Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Barry Does Bacharach (...& Many More!)

Earlier this year when Barry Manilow released "The Greatest Songs of the Fifties" and it became his first #1 album since 1977's "Live", I was more than a tad disheartened. I wanted such an event to be centered around an album of Barry originals, not a bunch of covers. A case of having shit in one hand and wishin' in the other? Possibly. Only I didn't have that, because I didn't buy the "Fifties" disc. Why? I only liked maybe two of the songs he chose for the album. Hence the "shit" joke; there's very little music from that decade I care for (maybe if it had been an album full of Jerry Lee Lewis covers...which, quite frankly, would be tres cool...or a total disaster...ahem...).

Moving on. I've got no beef with Barry doing cover tunes as a means to an audience - heck, I did the same thing with Barry's songs when I wrote my play "New York City Rhythms" - so it'd be hypocritical for me to condemn this strategy.

Last week the Barrister released the followup "The Greatest Songs of the Sixties", which from a track listing standpoint was the flip side of the last album per my tastes. There is in fact only one tune on here I never cared for (You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'); the rest is all stuff I really, really dig - and Manilow does way right by the material. This time around he didn't come out of the gate at #1 - but instead #2 (beaten only by the soundtrack for the TV series Hannah Montana...go figure)! Still, props to my man for scoring big two times in a row.

He covers three Burt Bacharach tunes - Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, This Guy's In Love With You, & What the World Needs Now is Love. The latter two are outstanding versions; Raindrops seems just slightly lacking, although I can't quite put my finger on what's missing. It might just be because B. J. Thomas' version is just so friggin' definitive, and then Ben Folds Five's live cover redefined it, and there probably isn't a lot of room in my head for a third version.

I remember when he announced the album some months back, he jokingly said something along the lines of "Don't expect a bunch of Beatles songs - this is me after all". Well he did see fit to include one Lennon/McCartney tune, And I Love Her, which is just as syrupy sweet as it oughtta be.

But the real Coup for Ruediger here is Barry singing Blue Velvet. Now here's the song that my favorite movie of all time is named after, and indeed the song is so inextricably tied to David Lynch's masterpiece at this point, it seems clear to me that Barry has as sick a sense of humor as I've always suspected. It may not quite top Bobby Vinton's version, but it is superior to Isabella's take.

Thank you Mr. M! I'd ponder whether or not you're going to do "The Greatest Songs of the Seventies", but you already have - back in the '70s when you released all those great albums.

And if you ever read this, hopefully you are amused by...

Frank Booth: "Baby wants to fuck! Baby wants to fuck Blue Velvet!"

(Special thanks to my dearest JJ for giving me the CD for my birthday!)