Believe it or not, Christmas is just around the corner…and Barry Manilow is teaming with Legacy Recordings for the festivities. The pop superstar has recorded three very different holiday albums between 1990 and 2007, and all three can be sampled on his Classic Christmas Album, due in stores on October 2, part of Legacy's all-new holiday series.
Manilow made his first memorable contribution to the holiday songbook with his own composition “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve,” co-written with Marty Panzer (“It’s a Miracle,” “This One’s for You,” “Even Now”). It was included on 1977’s chart-topping Barry Manilow Live and also released as a single. A favorite of the late Dick Clark to ring in January 1 on his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, the reflective ballad takes its rightful place among the sixteen tracks on Manilow’s Classic Christmas Album.
His next major holiday statement on record was 1990’s Because It’s Christmas, the first of three such efforts. The album blended original songs alongside familiar favorites, and even featured “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve” in a new recording. Manilow paid homage to The Andrews Sisters and stepped in for Bing Crosby on a loving remake (with female vocal trio Exposé) of the famous, swinging Crosby/Andrews take on “Jingle Bells,” and deftly weaved religious and classical compositions with new songs and standards throughout the album: “Silent Night” was paired with the bluesy “I Guess There Ain’t No Santa Claus,” and “Joy to the World” with Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane’s wistful “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” (“I Guess There Ain’t No Santa Claus” is one of two songs on the album with Johnny Mercer lyrics set to music by Manilow; it’s also the one selected for Classic Christmas.) An excerpt from Handel’s “Messiah” introduced his own bid for a seasonal standard, “Because It’s Christmas (For All the Children).” Manilow incorporated many of his own musical penchants on this disc, from big-band to jazz and of course, lush balladry. Four tracks make an appearance on the new compilation.
Jazz and swing took a back seat, however, on the belated sequel to Because It’s Christmas. 2002’s A Christmas Gift of Love was a much more traditional affair, almost entirely composed of standards with one original, the title track (like that of Because It’s Christmas, written by Manilow with Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman), plus a revival of Joni Mitchell’s “River” that gained Manilow airplay on many holiday radio stations. Several songs from A Christmas Gift have been pulled for the new collection, including “River,” the title cut, the Perry Como/Robert Goulet-popularized chestnut “Home for the Holidays,” with an arrangement from the great Patrick Williams, and three songs penned by Irving Berlin: “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and a medley of “Happy Holiday” and “White Christmas.”
When Manilow was called upon by greeting card giant Hallmark to craft a third Christmas long-player in 2007 as an exclusive for its retail stores, he returned to jazz, but with a twist. Whereas Because It’s Christmas had a big-band feel to some tracks, Manilow aligned himself with two jazz trios for In the Swing of Christmas, the most adventurous of his three holiday albums. From that set, Classic Christmas Album reintroduces “Silver Bells,” with an intricate vocal arrangement performed entirely by Manilow, and Berlin’s “Violets for Your Furs,” with The Randy Kerber Trio. (The trio MaD Fusion also performed on the album.) In 2009, Arista reissued the album, with two bonus tracks, both of which reappear here. The infectious “Christmas is Just Around the Corner,” written by Manilow for the television special A Cranberry Christmas (just try not to tap your toes!), reappears here, as does a version of the perennial “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
After the jump, we have more, including the complete track listing with discography, and a pre-order link!
Manilow’s Christmas catalogue has always been enormously popular; Because It’s Christmas was a landmark for the singer. His first platinum album since 1984’s 2:00 a.m. Paradise Café, it was certified platinum in 2002 and was the best-selling Christmas album of its release year, 1990. A Christmas Gift of Love, Manilow’s only release on the Columbia label, earned gold status. In the Swing of Christmas was rewarded with a Grammy Award nomination. If you’re interested in sampling these albums and more, Barry Manilow’s The Classic Christmas Album arrives in stores from Arista and Legacy on October 2. It can be pre-ordered below!
Barry Manilow, The Classic Christmas Album (Arista/Legacy, 2012)
- Silver Bells
- Happy Holiday/White Christmas
- Jingle Bells (Duet with Exposé)
- Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
- I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
- Violets For Your Furs
- The Christmas Waltz
- Christmas Is Just Around The Corner (from “Cranberry Christmas”)
- (There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays
- Because It’s Christmas (For All The Children)
- Silent Night/I Guess There Ain’t No Santa Claus
- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
- Joy To The World/Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
- It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve (Live)
- A Gift of Love
Track 1 & 6 from In the Swing of Christmas (Hallmark/Arista XPR 4172, 2007)
Tracks 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 & 16 from A Christmas Gift of Love (Columbia/Concord Jazz CK 86976, 2002)
Tracks 3, 10, 12 & 14 from Because It’s Christmas (Arista ARCD 8644, 1990)
Tracks 4 & 8 from In the Swing of Christmas (Expanded Edition) (Arista 88697 57490 2, 2009)
Track 15 from Barry Manilow Live, Arista LP 8500, 1977