Pop crooner Barry Manilow is back on the charts with the third release in his series of cover songs from past decades. This time, he chose hits from the decade that made him a star. VOA's Mary Morningstar has more on Manilow's new album, Greatest Songs of the Seventies.
The Bee Gees' "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" is one of 12 tunes Barry Manilow covers on Greatest Songs of the Seventies. He also recorded classics by Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, Elton John, The Hollies, Carole King, and other 1970s superstars.
Barry says, "I sent a list of every Number One record in the 1970s to everybody I knew and asked them to pick their favorites." He tallied the results, and found many to be the same songs he and co-producer Clive Davis planned to include on the project.
"I think what we did was [find] not only the greatest titles [or] the most popular titles, but for me, the most melodic songs I could find," Manilow says. "These are the most melodic songs. Songs like 'You've Got A Friend' and 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.' These are not the disco songs or the rock and roll. These are the most melodic songs that we could find. It's a beautifully romantic representation."
Last year, Barry recorded his first two decade-driven albums. Combined sales of Greatest Hits of the Fifties and Greatest Hits of the Sixties reached nearly two million copies in the U.S.
Manilow says the biggest challenge he faced with the latest in the series was making acoustic versions of his own '70s hits.
"It took two months to figure out how to do it," he says. "It sounded simple - we'd do an 'unplugged' acoustic version of all these things. It was very difficult. I wound up doing two and three renditions of each one. But, we finally got it. They're beautiful. It's a beautiful album."
Barry made his first appearance on the pop chart with "Mandy." The song, which climbed to Number One in 1975, is one of six Manilow hits from the 1970s that he added as acoustic bonus tracks on his new album.
Barry retired from the road in 2004 after performing his sold-out "One Night Live! One Last Time" tour. In early 2005, he began a long-term engagement at the 1700-seat Hilton Theatre in Las Vegas. Last year, the run was extended through 2008.
The first single from Barry's new album, The Greatest Songs of the Seventies, is his remake of Albert Hammond's Top 5 hit from 1972, "It Never Rains In Southern California."