Legacy revisits the Barry Manilow catalog after already having reworked Barry Manilow II, Tryin’ to Get The Feeling, and Even Now with a later (June) rework of Barry Manilow Live:Legacy Edition, their signature classic definitive models of classic works. With the restoration of Barry Manilow I (1974), This One’s For You (1976), and One Voice (1979), Legacy completes the project of remastering and expanding the entire Manilow catalogue, which have yielded a massive collection of hits, 8 Top40 charters just from these three albums alone.
Barry Manilow I, although having already been released, was repackaged and re-released right after a single surprise hit the airwaves from his Barry Manilow II album. The song, “Mandy” set the pace for this soon to be pop-star. After a re-entry into the market, Barry Manilow I followed up the success of II by launching the hit, “Could It Be Magic.” After the first two albums uncovered the star that Barry Manilow would become, he went on to produce albums of increasing maturity.
Barry Manilow I, originally released on the Bell label but merged in to the Arista family, contains the massive 7+ minutes “Could It Be Magic,” a song inspired by Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor. It shows off Barry Manilow’s piano expertise well. The rest of the album includes the genuine banter between Barry and his Grandfather at Times Square circa 1948, on “Sing It,” the excellent “Sweetwater Jones,” the speed-talkin’ “Cloudburst,” as well as the fun “Oh My Lady” and the rest of the album’s original tracks. Added to this expanded version are three unreleased tunes, “Caroline,” “Rosalie Rosie,” and “Star Children” as well as the single issued, “Let’s Take Some Time To Say Goodbye” (never made it to album stage). This release stamps the original Bell label on the disc as well as providing both the original Bell cover art and the Arista reissue cover art.
This One’s For You reveals a changed Manilow, whose voice has taken on a more soft-pop sound. The opening track was an easy choice for a single but then so were “Daybreak,” the lovely “Weekend In New England,” and “Looks Like We Made It,” all high-charters with Manilow’s classic pop style firmly entrenched. Added to this edition are 4 bonus tracks, two unfinished works and two of them demos. One of the demos, “I Really Do Write The Songs,” a send-up to those that mention that his big hit “I Write The Songs” was not actually written by him (hear David Cassidy’s version…it’s not bad). This album’s booklet includes lyrics to the great songs found on this release.
One Voice, from 1979, found the Manilow hit machine winding down. With only a few hits that included the wonderfully written, "Ships" and "When I Wanted You," a changing world of music was edging out the pop market as we knew it in the '60s and '70s. Regardless, the album was not without merit. Although not as strong as previous albums, it still can burn a funky trail with songs like "(Why Don't We Try) A Slow Dance," a prophetic set of lyrics that said it all as a plea for slowing down the changes. The album also visited disco territory with the saccharine "Rain." But again, the album's strongest track, the magnificent Ian Hunter song, "Ships" (Hunter's version found on his You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic album is STILL the best version of this song) creates a seemingly shaded tune in an album that contained other styles of songs unlike this one. This expanded version offers 4 bonus tracks that include demos of "Learning to Live Without You" (nice), "Where I Want To Be," and "I Let Myself Believe" (damn betrayals). The other bonus track is "They Gave Into The Blues," a quite good Manilow tune.
Barry Manilow and his body of work has been impressive as has his longevity, a result of a comeback that revitalized interest in his back catalogue. Because of this interest, his highest charters have been given the Legacy treatment (remastering and expansion) and can easily replace the outdated versions of his earlier CD issues.