Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Decades

The Decade albums are finally complete. Some fans might shout for joy. And others might breathe a sigh of relief. I for one, am just as little nostalgic and yes, sad. Granted, Here at the Mayflower tops the charts for me; followed by Paradise Cafe. But regardless of how you feel about Barry re-recording other people's hits, these albums showcase his absolute genius as an arranger.

For me, there are some gems in each of them that I will always treasure. These songs are masterpieces in arrangement and have replaced the originals in my mind.

The Greatest Songs of the Fifties
"Unchained Melody"-the most beautifully moving version of this song I have ever heard. And coupled with the visuals at the shows, it stands alone as the highlight of this album.

"Are You Lonesome Tonight"-it's the vocals in this song that are gut wrenching. You can hear the absolute loneliness in the words and after seeing it performed live, it even replaces Elvis' version in my mind.

The Greatest Songs of the Sixties
"Cherish/Windy"-The way he meshes these two songs together is a masterpiece of arranging. The back and forth way that both songs blend together, along with having The Association sing along with him made this song an instant favorite.

"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling"-How can anything replace the Righteous Brother's version of this song? I didn't believe it until I heard it and now when I hear their version, I miss Barry's masterful arrangement.

The Greatest Songs of the Seventies
The standouts on this album are his acoustic versions of his hits. The jewel being Copacabana. The guitar solo in this song brings a completely new vibe to it. It's the arrangements that bring a whole new listening experience to his 70's hits.

"You've Got a Friend"-Barry and Melissa singing together again makes this song a standout for me. While it might not replace the original, it's right up there with it!

The Greatest Songs of the Eighties
There are so many standouts on this album. Remastering and rearranging the 80's hits might have been the most difficult but it was also the most successful in my opinion. My favorites:

"Islands in the Stream"-beats the original HANDS DOWN. And the live version is even better. He hit a home-run with this one.

"I Just Called to Say I Love You"-only Barry would take a classic Stevie Wonder song and turn it into a bossa nova and make it work!

The sax solos by Dave Koz make "Careless Whisper" and "Arthur's Theme" standouts as well.

Bottom line...these albums may be remakes of other artist's songs, but I've thoroughly enjoyed all of them. They are part of my treasured Manilow collection.

Texas Fan

1 comment:

Survivor said...

Thanks for doing this. I'd like to put my tuppence worth in:

The fifties was such a wonderful album. Unchained Melody couldn't have been done any better. I always imagined myself waltzing to many of the songs on this one. If you love me, really love me is one of my absolute favourites on this one.

The sixties has to be a favourite as it was when I first met Barry. This album brings back so many memories. I agree Cherish/Windy was fabulous. I specially liked When I fall in love.

The seventies was my least favourite and like you I think the best bits were the acoustic versions of his own songs particularly Copa. That is one song I have never really liked but the acoustic version blew me away. Great guitar playing by Mike.

I love the eighties album, it is one I play regularly. Open Arms, Careless Whisper and the fantastic version of Islands in the Stream. You are right it is even better live!

I have enjoyed these albums. They have resurrected many songs from the past and ones I had never heard before. It shows Barry's versatility in arranging and producing.

Roll on the original album which is way overdue!!!!

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