CD Review: Barry Manilow – Manilow II

Barry Manilow’s second album, 1974’s Manilow II has been re-released undoubtedly to capitalize on the success of his recent number one album, The Greatest Songs of the Fifties and his triumphant show Manilow: Music & Passion at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater that has been extended through 2008.

Manilow, a Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, attended Julliard and was once the music director, arranger, and pianist for Bette Midler before his own career took off. Manilow II is the album that made Barry a star. The number One hit, “Mandy” was the anchor of the record and remains a mainstay on easy listening radio stations today. “It’s a Miracle,” written by Barry and Marty Panzer hit number 12 on the charts. Aside from the albums two biggest hits, it is two piano ballads that show Barry’s musical talents at their best. “Sandra” is the story of a lonely housewife reflecting on missed chances, and “Home Again” is the story of a couple who has drifted apart and wants to find each other again.
This reissue of Manilow II is fully remastered, rendering the sound quality much better than it was on previous releases. The CD also contains two rare tracks, the previously unreleased “Good News,” a song that Barry wrote with Melissa Manchester and “Halfway Over the Hill,” a song Manilow wrote in response to the commercial failure of his first album. The reissue also comes with a booklet that includes lyrics, photos, an essay by David Wild of Rolling Stone, a note from Barry Manilow, and complete credits.
The extra tracks, the sound quality and the interesting tidbits in the included booklet make the reissue of Manilow II a worthwhile purchase for any Barry Manilow fan or for anyone who might have seen him on American Idol and is curious about his work, this is a great place to start.

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