Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"Mathematics" by Melissa Manchester

Song#:  2294
Date:  04/27/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  74
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  After being with Arista Records for nearly a decade, Manchester parted ways with the label following her low-performing eleventh album Emergency. She signed up with MCA for her next album and came up Mathematics. Working with producers like George Duke and newcomer Robbie Nevil, Manchester continued down the same path she had trod at Arista and recorded a set of synth/dance-pop tunes. That sound wasn't working for her at Arista and unfortunately the results were even worse with the new MCA album. This first title-track single was barely a blip on the Pop chart and that caused the album to come-n-go quickly. The song would be Manchester's last to reach the Pop chart. With those results, her deal with RCA came to an abrupt end and for the first time since 1973 she was without a label. Over the next decade she would push out three albums for different labels, but nothing really clicked. She truly returned to form in 2004 with When I Look Down That Road. The album found her back in singer/songwriter mode with Manchester writing or co-writing every song on the LP. It was a critical success that put her back in the music spotlight.

ReduxReview:  This one I don't understand. From what I've read, Manchester was not happy with Arista, Clive Davis, and the dance-pop diva direction of her career. When she got free of Arista, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to return to her singer/songwriter sound. But what happened? She signed on with MCA and issued her most synthpop album ever. Why? It boggles my mind. What a waste of talent. This song is fairly typical of the material on the album. It's slightly better than some of the other tracks because Manchester co-wrote it and there are signed of her writing hidden in here, yet it's still so calculated (pardon the pun) and cold, which is not like the real Manchester. The album didn't lack in quality songwriters either with Martin Page, Robbie Nevil, Diane Warren, and even George Michael all lending a hand. But none of the material was above average and any artist could have recorded them. I've ranted all through this era of Manchester's career, but if you go back and listen to her pre-80s albums, you will understand why. In fact, her 2004 LP mentioned above was excellent. I did a review of that LP for allmusic.com that praised her return. However, for this point in her career, yeesh.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  For the Mathematics album, Manchester co-wrote a song with Tom Snow titled "Just One Lifetime." The piano ballad was the only non-synth based track on the album and was more in-line with Manchester's singer/songwriter origins. It was released as the LP's third single, but it failed to reach any chart. However, there was one person that the song attracted - Barbra Streisand. In 1998, Streisand was set to marry actor James Brolin and Manchester thought the song would be a fit for the wedding and sent a new demo to Streisand, who ended up liking the song. However, Streisand being Streisand, she wanted to make changes. Apparently the chorus was fine, but she wasn't happy with the verses and asked Manchester and Snow to revise them. They did and Streisand performed the song at her wedding. The following year the recorded studio version of the tune was included on her album A Love Like Ours.


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