Manilow Gets Jazzy For Hallmark Holiday Album
Barry Manilow is bringing us more than "The Greatest Songs of the Seventies" this fall. In fact, the singing, songwriting piano man tells Billboard.com that "I'm like Starbucks; you're not gonna be abBarry Manilow is bringing us more than "The Greatest Songs of the Seventies" this fall. In fact, the singing, songwriting piano man tells Billboard.com that "I'm like Starbucks; you're not gonna be able to get away from me. It's gonna be a Manilow fall," with a holiday album and a selection of DVDs.
In early November, Hallmark plans to issue "In the Swing of Christmas," a jazz-styled album on which Manilow is accompanied by pianist Matt Herskowitz of the Mad Fusion Trio, who he proclaims is "beyond Bill Evans, beyond Fats Waller. You've never heard a young piano player like this."
The song list, Manilow says, is a mix of "titles everyone would know" -- "Silver Bells" and "White Christmas" -- along with Irving Berlin's "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)" and the Great American Songbook staple "Violets For Your Furs." "They're not all religious at all," Manilow says. "I was also able to put in winter songs, which turned out to be just beautiful. I'm nuts about it, and so is Hallmark."
"In the Swing of Christmas" will be accompanied by the release of the DVD version of the 2003 A&E special "A Barry Manilow Christmas: Live By Request." And on Nov. 6, Rhino Entertainment/Stiletto New Media will put out the box set "Barry Manilow: The First Television Specials."
One thing Manilow won't be releasing is his version of the 1976 Elton John/Kiki Dee duet "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" with Rosie O'Donnell that was slated for the "Seventies" album, which comes out Sept. 18 via Arista. The cut, Manilow says, was made for aesthetic rather than qualitative reasons.
"It was just fantastic," he explains, "but when we put it all together the tone of the song just didn't fit on this album. The whole album turned out to be very romantic, and suddenly this thing came crashing in, and it just didn't feel right.
"But Rosie ... was inspiring," he continues. "She's not a singer, really, and she got behind that mic and she turned into a rock 'n' roll singer. I hope people don't think we didn't put it on because she wasn't great. She was great. It's a wonderful cut; it just doesn't fit on the album, but it'll probably be a bonus cut somewhere."
Manilow says he also has "a really big idea" for a new album of original songs that he hopes to work on next -- unless "The Greatest Songs of the Eighties" looms.