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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Pop > Adult Contemporary > Barry Manilow – Manilow Live! (HD-DVD/2000)

Barry Manilow – Manilow Live! (HD-DVD/2000)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Concert: C+



It was not that long ago that Barry Manilow was considered a legacy act with no more major hits to come.  Sure, his recent comeback has involved cover tunes, but a comeback is a comeback.  As performer and producer, Manilow was a key artist in the rise of Arista Records after Clive Davis took it over towards the end of its time as Bell Records.  From 1974 – 1983, the hits just kept on coming, but things went awry when many RCA artists were switched to the label and Manilow miscalculated in cutting Read ‘Em & Weep, yet another rearrangement by Jim Steinman of his big hit with Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse Of The Heart.


When radio suddenly stopped playing him, he switched gears and still had a few more hit albums on his name and never really stopped performing.  Jumping on the DVD and cable/satellite bandwagon, he taped a concert in Nashville back in 2000 and it is an early High Definition production.  Image Entertainment (not BMG/RCA/Arista) released it on standard DVD and Manilow Live! enjoyed riding the part of the DVD boom that surprised everyone in the industry (except this critic) of surprisingly high music DVD sales.


It even became a demo for some home theater stores selling to upscale clientele.  I was never a big fan and was not happy with the concert in general.  The songs then and now include:


Could It Be Magic?
Somewhere In The Night
Tryin' To Get The Feeling
Can't Smile Without You
Bandstand Boogie
Even Now
Flight Of The Bumblebee
All The Time
New York City Rhythm
Every Single Day
I Am Your Child
This One's For You
Sinatra Overture
Chicago (My Kind Of Town)
That's Life
When October Goes
Weekend In New England
I Made It Through The Rain
One Voice/I Write The Songs
Stars In The Night



It had the feel of a legacy oldies act then and even with the comeback, it still does now, and now it is a sort of curio because of the comeback and its arrival on HD-DVD from Image.  Between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray concerts we’ve covered from Image and Eagle Vision HD so far, plus those recently issued by Sony/BMG Music on Blu-ray and Warner/Rhino on HD-DVD, this is the oldest of all the recent concerts and it shows.


The glitchiest of all the 1.78 x 1 concert transfers so far had been The Black Crowes - Freak ‘N’ Roll … Into The Fog taped in 2005 and that was minor, though others have complained more extensively and Eagle had yet to issue it in HD-DVD.  This Manilow concert replaces it as the poorest performer, with the taping showing its age.  The 1080i digital High Definition transfer is interesting in showing how good and bad earlier HD was.  The very short-lived W-VHS format was an analog High Definition format that had 1,250 lines or so, with this digital version just arriving for what was for all practical purposes, experimental use.


So even when this looks dated, it is interesting to watch.  The actual camera angles chosen are only so interesting, but it turned out to be Manilow on an unexpected comeback.


Then there is the sound.  The standard DVD had standard Dolby Digital and DTS 4.0 mixes, showing how lightweight the sound would be and shortsighted the production had been for a sound mix.  I was very disappointed by both mixes at the time.  The sound here has been upgraded to Dolby Digital and Dolby TrueHD 4.0, which makes it sound clearer, but the overall master is still weak.  With the Dolby TrueHD at 192kHz/24-bits, loosing the regular DTS (20 – 24-bits/48kHz at best) is no big loss and even if we had DTS HD Master Audio at the same 192kHz/24-bits as the Dolby TrueHD, this concert is just too old to compete with other concert titles in the HD formats for performance.


However, Manilow’s newer concerts have not hit either format yet and Image was smart to get this one out first with so few concerts in the new formats available.  That is likely to change this year, but Image has a good catalog of concerts and they may join Eagle in out-releasing the major record labels for concerts if the major labels don’t get going.


For more recent Manilow concerts on standard DVD-Video, among other materials, try these links:


Music & Passion – Live In Las Vegas (DVD-Video)



First & Farewell DVD-Video concerts + “The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties” CD




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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