Barry Manilow – Music & Passion: Live In Las Vegas
Sound: B- Extras: B- Concert: B-
Barry Manilow, a name that is very divisive among music
fans. Many do not like him, yet many
others do and he has retained a remarkably diehard fan base since his first
appearance with Bell Records in 1972.
That company became Arista Records and he was one of the primary acts
that made the label a powerhouse into the 1980s and to date. Nearly 35 years later, the former jingle
advertising writer still has his voice and old-fashioned showmanship, giving up
taxing touring for a long stint at the Las Vegas Hilton in the recently taped Barry
Manilow – Music & Passion: Live In Las Vegas.
Hot on the heels of his big-selling 1950s cover album Greatest
Songs Of The 50s, Rhino has issued a double DVD set of the concert, with
the first disc devoted solely to the concert.
Directed by David Mallet, whose work includes concerts and Music Videos
for Tina Turner ands David Bowie would seem like an odd choice to do anything
with Manilow. Instead, it is top-rate
talent like Mallet makes sense considering how much money it took to put
Manilow’s show together. A hot ticket
in Vegas, it matches the perceived gaudiness of Manilow with the city’s sparkle
by sparkle. Most Hip Hop acts don’t try
this much bling bling, but that’s another story.
Of nearly three-dozen songs, Manilow is at his best
covering his own hits, but runs into trouble with other’s hits. Some of his choices of 1950s hits are so
mixed that he cannot ruin them, but Unchained Melody just does not work
in his hands and to be blunt, most do not.
Except for clever covers like Dionne Warwick’s in the later 1960s, the
Les Baxter hit that became a Righteous Brothers classic is usually best left
alone. The Righteous Brothers could not
even outdo their original recording a few decades later for Dirty Dancing.
Mandy and Could It Be Magic? are done as a medley
and with old video footage of him being projected on a giant screen, giving him
the opportunity to have a duet with himself!
Good thing they are his best records.
Then there is the They Dance! segment that includes that song and
three other classics. Manilow attempts
to cover the Earth, Wind & Fire/Three Degrees duet Boogie Wonderland,
leaves an unknown female guest to sing Donna Summer’s Disco classic Hot
Stuff while he dances and another young man Raps (!!!) and they wrap it up
with Stevie Wonder’s older hit Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours. It is the most bizarre and amusing (intended
and not) moment in the program. Whether
you are a Manilow fan or not, you have to see this one to believe it.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image from the
concert (also in some of the extra clips) looks as good as any digital High
Definition on DVD we have seen to date.
Thanks to director Mallet’s past experience, this program benefits in
how to shoot concert material in this format correctly. The Dolby Digital 5.1 has some good
surrounds, but is a bit weak on the subwoofer/LFE sound, something absent in a
previous Manilow DVD release. Extras
appear on DVD 2 and include three music clips (the first two anamorphic) with
Manilow singing Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again, Even Now and Unchained
Melody, stills and two featurettes on Manilow. One is a behind the scenes of this program, another a
PBS-produced video diary of the event.
That will make fans particularly happy.
- Nicholas Sheffo