Michael Cavacini

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Archive for the tag “Manilow”

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.

Music Review – 15 Minutes by Barry Manilow

15 MinutesBarry Manilow’s 15 Minutes came out in 2011, and, at the time, it was his first album of original material in 10 years. It’s an excellent collection of music filled with dynamic vocals and infectious melodies. If you’re a Barry Manilow fan that enjoyed Here At The Mayflower, you’ll love it. It’s a concept album that follows the story of young man’s rise to fame and fall from grace.

15 Minutes kicks off with a 1-2-3 punch; the title track is a guitar-laden, country inspired, mid-tempo rocker that sets the tone for the album. The second track, “Work the Room,” is a funky song where Barry expertly raps the lyrics. If you’ve ever had to look for a job and go to a networking event, you’ll appreciate this song. “Bring On Tomorrow” rounds out the first three tracks, and it’s a classic Barry power ballad. Filled with beautiful lyrics, a gorgeous arrangement and soaring vocals, this track is one of the best on the album. Needless to say, I love it!

The fourth track, “Now It’s For Real,” is another guitar heavy track that finds the album’s main character realizing that he’s achieved the success he was after. Barry sounds like he had a lot of fun recording this song and it comes through in his impassioned vocal.

“Wine Song” gives the listener an inside view into how the young star’s life has changed. Now he’s surrounded by people who constantly tell him they love him and that he’s beautiful. This, along with the drinking and drugs, foreshadows what’s to come.

The next song is an interesting one because it’s a reworked track from Barry’s Trying To Get The Feeling album from the 1970s. This time around it’s called “He’s A Star,” and it’s a fun upbeat pop/rock song that fits this album perfectly.

The following two songs deal with relationships. “Written in Stone” focuses on the deteriorating romantic relationship that seemed so strong in “Bring on Tomorrow.” It shows that the young star has done a poor job in handling his new-found fame; and, in doing so, he has destroyed a relationship he held so dear. “Letter from a Fan/So Heavy, So High” starts off with a haunting vocal by Nataly Dawn as an obsessive fan, and she does an excellent job. This juxtaposed with Barry’s vocal about becoming tired of dealing with these kinds of fans, effectively shows two different points of view.

The brief track “Everybody’s Leavin,” segues into the following tracks. As everyone starts to desert the star, he literally says “Who Needs You” to those that once supported him and wonders if fame is worth the price in “Winner Go Down.”

“Slept through the End of The World” is a beautiful acoustic song that conjures up visions of a star that’s at the end of his rope. It’s where he comes to terms with the fact that he is no longer the star he once was because he didn’t handle fame the way he should have.

“Reflection” is a beautiful piano interlude that leads into “Trainwreck.” During this song, the performer realizes what went wrong and is ready to start over. He recognizes that what happened in the past is behind him, and he must move forward. This recognition culminates in the reprise of “15 Minutes” where he is determined to do things right this time around.

The album closes with the disco-infused “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right.” It’s a fun track that is reminiscent of “They Dance!” from “Here At The Mayflower.” It’s an infectious pop song that is bound to get stuck in your head.

Overall, 15 Minutes is a solid album. The majority of the songs are excellent, and the narrative is engaging. Barry’s voice is in good form, and the arrangements are top notch. If you’re a fan of Barry Manilow, or just good music, I highly recommend this album. You won’t be disappointed.

Below are live performances of a few of my favorite tracks from the album. Enjoy!

 

Thanksgiving: Count Your Blessings

While we should always be thankful for what we have and those that love us, now is the perfect time to reflect on this. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite songs: “Count Your Blessings.” Below are the lyrics and a video of Barry Manilow’s beautiful rendition of the song. Happy Thanksgiving!

Count Your Blessings

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
Then one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings

And I fall asleep counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
Then one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings

Barry Manilow Returns To Broadway

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Tony, Grammy and Emmy-Award winning performer Barry Manilow is returning to Broadway in January 2013 for a limited engagement at the St. James Theatre. With 49 Top 40 hits and worldwide sales of more than 80 million records, Manilow on Broadway marks the music legend’s third Broadway production, and his first in more than two decades. The show begins January 18 and opens on January 24.

Barry Manilow is one of my favorite musicians, and I’ve had the good fortune of seeing him perform live twice, as well as meeting him in person. At nearly 70 years old, his voice is mystifyingly powerful and he still knows how to dazzle a crowd. I plan on attending one of the shows, and I highly recommend you do the same.

Here’s a medley of Manilow’s most popular hits from his 1989 Broadway production, Barry Manilow at the Gershwin:

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