Produced by Ron Dante best known as the vocalist behind ‘Sugar, Sugar’ and other hits for The Archies, Barry Manilow’s second album is a tour-de-force of singer/songwriter pop 70’s style.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Barry Manilow
ALBUM: Barry Manilow II
LABEL: Arista Records
CD REISSUE: 2006, Arista, 82876-81237-2
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Barry Manilow – vocals, piano * Stuart Scharf, Dickie Frank, Charlie Brown, John Barranco, Bob Mann, Sam Brown – guitars * Jon Stroll – electric piano, clavinet * Will Lee, Russell George – bass * Jimmy Young, Bill Lavorgna, Christopher Parker – drums * Norman Pride – congas * Lee Gurst – percussion * Artie Kaplan, Stan Schwartz – saxophone * Charlotte Crossley, Robin Grean, Sharon Red, Ron Dante – background vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 I Want To Be Somebody’s Baby * 02 Early Morning Strangers * 03 Mandy * 04 The Two Of Us * 05 Something’s Comin’ Up * 06 It’s A Miracle * 07 Avenue C * 08 My Baby Loves Me * 09 Sandra * 10 Home Again
WEBLINKS: Site Link
There was a time when admitting you liked Barry Manilow was certain death for anyone’s musical credibility. After all, in the 1970’s he was a supreme balladeer loved by housewives from coast to coast that rarely left the top of the charts, the anti-Christ in most hard rockers minds, and oh yeah there was that gay bath house past..
Ok, lets try to be clear historically. Manilow cut his teeth live as a keyboard player for the up and coming Bette Midler, even producing her second album. Dating one of the New York Dolls who were the cats meow in the Gay underground, Midler decided with Manilow in tow, to tour the same establishments that created such a buzz for the Dolls.
A gig is a gig and an audience is an audience I guess. End of story, but it’s something that has continued to stick with Manilow which is unfortunate and short-sighted to be honest. Talented to the max and with Clive Davis shadowing his career, no one could touch Barry in the 70’s and we can all hum at least one Manilow tune right?
Produced by Ron Dante best known as the vocalist behind ‘Sugar, Sugar’ and other hits for The Archies, Manilow’s second album is a tour-de-force of singer/songwriter pop 70’s style. I have always loved Barry’s vocal style and his arrangements are without fault. The opening three tracks, in particular the sultry ‘Early Morning Strangers’ and the smash single ‘Mandy’.
One of the most beautiful ballads of the decade, it was presented to Manilow by Clive Davis as ‘Brandy’ with the title changed due to the Looking Glass hit of the same name. This song can still bring tears to my eyes I am not afraid to say. Simply gorgeous and this was Manilow’s gift – bringing passion and emotion to songs that would be mere pap on anyone else’s records.
The other tune worthy of mention, although they are all varied and good, is the second single ‘It’s A Miracle’. A driving rock song and a killer hook, thirty four years later it still sounds fresh and vibrant as the day it was recorded.
Manilow’s best album (I think) would follow with 1975’s ‘Tryin’ To Get The Feelin’, but this album is a fine place to start as well his debut which contained the hit ‘Could It Be Magic’. Yeah, Manilow’s music will not do the same for you as an AOR favourite or hard rock classic, but it has its place and when it comes to soft rock, few do it better than Barry Manilow.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)
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