Barry Manilow will mark the 50th anniversary of his solo career with an exciting vinyl reissue of his debut album - pressed in a way that's not been heard and seen together since it first came out.
The beloved singer/songwriter has been on a hot streak lately that most artists his age would sell their souls for. Already a celebrated draw at the Westgate Las Vegas (his 14th year as a concert act in Sin City, and fast closing in on as many performances at the venue as Elvis Presley), Manilow also saw his long-gestating historical musical Harmony make its New York stage debut in 2022, and is prepping a five-night run at Radio City Music Hall at the end of May and beginning of June - just weeks shy of his 80th birthday.
It was anyone's guess how, if at all, he'd celebrate the release of his self-titled debut album. Barry Manilow was the culmination of several years of hard work behind the scenes in the music business, doing everything from writing still-famous advertising jingles to serving as the musical director for an up-and-coming singer named Bette Midler. Having signed to Bell Records under the auspices of Tony Orlando and releasing a pair of fluffy pop singles under the name "Featherbed," Manilow took a more serious but no less spirited approach for his Bell debut. Working alongside legendary producer Ron Dante and longtime songwriting collaborators like Marty Panzer and Adrienne Anderson, Manilow's first long-player found him commanding the piano on songs like "Sweet Life," the aching "I Am Your Child," and a dramatic Chopin-inspired version of "Could It Be Magic," one of the songs he'd released as Featherbed.
Despite a promising pop pedigree, Barry Manilow was released to little commercial fanfare. But fate has a funny way of working: a year later, Bell was taken over by former Columbia Records exec Clive Davis, who consolidated the roster into his new Arista label. Manilow was one of the few to survive the transition; Davis saw his potential and promoted follow-up Barry Manilow II (1974) with gusto. "Mandy," a reworked version of the Scott English tune "Brandy," was one of Bell's final singles before the changeover, topping both the Billboard Hot 100 and adult contemporary charts. A year later, Barry Manilow was reissued with several songs remixed and reworked; a reissued "Could It Be Magic" became a Top 10 pop and AC hit. The success of that version kept it in print in place of the original for decades; even when Legacy Recordings remastered the album in 2006, only the original cover art was used on the remixed album.
That all changes with this special numbered release, pressed on gold swirl vinyl: both the original artwork and mixes have been restored for the first time since 1973! Fans can experience it again the way it was first heard - certainly an encouraging sign for fans who hope for a version of the original album on CD at some point - and celebrate the flashpoint of Manilow's extraordinary work, brimming with music and passion.
The new Barry Manilow vinyl will be available on May 26, with a numbered red vinyl pressing of Manilow's third album, 1975's Tryin' to Get the Feeling, to follow on July 7. Links for both are here.
Harry N Cohen says
I know I have been complaining about the lack of cd reissues lately, but I must continue my rant by saying that releasing Barry's debut gem on vinyl only is a real slap in the face to his many fans.
Carole Thorpe says
You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but I find the term "real slap in the face" harsh and a bit dramatic. Perhaps (and likely) a CD release will follow up in weeks/months to come so as not to undermine the initial push for healthy album sales? Who knows? But I think it may be a little premature to judge the absence of a parallel CD release as a targeted attack upon or slight of Barry's fanbase.
I'm with Harry and others here who lament the lack of CD reissues for some titles. I know - CD sales are declining, vinyl profit margins are high... But the demographic target for Manilow's earliest stuff and many other artists of that prime era - 1960's, 70s - are still buying CD's. We can be found on this site and others - Imwan, Hoffman, SDE. We're out there and spend money if the content, sound quality and configurations are done right. And if there is a plan to release a CD at some point, perhaps the 2nd Disc folks can follow up. But for now, it's a turn off to see only vinyl releases, whether its $32 or $50.
Mark H. says
Thought at first this might be a Record Store Day release, but I guess not.
No CD is a bummer for me as well. High time for a deluxe CD edition with both mixes.
While the Manilow collector in me is demanding I get this, having it only as a replacement for my well-worn copies of the original 1973 vinyl is an extreme disappointment. It would be nice to get a deluxe edition on CD with both versions of the album, the bonus tracks from the reissues, and the Featherbed singles… for starters. (“Let’s Go Down to St Marks,” anyone?)
Mike Elder says
The original of COULD IT BE MAGIC on Bell Records, before Manilow became a big star, was by far the best version of the song..before the producers got a hold of it to make it more "top 40" sounding. Wish this was going to be released on CD as well. Glad this is finally seeing the light of day once again.
Rob Maurer says
The moment I saw this reissue in my email, I thought of you! We spoke of this album mix many times. Imagine my surprise when I saw your comment here…
mike elder says
Ha..yea, still trying to keep up with all the new music as well as re-issues...
Guess you can't teach old (and I mean old) dogs new tricks....Is that how the saying goes?
Not really interested in vinyl but I love that they have replicated the original silver Bell label on the LP. Were it not for the $32 price tag, I might have bought it just for that and the colored vinyl. Instead I will be content with my still mint copy of the original LP from 73 and the 2006 CD reissue from Legacy that included 4 bonus tracks. With the recent announcement that vinyl record sales have surpassed CD's you would think the vinyl prices would be coming down.
Carole Thorpe says
We may see vinyl prices in general decrease, but this 50th anniversary re-release is a special commemorative event. Given Manilow's expansive fanbase, I have no doubt they will snap up these albums at the $32 price point and may have done so at up the $50.
Well, I consider myself one of Manilow's fan base and I am guessing the majority of his fans are around my age and I am also guessing that most of them already own the 2006 Legacy re-issue on CD remastered with bonus tracks and probably still have their original vinyl LP like I do. Other than it being a numbered re-issue on colored vinyl, there is not much incentive for me to shell out $32 plus shipping. It will be interesting to see how well they sell.
Now if only my’73 Bell original played in anything close to CD quality… 🙂
Johnathan Pop says
Are these exclusive to Barry's online store or will they be available elsewhere?