Saturday, August 20, 2011

2:00 AM PARADISE CAFE - Barry Manilow

YEAR: 1984

LABEL: Arista

TRACK LISTING: Paradise Cafe, Where Have You Gone?, Say No More, Blue, When October Goes, What Am I Doin' Here, Goodbye My Love, Big City Blues, When Love Is Gone, I've Never Been So Low On Love, Night Song, Paradise Cafe (Reprise)

IMPRESSIONS: Barr has said that the concept for the album came to him in a dream and its the album for which he'd most like to be remembered. Critically acclaimed at the time like no other album in his career, PARADISE CAFE has the feel of a late night bar filled with cigarette smoke with Frank Sinatra requesting the barman to "Set 'em up, Joe". This album first came to my attention through my good friend Paulster who played the tape during one of our million late night road trips. It was the dead of winter (the album came out in November 1984) and I remember loving it the first time I heard it. The process of recording each album side live in the studio in one single take with all the songs melding together was a brave one (one false note and they'd all have to start over at the beginning of song one again) and fits perfectly the style and mood of the piece. This is definitely a late night album (in the spirit of Sinatra's "IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS" or "FRANK SINATRA SINGS FOR ONLY THE LONELY" which was the perfect accompaniment for a late night drive on an icy winter's road trip.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Paradise Cafe, Where Have You Gone?, Say No More, Blue, When October Goes, What Am I Doin' Here

GUEST ARTISTS: Sarah Vaughan (vocals on "Blue"), Mel Torme (vocals on "Big City Blues"), Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone), Bill Mays (piano, Fender Rhodes), Mundell Lowe (acoustic guitar, electric guitar), George Duvivier (double bass), Shelly Manne (drums, percussion).

FACT SHEET: 2:00 AM PARADISE CAFE is Barry Manilow's 14th album. The spark which brought the project to life was when the widow of Johnny Mercer gave Manilow a stack of the legendary songwriter's lyrics which had never been set to music (as per the late lyricist's wishes) so they could be turned into songs. While Manilow would set many of the lyrics to music (including the exquisite "Just Remember"), the only Mercer song appearing on this album is "When October Goes"; something of a modern standard which has also been recorded by Rosemary Clooney, Diane Schuur and Nancy Wilson. PARADISE CAFE was rehearsed for three days and then recorded live in the studio in one take with no overdubs. The album was a major departure from Manilow's patented easy listening pop and, though it never went very high on the charts, paradoxically went platinum. The album was arranged and produced by Barry Manilow.

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