Even Now

Barry Manilow

Arista, 1978


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Yep, O Ye DV Faithful, I’m going to do it again.

Longtime readers of the Vault know that I am the self-appointed guardian and champion of singer-songwriters, especially those whom the critical establishment has labeled uncool. And let’s face it, if you can find someone with a 35-year career who is considered more uncool than Barry Manilow, let me know.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The problem is that most music “experts” mis-classify Manilow. Because he had a string of hits in the late seventies and early eighties, he’s considered a pop artist, and a schlocky one at that. However, he’s not a pop artist—if anything, he’s firmly in the genre called variously American Standards, American Songbook, or Pop Standards. You can draw a direct line from Mel Torme and Frank Sinatra to Manilow.

The other issue is what I call the Pina Colada Effect (named after the ubiquitous Rupert Holmes song from the late seventies). Some artists are remembered for one song that is a) a huge hit, b) not in the style they normally do, and 3) annoying. So we’re going to acknowledge that “Copacabana,” which opens this album, is a disco nightmare whose popularity is completely inexplicable. It’s terrible. We will dock Mr. Manilow a letter grade for this sequin-speckled pile of walrus doodoo and move on.

Now, for the rest of the album.

What we have left is an album of gorgeous love songs done in a style somewhere between soft pop and American standards. “A Linda Song” is a heartbreaker about a man who made one fatal omission. “Where Do I Go From Here?” and “Even Now” are impeccable songs about a love lost. “I Was A Fool (To Let You Go)” has great blues piano, and the wistful bossa nova of “Sunrise” closes the album elegantly. Yeah, “Can’t Smile Without You” certainly proves that Manilow wrote commercial jingles before his musical success—but on the whole, this is a solid group of songs, well performed.

Look, this may not be music for DK or Motörhead fans. But anyone with a soft spot or a liking for American standards-style music should really check this out.

Just—skip track one.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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