Guilty pleasures: Barry Manilow – 2:00 A.M. Paradise Cafe (1984)

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A friend of mine, who I just recently turned on to the pleasures of the LP (he’s hooked for sure now), picked up a copy of 2:00 A.M. Paradise Cafe at the Goodwill store. He might have paid a buck for it.

As we sat down to listen to it, I was more than a little shocked to be likin’ it … and likin’ it quite a bit.

Back in 1984, Manilow made a big turn toward jazz. This particular release had a lot of jazz heavy hitters on it including Sarah Vaughn, Mel Torme and Shelley Manne. What’s even more interesting is that he took some unreleased Johnny Mercer lyrics and set them to music.

I was never a fan of Manilow back in his heyday. Even if the songs were catchy, there was just something about his voice that was tough to take. It was as though, even when singing a complex melody, he managed to make it be monotone. I don’t perceive much of that on this album. Maybe that’s because there aren’t so many swelling, anthemic choruses here. Thing are more understated.

Phew! I am in shock. First, the Red Sox starting winning the World Series, and now I like a Barry Manilow record? What the heck is next?!

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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