Barry Manilow – First & Farewell DVD-Video
concerts + “The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties” CD
Picture: C-/C+ Sound: C/B-/B- Extras: C- Concerts: B- Music: C-
Manilow comeback blitz continues with a new DVD concert set with an unusual
twist and another covers CD that is possibly worse than the last one. First
& Farewell offers his very first videotaped (or otherwise recorded)
full length concert from November 1974 in black and white. The second disc offers a November 2004 set with
al the bells and whistles from his farewell tour. Then there is the Greatest Songs Of The Sixties set that has him attempting to cover
some of the greatest songs of the decade simply because he and Clive Davis can
afford the royalties.
at the beginning, the 1974 concert was taped on reel-to-reel Sony black and
white videotape that is lucky it has 240 lines of definition if that. It can be hard to watch, but is still
interesting to watch as he goes through most unfamiliar songs, though It’s A Miracle and Could It Be Magic? would put him on the map, though he had cut a
version of Magic in 1971 for Bell
Records, the label that became his home label Arista. Besides a few standards (Shadow Of Your Smile and Hello,
Dolly are done as a brief medley) what is most interesting are all the
jingles that put him on the map within the industry that he performs here for
nine different products. That may be the
unintentional highlight of all these releases.
concert is on par with the Music &
Passion: Live In Las Vegas DVD set we recently covered on the site, though
minus his massacre of the 1950s hit from the Vegas set. Daybreak,
I Write The Songs (which he famously
did not write), Can’t Smile Without You,
Even Now, Mandy and Copacabana are
among the songs he hit big with and performs here for likely the several
thousandth time. At least he delivers
what his audience wants.
2006 CD is a whole different affair.
Since his cover of 1950s songs was his biggest album in a very, very
long time, why not the next decade.
Let’s see what he did here:
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You is an early solo smash for
Frankie Valli of The Four Seasons that was again immortalized by Michael
Cimino’s masterwork The Deer Hunter
in 1978 about Vietnam. Well, you’ll feel
like you walked the killing fields after listening to his gutting-out of this
classic. There’s never a rabid deer
around when you need one.
Cherish/Windy is an inept medley of two
classics by The Association that is just dull and awful minus the whimsy and
fun that made the originals so much fun.
This is credited as a duet with the vocal group, but they sound more
like session singers than the original band.
These songs hit in 1966 and 1967 respectively, but these covers are just
disrespectful. There used to be an early
Sesame Street segment where a Muppet is flying around to Windy. To bad he didn’t run into the recoding studio
to stop this from final mix. Manilow’s
version is so slow that it is more like a mild breeze. Note he did not cover Along Comes Mary!
Can’t Help Falling In Love is the 1962 Elvis Presley classic
that was already gutted out by UB40 in 1993 and featured in the Sharon Stone
thriller Sliver (reviewed elsewhere
on this site), but Manilow’s version will make you want to stab yourself
repeatedly. No reggae here though.
There’s A Kind Of Hush is the 1967 Herman’s Hermits
classic (see their SACD this set elsewhere on this site that The Carpenters
were roundly criticized for remaking into their own big hit. We’ll after hearing this Manilow cover,
you’ll believe Karen could have successfully joined The Go-Gos! Here’s one hush to skip.
Blue Velvet is the 1963 Bobby Vinton classic
made famous again by the David Lynch film classic about the horror of the
suburbs and other hidden sides of Americana.
Covers like this helped build that nightmare.
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head is the great B.J. Thomas hit
record from the hit 1969 film Butch
Cassidy & The Sundance Kid that topped the charts early in 1970. Manilow stretches out every word to the point
of self-satire (as if that had not happened with the first record) and it is a
wreck with no depth, nuance, heart or soul.
And I Love Her is Manilow’s cover of The Beatles
1964 classic that makes The Monkees sound like Radiohead by comparison. This is easily one of the worst songs in an
album chock-full of them.
This Guy’s In Love With You was a big solo hit for Herb
Alpert in 1968 (and Dionne Warwick with a slight change in 1969) that worked
extraordinarily well for them. Too bad Manilow
sings it with such sluggishness and over-deliberateness that you never believe
him for one minute.
Everybody Loves Somebody is a Dean Martin classic from
1964 that was one of his biggest-ever this and launched his Reprise Records
era. It is so bad, you will hope Manilow
hits himself in the eye with a big pizza pie, but that would be such a waste of
good food (unless form a bad chain).
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling is the oft-covered Righteous
Brothers classic is another really awful song here that makes the Hall &
Oates hit version sound like an R&B classic. Manilow sounds like he feels nothing
here. You will not either.
When I Fall In Love is a great hit record from 1962
from the underrated vocal group The Letterman, but wow, did he botch this
one! That group was always accused of
being to light and airy. In comparison,
Manilow’s version makes the original sound like material for No Doubt or The
Red Hot Chili Peppers!
Strangers In The Night is the Frank Sinatra classic
overexposed and not even producer Phil Ramone can save this cover from being a
disaster. The original was last used for
a glowing watch commercial. Staring at
the face of a broken watch has more excitement than this!
What The World Needs Now Is Love was a big hit for Jackie
DeShannon in 1965 and one of the few Bacharach/David classics Dionne Warwick
does not have the definitive version of, though Miss Warwick did cut an
exceptional version then. Here, he
destroys them all, which is ironic since he did some of the best work of his
career by reviving Warwick’s in 1979.
these (6, 8, 13) are Burt Bacharach/Hal David classics and three of the worst
covers you will ever hear.
Digital 5.1 on the concerts are interesting.
The 1974 taping was slow magnetic mono from the reel-to-reel and spreads
the sound around, but is not bad for its age.
The newer 2004 concert sounds better, but not as great as one would
hope. That leaves the PCM 2.0
16-bit/44.1kHz Stereo on the CD, which is more compressed than usual and is
surprisingly flat and dull like the music itself. This is more like a 1960s without excitement,
innovation, Civil Rights movements, art or progress, all to be a lame money
machine. Stick with the DVDs, which
offer three bonus tracks total.
- Nicholas Sheffo