Monday, June 27, 2016

"Read 'Em and Weep" by Barry Manilow

Song#:  1701
Date:  11/19/1983
Debut:  53
Peak:  18
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Songwriter/producer Jim Steinman scored big time when two of his songs rode the #1 and #2 positions for four weeks ("Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler and "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" by Air Supply). The successes rejuvenated the careers of two artists and now others were looking to Steinman to help them out. One of those artists was Barry Manilow. Manilow's career was slowing down with some of his singles barely scratching the Pop Top 40. As he was prepping his Greatest Hits, Vol. II album, Manilow needed a new song to promote in order to help sell the disc. He reached out to Steinman and the pair set out to record this epic ballad that was cut from same vein as Steinman's previous two hits. Although Manilow had recorded his share of big ballads, this pairing with Steinman was considered odd and it garnered a lot of attention. With a stylized concept video ready for MTV, the single was issued and it went on to top the AC chart in short order. Pop responded well and the track found its way into the Top 20 - his first to do so in two years. Unfortunately, it would also end up being his last Top 40 entry bringing an end to a streak of hits that began with the 1974 #1 "Mandy."

ReduxReview:  Steinman and Manilow? Yes please! After igniting Bonnie Tyler and Air Supply, I thought this match-up would be awesome. I did like it, but it wasn't as amazing as I had hoped. The song is just not quite as good as the other two hits and Manilow is a bit stiff on his delivery. He's always been good at tackling the big ballads, but he really needed to let loose in order to sell Steinman's Wagnerian arrangement. Overall I think it still works, but it is more of an oddity in Manilow's catalog rather than a defining late-career moment.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Whereas Steinman's two hits for Tyler and Air Supply were newly written epics, he reached back into his catalog for Manilow and grabbed this song that was originally penned for and recorded by Meat Loaf. The song appeared on Meat Loaf's third album (and second with Steinman) Dead Ringer. Although the album would be a hit in the UK (#1) and other European countries, it stiffed in the US when it couldn't produce a hit single. This song was released as a single, but it failed to chart. Manilow's version contains a few minor updates and has a more elaborate production.


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