Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Barry Manilow: Manilow Scores

If an assortment of retread ABBA tunes can be shaped into a syrupy stage production that attracts capacity crowds from Broadway to London to Toronto and beyond, why couldn’t a single, quarter-century-old pop hit be extended into a full-length musical? So, presumably, reasoned Barry Manilow when he transformed his 1978 mambo-to-madness mini-drama “Copacabana” into first a TV special, then a one-act Vegas production, then a fully fleshed-out (so to speak) two-act show that has since been mounted some 100 times worldwide. Cheesy as the endeavor sounds, the 16 tunes Manilow crafted with lyricists Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman, seven of which fill the first half of Manilow Scores (Concord), seem comparable to much of what’s currently being written for the musical stage.

Produced by Phil Ramone, the mix includes two standard-issue showstoppers-the Broadway-or-bust opener “Just Arrived” and the bouncy, boppin’ “Dancin’ Fool,” which bears a striking similarity to Manilow’s long ago Dick Clark homage “Bandstand Boogie.” “Who Needs to Dream?” is a decent Celine Dion-like love song, the grandiose “Bolero de Amor” is Evita-esque and there’s a duet with fellow ’70s icon Olivia Newton-John on “This Can’t Be Real,” a soaring power pop paean of the sort that both once specialized in. The “2005 Dance Mix” update of the title tune is just a slightly tarted-up and extended version of the ’78 original and, best of all, the honey-dipped “Sweet Heaven (I’m in Love Again)” harkens back to the breezy Barry of “Can’t Smile Without You.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published