Phoenix Arizona Republic
Manilow, Midler only middling
By HARDY PRICE
June 5, 1977
Three and a half years ago when Bette MidlerÂ played Symphony Hall, she let her piano playerÂ open the second half of the show. To say thatÂ Barry Manilow was a flop would be too harsh aÂ judgment, but his.three songs weren’t anythingÂ to write home about.
As Manilow now talks about it, “For an unknown to do three songs in the middle of Bette
Midler’s act was like performing in the middle ofÂ World War II.”
That was three and a half years ago and Manilow didn’t have an audience. ‘While the shoe isÂ not on the other foot, Bette is still big business,Â times have changed and Manilow has an audience which, is quite possibly larger than Bette.
He has sold far more records, with two gold andÂ two platinum albums. (Of course he has alsoÂ recorded’more^albums than Bette.
BOTH NOW HAVE Live double albums out on the market both approximate,’ as much as they can, the recent tours of the two.
Manilow’s Barry. Manilow Live (AristaSSOO) isÂ almost a carbon copy of his’ performance lastÂ ‘December at Symphony Hall. Matter of fact, theÂ album was recorded about two weeks followingÂ his Phoenix appearance’during his 14-day standÂ in New York;City at Broadway’s Uris Theater.
Included-are all the Manilow standardsÂ “Mandy,” “It’s A Miracle,” “Could It Be Magic,”Â “This One’s For You,” “Weekend In New England,” “Looks Like We Made It” and “I Write
The added attractions come with “New YorkÂ City Rhythm,” which Manilow introduces withÂ some special words about his Brooklyn beginnings and the “Jump Shout Boogie ‘Medley”Â which includes’ the title song, “Avenue C,” “Jumpin at the Woodside,” the old Lambert, Hendricks and Ross favorite “Cloudburst” and “Bandstand Boogie.” Both cuts will put-your foot to tapping.
IF ANYTHING HOWEVER, the album captures Manilow in his V.S.M.(for Very Strange
Medley) production. These are the songs, jingles or whatever you want to call them, that keptÂ Manilow in eating money while he was working for the big break.Â And no he didn’t writeÂ McDonald’s “You Deserve A Break To’day,” butÂ did perform it for the commercials. He did however write the,Stridex and Band-Aids (“BandAids Stuck On You”) jingles.
Other commercialsÂ included in the. medley, which Manilow alsoÂ worked on, are Kentucky Fried Chicken (“Get AÂ Bucket of Chicken”), State Farm InsuranceÂ ( L i k e A Good Neighbor”), Dr. Pepper (“SoÂ Misunderstood”) and Pepsi (“Join The PepsiÂ Generation”).
THE LAST OF THE TRULY tacky women, asÂ she calls herself, is too much for two pieces ofÂ vinyl to corral. Bette Midler Live At Last (Atlantic SD2-9000) was recorded at Cleveland’s MusicÂ Hall and has an energy level never attained inÂ three previous studio albums.
But hearing Bette Midler and seeing Bette Midler are two different sensations and’ the latterÂ cannot be compared with the former. As mightily as Midler and her crew probably worked theÂ total effort falls short.
Still in all, if you can’t have the whole pie, tryÂ ha;f a pie. You can enjoy some nice moments
with John Prine’s “Hello In There ” (butÂ strangely enough, of all her'”standards” this one
comes off much better on the studio album thanÂ hye), “Delta Dawn,” “In The Mood,” “Do YouÂ Want To Dance” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.
THE HIGH WATER MARK of the show seemsÂ to be Bette’s vision of a tired club singer, whoÂ has never really risen above working the Albuquerque Holiday Inn. “The Vicki Eydie Show” isÂ a medley which includes “Around The World “Â “Istanbul,” “Fiesta In Rio,” Hawaiian WarÂ Chant” and “Lullabye Of Broadway.” JudgingÂ from the audience reaction, the production is aÂ real winner. If you didn’t see the show, just pretend it’s a radio program and let your imagination run amuck.
Actually that’s not a bad, idea for all liveÂ albums, figuring one’s imagination can be muchÂ wilder than anything anyone could ever put on aÂ stage.