition, and I met him at the location where I’d later work as an intern: WYSP. It’s really interesting how that all ties together. I found out that he was doing an interview that day and he was opening a show at the Tower – that was his first solo tour – for 38 Special. I had front-row tickets and went with a friend, and we waited in the lobby of the radio station. Eventually the elevator opened and there was John Waite with a guy from Chrysalis Records and he couldn’t be nicer. We took a bunch of photos with him, and that was the first time I met him. The first time I interviewed him was probably two years later.  

Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like fans to be aware of?

I’m finishing up a book on 60 session players in LA known as The Wrecking Crew. They played on all the popular records from the ’60s, everything from “Good Vibrations” to “Be My Baby” to “I Think I Love You.” It’s an oral history about that whole music explosion in LA and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys did the forward, and Glen Campbell, who’s part of The Wrecking Crew, did the afterward. It’s a really cool book with a ton of color photos throughout. It’s probably the most visually appealing project I’ve done. I’m working on that and I have a few other ideas in mind. 

Monster-Mania 27: Meeting Robert Englund

200

Meeting Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund.

This past weekend I went to Monster-Mania 27, a horror convention in Cherry Hill, NJ. This was my second Monster-Mania and I had a good time. My main reason for going was to meet Robert Englund, a terrific actor best known for playing Freddy Krueger in seven Nightmare on Elm Street films and Freddy vs. Jason. While it took six hours for me to meet Englund, I was able to check out the rest of the convention during this time because of a virtual queue the organizers put in place. They did this to prevent people from having to waiting in line all day. As long as you had your ticket – they limited it to 400 people – you were set. I found this to be an efficient way to deal with the demand to meet this horror icon.

During my time waiting to meet Robert Englund I looked at all of the merchandise available – everything from masks to t-shirts, to paintings, to movie posters. Then I walked through the autograph room where the majority of the stars were stationed, including Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters and Tony Todd from Candyman, as well as various cast members of The Walking Dead. I abstained from spending money on anything other than Robert Englund and food because I’m heading to WrestleMania XXX in a few weeks, so I’d rather spend my money there.

Spending time with a Freddy look-a-like before meeting the real deal.

Spending time with a Freddy look-a-like before meeting the real deal.

When it was my turn to go upstairs to meet Robert Englund, I headed up the stairs to the second floor of the hotel and was told to wait in a room with approximately 50 people. Then one of the convention volunteers told us that Robert Englund’s agent wouldn’t allow people to take a photo with him – we could only take photos of him, which to me was extremely disappointing because that was my whole reason for going. When I was led into the room with Robert Englund, there were about 100 people sitting in chairs and he was on the far end of the room against the wall. Row by row, people were ushered to the front where they turned in their tickets and paid $40 for an autograph. There were photos available for Robert to sign or you could have an item that you brought with you signed. I opted to have him sign the sleeve of my Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray collection.

Despite being told I couldn’t get a photo with Robert, I had the girl in front of me take of photo of him and I with my phone. I couldn’t go around the table for the photo because a bodyguard was there, but I made the most of it and I think the photo turned out quite nice. When we were posing for the photo, Robert said, “Tell me when to look up” as he was autographing my item. The girl taking the photo said, “Look up” and Robert jokingly said in his Freddy Krueger voice, “Take the picture, biotch!” When we left she was on cloud nine that he spoke to her in his Freddy voice and we both laughed hysterically about what a cool moment it was.

202After meeting Robert Englund, I grabbed dinner and attended the Q&A session for the twins from The Shining and, of course, Robert Englund’s Q&A, which was fantastic. He had a ton of energy and took command of the stage, like any great actor, and answered questions from the fans with humor and charisma. One thing that became abundantly clear during his Q&A is that Robert’s a lover of classic Hollywood. Being a Shakespearean actor, Robert Englund has a deep appreciation for classic cinema and the stage. It was made for an enlightening experience that everyone enjoyed.

Robert Englund speaking with fans after his Q&A.

Robert Englund speaking with fans after his Q&A.

I closed out the night by watching the 1994 film The Crow, one of many movies being shown throughout the day. I hadn’t seen it since the mid-1990s, and I’m glad I stuck around for it because it’s a great movie. From the cinematography to the impressive acting, it’s clear why this film still resonates with people 20 years after it hit theaters.

If you’re a horror fan in the South Jersey area, I highly recommend you check out Monster-Mania. It’s a well-run convention that’s well worth the price of admission. You can learn more details by visiting the official Monster-Mania website.

 

Review – Night Songs by Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow - Night SongsI’ve been telling people for years that Barry Manilow is one of the most underrated musicians of all time. In addition to being a terrific vocalist and a consummate showman, Manilow is a top-rate lyricist, composer, producer, and musician. His new album, Night Songs, puts Manilow’s talents on full display in this stripped-down jazzy affair where he’s featured on vocals, piano and bass.

If you enjoyed Manilow’s 1984 concept album 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe, you will love Night Songs. Manilow breathes life into 16 lesser-known standards to create a beautiful collection of music that will please both hardcore and casual fans. It’s the perfect album to play if you’re looking to relax after a long day at work or if you’re trying to set the mood for a romantic evening at home. Whether you’re a Barry Manilow fan or just someone who enjoys sophisticated and sexy music, you owe it to yourself to pick up Night Songs. 

The official release date for Night Songs is March 25 but you can purchase it right now on Barry Manilow’s official website.

Below is a track-by-track review of the album:

“I Fall In Love Too Easily” 

  • This 1944 song by legendary lyricist Sammy Cahn has never sounded better. It’s the perfect song to kick off the album because it embodies the spirit of Night Songs and sets the tone for the album. The vocal on this track is heartfelt and full of emotion without being over the top, and the piano and bass are beautiful.

“Alone Together”

  • “Alone Together” is a jazz standard composed by Arthur Schwartz with lyrics by Howard Dietz. It was first introduced to the public in the 1932 musical Flying Colors and became a hit the same year for Leo Reisman and his orchestra. Prior to this album, I never heard this song but I’m glad it was included. It has an interesting chord progression, a jazzy bridge and a funky bass that keeps things lively.

“Blame It On My Youth” 

  • This beautiful little song written by Oscar Levant and Edward Heyman in 1934 is perfect for Manilow’s voice and conjures up memories of his tribute album to Frank Sinatra: Manilow Sings Sinatra. This isn’t surprising because Sinatra covered this song on his 1957 album Close To You. It’s easily one of my favorite tracks on the album.

“I Get Along Without You Very Well”

  • Composed by Hoagy Carmichael in 1939, this song features lyrics based on a poem written by Jane Brown Thompson. It’s a beautifully sad song about a relationship that has come to an end and the denial associated with it. Think of it as a combination of the John Waite song “Missing You” and Robert Goulet’s “If Ever I Would Leave You” from the musical Camelot – only much prettier. Manilow’s emotive vocal on this number is perfect for the subject matter and the piano is gorgeous.

“You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me”

  • “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me” is a wonderfully jazzy song with an infectious melody that will have you playing it over and over again. This song originally appeared in the film version of the musical 42nd Street, and it’s abundantly clear that Manilow loves this number because it comes through in his fun, upbeat vocal.

“It Amazes Me” 

  • This song is the title track of Liza Minnelli’s second studio album, and it’s a poignant track about being loved. Manilow’s vocals are spot on and sincere. Hopefully this moving rendition with help this song get the attention it deserved when it was first released in 1965.

“But Not For Me” 

  • Similar to “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me,” this is a lovely upbeat number that provides a nice break in between the more serious songs. It’s been sung by everyone from Judy Garland to Rod Stewart, yet Manilow’s version still comes off as fun and fresh.

“It’s A New World” 

  • Judy Garland is one of Manilow’s greatest influences so it’s not surprising that he included a song she sang in the 1954 musical film A Star Is Born. It’s a gorgeous piano-driven number that Manilow delivers with style and grace. Judy would be proud.

“While We’re Young” 

  • This pleasant mid-tempo ballad from the 1940s was previously sung by artists including Peggy Lee and Perry Como. Manilow delivers a strong vocal on this track and makes it his own.

“You Don’t Know What Love Is”

  • First made popular by Broadway star Carol Bruce, “You Don’t Know What Love Is” has been covered by various artists since its inception in 1941, and it appeared on the soundtrack for the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley. Like many songs from this era, it’s short yet substantive – and Manilow’s sultry rendition is spellbinding.

“Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive”

  • On 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe Manilow put music to an unreleased Johnny Mercer song: “When October Goes.” Therefore, it’s not surprising that Manilow should pay tribute to Mercer by singing “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” on this album. This is arguably the most upbeat number on Night Songs and Manilow clearly had a great time recording it. Between the jazzy piano and the infectious melody, this is one track you’ll have a hard time getting out of your head.

“My One And Only Love” 

  • This song first made popular by Frank Sinatra in 1953 is deftly sung and played by Manilow. The bridge is lovely and the vocal is hauntingly beautiful. Simply stated: it’s gorgeous.

“I’ve Never Been In Love Before”

  • From the 1950 musical Guys and Dolls, this song features a high-energy performance from Manilow. Not only does he’s joyfully play the piano and deliver a swing-infused vocal, the listener is also treated to some great scat singing.

“I Walk A Little Faster” 

  • This obscure standard written by Cy Coleman was most notably sung by Fiona Apple in 2009, and it’s clever lyrics tell the story of a person who is hopeful that true love is just around the corner. It has a unique melody and a chorus that builds in a fascinating way. As will all the tracks on this album, Manilow’s performance is solid and sincere.

“Here’s That Rainy Day”

  • First introduced in the 1953 musical Carnival in Flanders, this song was composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and it features lyrics by Johnny Burke. Frank Sinatra recorded it in 1959 and it hasn’t received much attention since then. While somber, Manilow’s delivery drives home the meaning of the song and forces the listener to appreciate its wonderful lyrics.

“Some Other Time” 

  • Night Songs comes to a close with a Leonard Bernstein song from the 1944 Broadway musical On the Town. As the song states: “Just when the fun is starting, comes the time for parting. But let’s just be glad for what we’ve had and what’s to come.” Let’s indeed. I couldn’t think of a better way to end a great album.

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