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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Barry-Manilow-15-Minutes-CD-August-2011

Barry Manilow
15 Minutes

 

 

By Todd Jolicouer

 

I know… what is Barry Manilow doing on The Rockpit? You would be surprised. First, I am a huge fan, and have been for years. The first concert tickets I ever bought from a scalper were for Barry Manilow in 1988. I went into the Navy a couple months early and never even got to use the tickets. Put aside your preconceived notions that Barry Manilow is easy listening and give me a minute to explain why this disc belongs here and why it has earned 4-1/2 stars.

 

The subject matter relates to everyone… how would you handle your 15 minutes? Can you handle it? The CD starts off with the title track, “15 Minutes.” This song starts like most other Manilow songs, but soon you are being treated to killer drums and even guitar riffs (ROCKPIT CRED #1). Do not get me wrong, Barry has not given up on a formula that has worked for him for years – he has simply accentuated it with upbeat music that has solid rhythm section and guitar work. The fun totally continues on the next tune, “Work The Room.” This is one of my favorite tracks on the disc. The percussion and rhythm are very contagious and very big to bring this song to the forefront. I even had to back up the disc three times to verify he actually swears in the song (ROCKPIT CRED #2). “Bring On Tomorrow” is a solid love song that is typical fare for a Barry Manilow CD, but again, the musicianship is not all keyboard and strings. I keep mentioning musicianship, drums, rhythm section, and guitars. Trust me, I will tie this all out in the end. Next up is “Now It’s For Real” which has more killer percussion, a solid bass line, and great vocals. All the lyrics to this point are setting up the climb to Fame.

 

“Wine Song” doesn’t start off strong, but by the time the percussion and background vocals kick in, you are enjoying a very cool and mellow guitar riff in the distance. A guitar and solid rock feel kicks off “He’s A Star.” Another very strong song – this lends itself to both AOR and rock feel at the same time. Barry’s voice is very strong on this one! You may laugh, but how many rockers could cross over and write AOR/Easy Listening stuff? Love him, like him, or hate him - you have to give Mr. Manilow credit for this ability. “Written In Stone” continues the album with a mellower feel. This is standard fare for a Barry CD. Still a great tune, but it might me a little mellow for some rockers. “Letter From A Fan” is another great rock track. The guitar work and rhythm section work together in unison with Barry’s voice to great a solid song. This song features vocals from Nataly Dawn of indie rock duo Pomplamoose. I want to note that about 3:30 in there is some fabulous guitar work and a cool solo and it happens again right around 4:45 minutes (ROCKPIT CRED #3). This section of the album details how great life is at the top of that Fame circuit.

 

“Everybody’s Leavin’” is a little opus that features some echoed vocals and keyboards. Quite the eerie lead in for the next track, “Who Needs You?” The piano intro makes me wonder when the party will start. This cool tune really helps guide this section of the disc. “Winner Go Down” has very earthy music and tones. It works very well within the spectrum of this album. To go with the earthy, there is great guitar work and some really layered background vocals, giving this song a very full feel. This song really drives home the point of a fading star when it mentions different celebs that lost their battle with fame. It even uses a news clip to quote Keith Richards (ROCKPIT CRED #4). I really like how “Slept Through The End Of The World” wraps up the slide down the Fame cycle. An acoustic guitar guides this song, and very well, I might add. The guitar and Barry’s voice perform a flawless duet that makes this a great song, regardless of how slow or mellow it may be.

 

Piano piece “Reflection” opens the final section of the CD. “Trainwreck” really starts with a very real feel. As Barry sings the lines, “Hey there train wreck, look in the mirror, could it be clearer, end of the line” you can’t help but think of some of the rock stars we have covered here on The RockPit who didn’t get the chance to be as introspective. A reprise of “15 Minutes” uses Barry’s great voice, a killer guitar riff, and solid rhythm section to demonstrate the climb to fame once more. Disc closer “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right” has all the variables… Barry voice, rock guitar, and killer drums. A very funky bridge/breakdown adds to the fun.

 

Okay – I told you I would tie together the musicianship – Barry has a veritable who’s who playing on the disc. Guitars: Tim Pierce (Meat Loaf, Santana, Shinedown) Michael Lloyd- who also produced the CD – worked with 70s rocker Leif Garret back at the height of his popularity; Bass: Matt Bisonette (Joe Satriani, David Lee Roth, Lita Ford); Drums: Greg Bisonette (Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, David Lee Roth, Joe Satriani, Ozzy Osbourne) I think all of this qualifies for more ROCKPIT CRED!

 

So there you have it folks – not exactly a metal album, but a damn solid effort from Barry Manilow that has different components that qualify it for inclusion on The RockPit.