Childhood Classic CD Review: Collins’ “Serious” Side Kept Hits Flowing

But Seriously was released Nov 6. 1989.

Every once in a while, I will be reviewing a release from my childhood or musical past that made an influence on me. Some of these will be well known, and others may have been passed by under the radar. Most will not be in the hard rock/metal genre. You can see reviews in that genre written by me in the Retro Review section on the webpage Sleazeroxx.com  

 

After his last solo album, 1985’s No Jacket Required, which spawned hits like “Don’t Lose My Number,” “Sussudio,” “One More Night,” and a tour with band Genesis for Invisible Touch, Phil Collins was on a musical roll. He was charting hit after hit in the 1980s, and a question was how long could he continue? Those that have read his book know that a lot of the stories from the 1980s are basically him not remembering much about them, due to his massive schedule.

1989’s But Seriously was a more politically based album for Collins, with songs like “Another Day in Paradise” (which won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1991), and “Colours” (which is almost 10 minutes long). Many artists started to see that the fun time party music of the 1980s were coming to an end, and some started to use more social issues in their songwriting. Collins started to use more live drumming to some of the songs, as opposed to the drum programming from his 80s work.

The album starts off with the blaring horns of “Hang in Long Enough,” which has a rock style to it, with horns by The Penix Horns adding a flavor to it, similar to Earth Wind and Fire, along with an edgy guitar throughout the song.

The album then slows down immensely on track two with “That’s Just The Way It Is,” which has a similar opening to the following song, which makes it odd placing listening to it now. This style of ballads is in the classic style of Collins’ work in the 1990s into the 2000s, especially with his soundtrack work in movies.

One of my all time songs by Collins is track three. “Do You Remember” is a song I never get tired of decades later. The piano melody, and the lyrics on this ballad is a pop classic. Lyrically, talking about a relationship that has run its course, was used when I was an English teacher at a private school in Ohio, using the tag “People are funny sometimes/they just can’t wait to get hurt again, ”  for a creative writing prompt, along with using the song in looking at poetry in music. The music video for the song is one of my all time favorites, with Collins being flash-backed to his school days when he befriends a girl and they become best friends, before she moves away. I can relate to this, due to the fact that one of my best friends growing up in junior high was female (she didn’t move away, but when high school hit, we went our own ways). If you have not seen the video, it is a must see. The song was a smash hit here in the U.S., hitting #1 on the AC charts, but still isn’t mentioned when people list some of his great songs, for some odd reason. Album flow wise, with this song being placed right after track two, which is so similar in structure, I’d say skip #2 and go straight to this one. It features Stephen Bishop on backing vocals, along with great guitar work by Daryl Stuermer.  I think this is one of the best pop ballads of the 1980s.

The horn section takes over again with “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven, ” along with a strong drum sound . Another hit off the album, this is another gem from the album. This is a strong powerful fun track with a big band rock feel.

The album also brought out the hits “Another Day in Paradise” with David Crosby helping out vocally, and “I Wish It Would Rain Down,” with Eric Clapton on guitar. I was never a fan of the first of these two, but the second has that crying guitar sound that Clapton is known for, which adds to the sadness of the song. Once again, the video, with Clapton having an appearance in it, is a throw back to the days of Collins’ acting days before branching into music (named Billy Collins) . It has a bluesy ballad to it with strong guitar playing. I am not against politically driven songs, but I always thought that compared to his other work, “Paradise” was a weaker song, yet it got more success critically for him, when previously the “experts” scoffed at Collins’ work.

“Heat On The Street’ is a more up tempo version of “Two Hearts” from a few years earlier, from the soundtrack to his film “Buster,” with its swing style rhythm, but with more political lyrics to it.

Two of the rarer cuts that are not usually discussed on the album is “All Of My Life,” a song that starts like a typical Phil slow ballad, but builds up with power during the choruses. The other rare song I love is the last song on the album, “Find A Way To My Heart,” which has personal meaning to it for me.

One my of best friends in high school was an illusionist, and was heavily inspired by David Copperfield. At the time I helped him write some jokes and give him some musical tips that may work for his tricks. After being influenced by a trick where Copperfield used the song “Mama” by Genesis, he decided to use this final track on this record as not only for a trick, but also was using it as his final song being played at his shows.

When I first got this release, there were many songs I skipped over, and only listened to some of the singles (except for “Find A Way..” which I always listened to with my friend). “Do You Remember” is still my favorite off the whole album. Although I do not have a bunch of Phil Collins’ releases in my collection (I have No Jacket Required on vinyl), besides this one and his 1998 Greatest hits (which for some reason doesn’t have “Don’t Lose My Number” which is a bummer), But Seriously is still an album that holds up years later. I stopped buying his studio releases after this, due to me not liking the soundtracks and too many of his songs sounding the same. The childhood memories of certain songs makes this album special for me, although I do not consider it a complete album track for track.

 

Track Listing:

  1. Hang On Long Enough 2. That’s Just the Way It Is 3. Do You Remember 4. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven 5. Colours 6. I Wish It Would Rain Down 7. Another Day in Paradise 8. Heat on the Street 9. All Of My Life 10. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning 11.Father to Son 12. Find A Way to My Heart

 

 

 

 

Childhood Classic : Barry Manilow 1989- Simple Title But Memorable Songs

Barry Manilow was released on May 2, 1989

Every once in a while, I will be reviewing a release from my childhood or musical past that made an influence on me. Some of these will be well known, and others may have been passed by under the radar. Most will not be in the hard rock/metal genre. You can see reviews in that genre written by me in the Retro Review section on the webpage Sleazeroxx.com, or on my online portfolio at llumleyportfolio.wordpress.com

 

My first exposure to Barry Manilow was during my sophomore year in high school. I took a theater arts class and one day we were listening to the song “Memory” from Cats. The title looked familiar to me, so I went home and dug around my parents 45s (remember them??), where they had two of Manilow’s records ; 1981’s “The Old Songs”/ “Don’t Fall In Love With Me” and “Heart of Steel”/Memory” from 1982. A few years later , I stumbled upon Manilow’s PBS special from England, which ended up being “The Greatest Hits And Then Some” release. I was mesmerized by the show, and had to listen to more of his music. I played those 45s over and over again to the point where I needed some newer material. I saw an ad on television in 1997 that Manilow was coming to Starlake Amphitheater in Burgettstown , P.A. I had to get tickets to see him. My mother took me to the local National Record Mart, so I could get tickets the day they came out. If it weren’t for her, I would not have been able to see him. She gave me her credit card to use, and when the guy printed out the tickets, he mentioned that it was cash only (although there was nothing stating that before the sale date or at the store itself in the ticket policies). Luckily, she had cash on her, and I was shocked at the price of the tickets; I saw my first concert in 1991 with lawn seats at the same amphitheater for 18 dollars. Each ticket was $40 for Manilow, plus service charge, which was a lot back then (but they ended up being like 10th row-and now some of his seats go for over $100) .

After the show, I had to get some more Manilow releases (I had the cassettes of the 1978 Greatest Hits and the 1989 Volume 1 which I got from the BMG music club.) . I went to Best Buy, and the only CDs they carried were the Greatest Hits from 1989 (Volumes I, II and III), along with his self titled 1989 album. I chose the self titled one as my first Manilow CD.

Some fans have dubbed Barry Manilow as the “purple album”, because he released several other albums with his name on it; his debut in 1973, Barry Manilow II (1974), 1980’s Barry, and 1985’s Manilow. Whatever fans want to call it, it was an unique album for many reasons besides the title; all but one song had outside writers on it (Manilow usually wrote or co-wrote most of his songs, and allowed few outside writers at this time), it had a polished production, and it was his last all original music until 2001, where besides some live releases, he released covers and themed albums from Broadway, the Big Band era, and the 1970s (The Summer of ’78 album is highly underrated) . It was also one of the longer run times from previous records , almost an hour long.

The opener “Please Don’t Be Scared,” is a wonderful ballad to start off the record. Manilow still sticks to the formula of loss, love, and hope in his songs. This first track , with the lyrics “Someday someone will make you glad you survived” brings the hope theme into play , while struggling to see the bigger picture in life.

“Keep Each Other Warm,” is a cover of the British group Bucks Fizz, and became a hit on the AC charts for Barry at #7. The soulful/ R&B song would have been placed perfectly along the radio songs by groups like Surface and Breathe. Unfortunately it was never played in my area stations in Youngstown, Ohio (where the local station was, although I live in Columbiana, Ohio, twenty minutes or so away). Manilow’s take on this song has more power to it instrumentally, where the original sounds like an ABBA cover band.

Songs like “Once and For All, ” and “The One That Got Away” continue the polished 1980s feel , where “The One That Got Away” has a simple chorus lyrically , which Manilow pulls off, even though it is some of the weaker songs on the release. Even though they are weaker than the others, a weak Manilow song can still be better than some artists’ best work.

“When the Good Times Come Again,” and “Some Good Things Never Last” are two great songs in a row. “…Good Times..” has the format, much like his hit “Somewhere Down The Road,” with the theme of hoping better things will come in the relationship after taking a break, where “Some Good Things Never Last” was featured on his follow up release, Live On Broadway. The opening line of “It’s 3 in the morning/You’re nowhere in sight” is a line that’s been thrown in my head numerous times for no reason whatsoever, especially being awake at 3 A.M. It’s a wonder to me, looking back now, why “Some Good Things Never Last” was not released as a single. It should have been on the pop or AC charts.

The last three songs are the songs I remember most about the release. “My Moonlight Memories Of You’ is a catchy song that displays Manilow’s love for Broadway songs. The song starts off one way , and then goes in another style, one that you could see Fred Astaire dancing and singing in an old time musical, or in a vaudeville show. The “I Can’t Smile Without You” feel of the song challenges the listener NOT to sing along, and with the end , where he is singing the melody while it fades out, one can picture the main star walking down the street while the camera pans overhead to the city while the credits roll.

“Anyone Can Do The Heartbreak” was a hit for Anne Murray in 1987. Both versions are just as good, and it’s hard to choose one over the other.

The final is a road song, “A Little Traveling Music, Please.” I first heard this song on the PBS special, or the VHS release of the show, I can’t remember exactly, but I thought it was a great , soft song about being on the road , and away from the special person. Many road songs in music, like “Faithfully “or “Turn The Page,” have power to it musically (hence the name power ballad), where this song is a refreshingly mellow and clam, with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta playing brushes on the track. This song is the perfect placement as the ender of the album. I played this song many times after playing in local bands as a drummer on the way home to calm my ears after playing rock and blues all night long. It takes a while for the song to get going, with an instrumental intro, but when the song gets going, its great.

Barry Manilow has wonderful memories for me. One, it was exposure to Manilow’s latest work, and not just the popular hits that I knew the time. It also had a long run time, so I got my money’s worth, along with some songs becoming my favorite rarer songs from his catalog (“Memories of You,” and “Traveling Music” are two of them).

The songs still hold up after 30 years, and doesn’t sound too dated, even though it is one of his more polished production wise albums (along with 1985’s Manilow) . Manilow fans all have their favorite albums (they are as passionate as Kiss, The Beatles, and The Oak Ridge Boys’ fans as which are their favorites), this is one of my favorites where I don’t have to skip songs ( I am not counting his cover albums). Even though some are a little weaker than others, it can play all the way through. This is a CD that gave me more of a love of Manilow’s music (especially when I was in college at the time, where his music was a friend to me). It is still a go-to CD to play when I want to hear some rarer Manilow songs.

You can read my other post on Barry’s rarer songs here in the archives, by typing in “Barry Manilow” in the search engine.

 

Track Listing: 1. Please Don’t Be Scared 2. Keep Each Other Warm 3.Once And For All 4. The One That Got Away 5.When The Good Times Come Again 6. Some Good Things Never Last 7. In Another World 8. You Begin Again 9.My Moonlight Memories Of You   10. Anyone Can Do The Heartbreak 11. A Little Traveling Music, Please