Sunday, November 16, 2014
Barry Manilow - 2:00 AM Paradise Café
The record was a slight departure from Manilow’s usual pop sound. Here he worked with a number of veteran jazz musicians to produced songs in a torchy, smoky jazz style.
Side one opens with “Paradise Café”. As the B-side to the album’s single, it charted at number 24 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It opens with a beautiful piano arrangement before being joined by Gerry Mulligan’s horns.
“Where Have You Gone” keeps the soft and laid back, swaying rhythms coming. This is the first of four tracks on the album with lyrics by Adrienne Anderson.
“Say No More” is next. Mulligan’s saxophone underlines the melancholy tone of the song.
“Blue” is a duet with Sarah Vaughan. She takes the first verse, and on the second she provides a backing contrast to Manilow.
The ballad “When October Goes” features lyrics by Johnny Mercer who had passed in 1976. The words never made it to song until Manilow was approached by his widow; the composer created a melody to accompany them. As a single, the song went to number 85 in the UK and number 6 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
Side two begins with the question “What Am I Doin’ Here”, a song about a guy who is left in the house after his love departed.
There is a seamless transition on to the next track “Goodbye My Love”. It works quite well since the two songs fit together thematically.
Manilow teams up with Mel Tormé on “Big City Blues”. There two voices really complement one another; their harmonies blend perfectly.
Another song of heartbreak and loneliness is “When Love Is Gone”.
“I’ve Never Been So Low on Love” is next. Just by changing up the arrangement, Manilow could have easily done this as a more contemporary pop song.
The album closes with “Night Song”, the longest track of the lot at just over six minutes in length.
Back in 1984, 2:00 AM Paradise Café would have been a bit too mellow, too easy listening for me. As a college sophomore, I was much more into dance music. With age, though, I can really appreciate Manilow’s efforts on this record. This is the kind of album you want to put on after a long day to unwind, or as background music for an intimate candle-lit dinner with someone you love. You can check it out for yourself over on Spotify.
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