Thursday, February 21, 2008

Barry Manilow: Songs From The Seventies

Written by Hombre Divertido

Barry Manilow has aged gracefully and unlike other stars of that era still manages to hit all the right notes. The production company and marketing staff may have let him down here. This appears to be a project that does not know what it wants to be. The direction is strained, and the show as a whole lacks continuity.

Reading the title on the cover of the DVD package one might think that what we are getting is a special featuring Barry Manilow’s hits from the seventies. That is not exactly the case here. This television special does contain many of Manilow’s hits of that decade, though he fails to realize that his fan base does not want to hear new renditions of the classics.

What we also get is Barry covering other songs of the seventies, though it is not clear how they were chosen. His covers of “My Eyes Adored You,” “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother,” etc. are fine, but not really what the fans want to hear. To have these songs on the special, and some of Barry’s hits relegated to a melody of other seventies songs was disappointing, especially since this production is only seventy-five minutes long, and the second disc is nothing but filler.

When Barry sits down at the piano and plays such hits such as “Mandy,” the audience truly gets what it wants, and had the direction gone towards this simple concept throughout, the project would have been much more enjoyable to watch. Manilow works well while sitting at the keyboard, and seems awkward and uncomfortable when up and moving around. This is most obvious in the closing number of “One Voice.”

At one point we are shown a photo of Barry from that era, and it gleans an excellent response from the studio audience. This of course begs the question as to why a photo retrospective was not used along with footage from that era. Stretching this out to two hours with full renditions of all the songs and a visual retrospective of the era would have been far more appealing than hearing Barry cover other songs.

Not really any extras here. Though the second disk states that it contains “Extra Special Outtakes.” That is quite generous. It feels more like someone decided that they needed a second disk, and threw something on it.

Recommendation: Manilow is still a charismatic singer, and hits some of the songs with great energy. The sound quality is excellent so this is worth buying to listen to, but watching it lessens the enjoyment.

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