Raspy rocker Michael Des Barres just released Hot ‘n Sticky Live, an album showcasing a blistering performance he gave at the Viper Room in Hollywood, CA. In addition to tracks from Des Barres’ excellent studio recording, Carnaby Street, this live album includes interpretations of classic rock and pop songs, as well as material from the singer’s previous musical endeavors. It’s an all-killer-no-filler affair that’s short, sweet and packs a punch. The band is tight and Des Barres’ soulful vocals bring the infectious melodies to life in a way that’ll have you singing the songs long after they’ve stopped playing. In a day and age where popular music is overproduced and underdeveloped, Hot ‘n Sticky Live is a raw and gritty reminder that rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well.
Thanks to my friend, Mary, I was recently able to get my hands on a copy of Barry Manilow’s out-of-print album, Here Comes The Night. Originally released in 1982, this was Manilow’s 12th record and the studio album that preceded it was If I Should Love Again, which was filled with beautiful ballads including “Somewhere Down The Road” and my favorite, “The Old Songs.”
After having listened to Here Comes The Night several times, I have to say I think it’s a shame that it’s not available to the public. It’s a wonderful collection of music. And while the album went platinum, it didn’t spawn as many hits as it should have. I blame this on Arista because the music quality was top notch. Below are my six favorite songs out of the album’s 11 tracks.
“Here Comes The Night”
This song is spectacular. It’s a traditional Barry Manilow power ballad that soars. Between the gorgeous arrangement and heartfelt vocal, I get lost every time I listen to it. This track should have been a monster hit, but it wasn’t. I’d love to hear Barry perform it live the next time I see him; it’s one of his most underrated numbers.
“Memory” is the most popular song from Cats, the 1981 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s a beautiful song that many artists have covered, including Barbra Streisand, whose version of the song charted lower than Manilow’s. Anytime Barry Manilow sings a Broadway show tune, I listen with rapt attention. His voice is perfect for these kinds of songs and he knows how to make them sound magnificent. This is one of his best.
“Some Kind Of Friend”
I would classify this as a rock-infused pop song. It has a harder edge to it than the other music on the album, but it’s still as infectious as Manilow’s other hits. The funky synthesizer, descriptive lyrics and catchy chorus make this a song that gets stuck in my head frequently.
“I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter”
Here’s a song that’s been covered by everyone from Nat “King” Cole to Paul McCartney. It’s simple, funny and catchy as hell. And when I hear Barry Manilow’s version, it makes me think of Elvis. It has that rockabilly sound “The King” was known for; and when listening to Manilow’s recording, it’s clear he had a lot of fun with this number.
“Getting Over Losing You”
What a terrific melody. The chord progression in this song is simply wonderful. It tells a great story, the vocal is spectacular and just like “Here Comes The Night,” it should have been a massive hit. I love it.
One of the things that makes Barry Manilow a great live act is he performs the songs he enjoys – not just the hits. About a year or two ago, he started adding “Stay” to his set and longtime fans loved it. This sexy mid-tempo number is another song that didn’t get the attention it deserved. The haunting chorus is one that I find myself singing long after the song has ended.