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Picks and Pans Review: Here Comes the Night

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Barry Manilow

The title seems to suggest that Manilow may be worrying that dusk has fallen on his phenomenal pop career. He still has a devoted following, but there is a hint of panic in this meandering collection of songs, which does not so much show musical agility as a loss of direction. Manilow’s stab at contemporary rock with Some Girls sounds forced; it brings to mind middle-aged men wearing gold medallions and open-to-the-navel shirts. The best he can do on I Wanna Do It With You is a pale imitation of a young Neil Sedaka. And for some reason he has also included the most anemic rendition of Fats Waller’s old hit I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter since Billy Williams covered that song with treacle in 1957. Stylistically, Manilow is on firmest ground when wallowing in such effectively mushy tracks as his self-penned Here Comes the Night and Let’s Get On With It, both of which he co-wrote. The most telling song selection, though, is Memory, the ballad from the musical Cats, which even before Manilow recorded his version was fast on its way to joining Feelings in Hackneyed Heaven. It is about an aging pussy trying to regain her glamour days, but there is at least some evidence of conviction when Barry sings; “I can smile at the old days/ It was beautiful then/ I remember the time I knew what happiness was/ Let the memory live again.”