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Friday, October 31, 2014

Audio Beaverhausen: Barry Manilow's Duets with The Dead

Barry Manilow's My Dream Duets is my Welcome to My Nightmare.

I appropriately listened to it in the privacy of my inner sanctum on Halloween night as it's, frankly, a ghoulish endeavor ironically timed for release the Tuesday before Halloween.

While I was rather appalled by the karaoke approach of Barbra's duet with dead Elvis on her latest album, I'm mortified times 11 listening to unwilling participants unable to decline the opportunity (or accept) to do these duets with Mr Manilow.

Mostly, these "collaborations" seem, at the very least, unnecessary. I mean, do we really need to hear Barry barge in on Mama Cass' "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (with this crass Cass intro: "And now to sing this lovely ballad: ME and Mama Cass!") or Frankie Lymon's doo-wop version of "Goody Goody"?

Our boy Barry is now 71 and I suppose the dream of these duets is to meet these artists in the hereafter and put on really divine performances, rocking the clouds. Mr M's voice, while retaining its smooth styling and sense of show-biz pizzazz, shows strain on some tracks (most evident on "Sunshine on My Shoulder" "with" John Denver) though his redeeming virtue is distinctly his arranging and production throughout.

Perhaps the most successful duet is the first with Jimmy Durante ("The Song's Gotta Come from the Heart") , especially in the cleverly spoken intro. And the Manilow meets Dusty Springfield "The Look of Love" is actually touching.

Too much of this album gave me the distinctly uncomfortable feel of necrophiliac opportunism, especially the songs done with Whitney Houston, Andy Williams and Marilyn Monroe.  "What a Wonderful World" with Louis Armstrong closes the album but is a completely irrelevant track. And "The Candyman" duet with Sammy Davis Jr.? Ridiculous. High camp for years to come.

While the album was perfect for my Halloween night in a perverse way, it may not be so perfect for other nights. This is, in the end, recording industry zombie-ism, aurally bringing back the dead, remixed, and ready to eat our very souls.

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