With worldwide sales of more than 75 million records, the success of Barry Manilow is a benchmark in popular music. His concerts and night club performances sell out instantly. He is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time, according to R&R (Radio & Records) and Billboard magazines. Rolling Stone crowned him “a giant among entertainers… the showman of our generation,” and Frank Sinatra summed up Manilow best when Ol’ Blue Eyes told the British press, “He’s next.”
But as high in the musical pantheon as he reigns, Barry Manilow is just as big a fan of the popular music of the day as the rest of us. On September 18, 2007, the multi-platinum superstar will revisit the songs of the decade that launched his career with the release of his new Arista album, The Greatest Songs Of The Seventies.
This eagerly awaited collection – the 30th original album recording of Manilow’s career – is the next chapter in the best-selling series of tributes to popular music which includes the RIAA platinum The Greatest Songs Of The Fifties (released January 31, 2006) and RIAA platinum The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties (released October 31, 2006). The Greatest Songs Of The Fifties became his first #1 debut on the Billboard 200 album chart and first #1 album since the 1977 triple-platinum double-LP Barry Manilow/Live and The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties entered the chart at #2 and was the all-time highest first sales week number debut chart entry of Manilow’s career. With the Sixties chart entry, Manilow became the first artist since 1981 to have two albums in the top two positions in one calendar year on the Billboard chart.
This juggernaut of success continues with The Greatest Songs Of The Seventies. It is the third collaboration between Manilow and Clive Davis, BMG U.S. Chairman & CEO, since the singer’s return to the Arista label after a five-year absence (which was distinguished by new albums on Concord and Columbia). As the founder and president of Arista Records for its first 25 years, Davis was a perennial collaborator with Manilow on virtually all his recordings. They first worked together on “Mandy,” Manilow’s debut #1 single, after he became the first performer signed by Clive Davis to Arista in 1974, the first year of the label’s existence.
The two produced The Greatest Songs Of The Fifties and The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties together, and that magic has carried over to the new album as well. “No one can reinvent the great classics better than Barry Manilow,” comments Davis. “He breathes new life and vitality into these truly wonderful songs and they sound fresh and timeless. We continue on the mission to bring to a new generation the great songs of a different era.”
That goal has been the creative spark for several Manilow concept albums that have interpreted music of earlier decades. Among the titles are 1984’s groundbreaking 2:00 AM Paradise Café featuring jazz legends Sarah Vaughan, Mel Tormé and Gerry Mulligan. Swing Street (1987) featured guest appearances by Stan Getz, Phyllis Hyman, Kid Creole, and Diane Schuur. Later came Showstoppers (1991), spanning nearly a century of Broadway show tunes.
On 1994’s Singin’ With the Big Bands, Barry was paired with the orchestras of Les Brown, Duke Ellington, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Harry James, and Glenn Miller on a glorious set of Swing Era standards. Most recently, there was 1998’s Manilow Sings Sinatra, which paired Barry with Grammy-winning producer Phil Ramone, paying homage to the great songs made famous by the legendary Frank Sinatra. Clive Davis called it “an enriching, exciting and fulfilling album” that complemented the earlier Manilow concept recordings.
Barry Manilow played a major role in defining the decade of the ’70s at the start of his career, just as he went on to become a core artist – onstage, in the recording studio, on television, and in motion picture soundtracks – throughout the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s. Now he honors his formative decade on The Greatest Songs Of The Seventies.
The new album is a fan’s dream wish-list of favorites covering both sides of the Atlantic, from The Beatles’ “The Long And Winding Road,” to Elton John’s “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word,” as well as a duet with Melissa Manchester on Carole King’s “You've Got A Friend.” Other selections include Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the Hollies’ “He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother,” Albert Hammond’s “It Never Rains In Southern California,” and The Carpenters’ “(They Long To Be) Close To You.”
Manilow’s tributes are flawlessly performed and arranged, starting with an homage to Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were,” Frankie Valli’s “My Eyes Adored You,” the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” and the Christopher Cross masterpiece “Sailing,” produced by Walter Afanasieff.
The 18-song single CD package of The Greatest Songs Of The Seventies presents new versions of 12 classic songs by other artists from the ’70s, plus first time ever, stripped-down acoustic versions of six Manilow titles. These range from “Mandy,” “I Write The Songs,” and “Even Now” to “Looks Like We Made It,” “Weekend In New England,” and “Copacabana.”
There is also a two-disc package of The Greatest Songs Of The Seventies which contains a Dual Disc (CD + DVD) with new versions of 12 classic non-Manilow on the audio layer, and, on the video layer, “The Making of the Album” with Barry reflecting on the music and the decade. The bonus CD contains stripped-down acoustic versions of four additional Barry Manilow titles – “Somewhere In The Night,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “This One's For You,” and a Trevor Horn produced dance mix of “Could It Be Magic.”
The Greatest Songs Of The Seventies is only the latest example of Barry Manilow’s timeless appeal to every cross-section of society from the working girl to the sophisticated pop fan, from teens to teens-at-heart. As the charter member of the Arista artist roster, Manilow has won a unique place in the pantheon of American performers.
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Barry Manilow’s roots are in his native Brooklyn, where music was an integral part of his life. By the age of seven, Barry was taking accordion lessons and playing on a neighbor’s piano. He chose a career in music while still in his teens, and attended New York College of Music and the Julliard School of Music while working in the mailroom at CBS. He subsequently became musical director for a CBS show named “Callback” which led to a lucrative sideline on New York’s advertising jingle circuit.
In 1971, Barry Manilow met Bette Midler and became her music director, arranger and pianist. The following year, Manilow signed with Bell Records to record his debut solo album. In 1974, Clive Davis founded a new label, Arista, along with Columbia Pictures. Davis had the right to choose any artist on the Columbia Pictures-owned Bell Records to bring to Arista. Davis chose Manilow and the rest is history. He famously brought Barry a recent U.K. hit song entitled “Brandy” (by its writer Scott English). Clive changed the title to “Mandy” so it wouldn’t be confused with the Looking Glass U.S. hit “Brandy.” When Barry’s Arista single reached Number One in early 1975, it ignited one of the most incandescent careers in pop.
Barry Manilow is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time, according to R&R (Radio & Records), with no less than 25 consecutive Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1975 and 1983. The list includes all-time favorites that Barry still sings today: “Mandy,” “It’s A Miracle,” “Could It Be Magic,” “I Write the Songs,” “Tryin’ To Get the Feeling Again,” “This One’s For You,” “Weekend In New England,” “Looks Like We Made It,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “Even Now,” and the Grammy Award-winning “Copacabana (At the Copa).” All of these songs (and more) were anthologized on the commemorative 1992 four-CD boxed-set, Barry Manilow: The Complete Collection And Then Some.
To date, twenty-four albums by Barry Manilow have been certified gold. Half of these titles have been certified platinum, while Barry Manilow/Live (1977), Even Now (1978), and Greatest Hits (1978) are each certified triple platinum.
Albums produced by Barry Manilow for other artists – including Bette Midler, Nancy Wilson, and Dionne Warwick – have been nominated for Grammy Awards. A winner of Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Awards, Manilow’s film credits include the Oscar-nominated song “Ready To Take A Chance Again” (from 1978’s Foul Play), production of Bette Midler’s “Perfect Isn’t Easy” (from Walt Disney’s Oliver and Company), and the soundtracks for the animated features Thumbelina and The Pebble and the Penguin.
Highlights of Manilow’s theater career range from his Tony Award-winning Broadway debut in 1977 (in the same year that ABC-TV presented “The Barry Manilow Special” to an audience of 37 million) to an SRO eight-week run on the Great White Way in 1989. Beginning in 1997, Barry Manilow’s Copacabana – The Musical, an elaborate two-act spectacular, played to packed houses in London’s West End for 18 months before touring the U.S., Australia and Asia. June 2001 saw the opening of Could It Be Magic? – The Barry Manilow Songbook.
The singer has made countless television appearances ranging from Emmy-winning network specials to cable concerts, and released such best-selling long-form home videos as Live On Broadway and Because It's Christmas. His two-hour 1996 A&E special, “Barry Manilow: Live by Request” was the highest rated music show in the network's history. Manilow has also appeared on the highly rated TV series “Murphy Brown,” “Ally McBeal,” and “Will & Grace.” In 2006, Barry received his fifth Emmy nomination and an Emmy win for the PBS special “Manilow: Music and Passion.” The broadcast celebrated Barry Manilow’s 100th performance at the Las Vegas Hilton, where his gala “Music and Passion” show opened in February 2005. Produced by Stiletto Television, the Rhino DVD of the PBS special was soon certified triple platinum.
In June 2002, Barry Manilow was inducted into the National Academy of Popular Music’s Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Ashford & Simpson, Michael Jackson, Randy Newman, and Sting.
Barry Manilow is a member of the Board of Governors of the National Academy of Jazz. His autobiography, Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way to Paradise, was published by McGraw-Hill in 1987. In addition to his own foundation, the Manilow Fund for Health and Hope, other involvements include The Prince's Trust, United Way, the Starlight Foundation, and several leading organizations for AIDS prevention and research. Barry Manilow is also a member of the Music Center of Los Angeles.