113 of 118 people found the following review helpful
Boasting twenty songs and nearly 80 minutes of music, Ultimate Manilow presents fans with a single disc collection that contains every major hit from 1974's "Mandy" to his last Top 10 hit, 1980's "I Made It Through the Rain." In addition, you get Manilow's update of the "Bandstand" theme song and a couple of his early-Eighties minor hits ("The Old Songs" and "Somewhere Down the Road") and his attempt at a more jazz-influenced sound on "When October Goes" from 1984's "2:00 AM Paradise Cafe."
Never the critics' darling, Manilow had a non-stop string of hits through the Seventies, including three No. 1's and five million-sellers. Billboard archivist Joel Whitburn listed Manilow at No. 12 among the Top Artists of the Seventies--based on chart position and weeks spent on the chart.
Michael Jackson might have been the King of Pop, but Manilow was the King of the Romantic Ballad. [Trivia footnote: Manilow's coproducer and sometime background vocalist on his first nine albums was ex-Archie Ron Dante.] If you were a teenager anytime during the Seventies, these songs have been burned into your brain. This is everything the casual fan will want or need. RECOMMENDED
67 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2002
When was the last time Barry Manilow seriously charted a record? My guess is that it's been about 20 years since broke the top 25, let alone the top 10. Well, lookie here -- this album debuts on the Billboard 100 this week at #3. You read it right.....NUMBER THREE.
The really "Ultimate" thing about Manilow is that for all the jokes about him over the years - he has always had the last laugh. As a songwriter/arranger who most thought had only a passable voice with his thick Brooklyn accent, he became one of the top vocalists of the 1970's with many of his biggest hits being the songs he DIDN'T write. He also single-handedly brought back the sound of a full orchestra in popular music after years of only rhythm instruments.
When the early 1980's arrived and musical tastes changed, Manilow disappeared from the airwaves. But he has never disappeared from the public. He maintained and built his solid concert following worldwide, selling out shows for years and years. The average person in the U.S.A. has no concept of how big Barry is all over the world. In fact, unless you have and play his old albums, many people haven't heard him in years because his records don't even get played on "oldies" stations and only occasionally on "granny" stations.
Manilow's unabashed vocal sincerity and musical romanticism, while not always hip, has always been "in". As be-bop, hip-hop, new wave, grunge, and every other here today/gone tomorrow style passes by, the one constant is the romantic ballad. Barry knows it and never strays far from it. Unlike Coca-Cola who foolishly changed their winning formula several years ago to disasterous effect, Manilow is constant and loyal to both his product and his fans. He makes no apologies and you're either with him or you're not - but HE'S not going to change.
As for the songs in this collection, they are quintessential Barry - huge production values, soaring vocals, the halting drum break before the inevitable key-change. I had the full library of Manilow albums while growing up and we have long since parted. It's great to have the cream of the crop (with a few minor omissions) on one CD. These songs bring back some great memories.
I'm thrilled for Barry that he's regaining some prominence with this collection, his appearance on "Ally McBeal", and at the Super Bowl pre-game festivities. I suspect that about four years from now when he turns 60 and is tired of touring, we're going to see Barry pitch his tent in Branson, Missouri at the Copacabana Theater! Good for him.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2002
Barry Manilow has had a lot of great songs,unfortunately they have not been captured on "best-ofs" very well. Finally though someone at Arista came up with this. All of his major and most important top 40 hits are here. The notable ommissions are
"When I Wanted You", and "Some Kind of Freind", but no greatest hits album is ever perfect. Barry Manilow is one of the most underrated musicians in the history of the music business. I hope maybe this will help to end that. Bravo! to Arista.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Throughout the 1970's, Barry Manilow conjured up some of the most everlasting and enduring songs of our times. Although many of us still listen to him as a guilty pleasure, I wasn't influenced by his music at that time. When I heard Ultimate Manilow, it really changed into tune.
Ultimate Manilow is a retrospective of Barry Manilow's legendary career. Not like most collection where you'd have to buy it just for one or two songs, this album is proof that all the songs make up a great collection. Songs like Mandy, Somewhere Down The Road, I Write The Songs, and Even Now, are still being played in romantic lovers all across the country.
Considering his time, Barry Manilow has made over 20 albums in his career, and will celebrate his 30th annversary in 2003. Still, the Ultimate Manilow collection is truly the peak of a underrated legend. A legend that used to play backup for Bette Midler, and can't smile without you.
34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2002
Could it be magic? Undoubtedly, Barry Manilow's collection of the songs fans have loved for over a quarter century will leave you alternately teary-eyed, smiling sadly, and dancing. From the romantic "Somewhere In the Night" to the stand up and dance rhythms of "Bandstand Boogie" it's no surprise that legions of Manilow devotees are coming out of the woodwork to buy this compilation of his greatest achievements. When he sings "I Write the Songs" (one of the few he didn't) it's easy to understand his long-lasting appeal. Simply, he writes the songs that make the whole world sing, he writes the songs of love and special things. So pick this one up and listen to the soundtrack of your life---from "Ready To Take A Chance Again" to "I Made It Through The Night" to my personal favorite, "Even Now." No wonder we can't smile without you, Barry!
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2002
The man has outdone himself! This is a noteworthy compilation of the all-time best music of Barry Manilow. His music just lives on and on...bringing joy and tears and just about every other emotion in that spectrum. This is for those who aren't afraid to feel...aren't afraid to remember and appreciate life at its fullest. If you appreciate Barry's many talents - buy this CD. And if you aren't a Barry-believer yet - you will be once you listen to this.
Thank you, Barry. You have touched so many...said so much... What would the world be like without you?...we just can't smile - or cry or laugh or sing - without you!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2004
Until last year, the only way to get all of Barry Manilow's biggest hits was either the boxed set or the three - volume greatest hits sets. Both were acceptable (the latter even features some great minor hits and key album cuts) but were a bit pricey. 2003's "Ultimate Manilow" solved the problem. Compiling 20 of Barry's best seemed hard, but the effort turned out to be flawless.
Just about every Barry classic is here. Indeed, you will recognize almost evry song here. Many fans can still remember the first time they heard "Mandy", "I Write The Songs", "Can't Smile Without You" and "Copacabana" bursting through the airwaves. Whether they were his own songs or songs written by other writers (like "Mandy", the ironic "I Write The Songs", "Somewhere In The Night" and the Oscar - nominated "Ready To Take A Chance Again"), once Barry recorded a song he made it untouchabble. Songs like "It's A Miracle" and 1984's "When October Goes" showed that Barry was able to branch out of the "easy listening" realm and allow himself to experiment with disco and jazz and still come out on top.
My complaints are the usual ones: two minor top 40 hits from his peak 1970s' period aren't here ("When I Wanted You" and "I Don't Want To Walk Without You"), plus some low - charting 1980s' singles ("Let's Hang On", "Memory", the top 20 "Read 'Em And Weep", "I'm Your Man") and nice album cuts ("New York City Rhythm", "One Voice", "Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed"). Other than that, it's a really excellent collection of songs that should be cherished for years to come.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2002
This collection bridges the gap for people who love these songs,but don't neccesarily consider themselves hard core Manilow fans. Some people can't handle the abuse that comes with loving Barry!(At the concert is New Orleans on Feb.2 Barry thanked us fans for our love and support."I know it's not easy to be a Manilow fan!" he said.)
This compilation is Barry's last for Arista. A label who served him well for many years, but if you think Barry is resting on his larels and riding on his early hits . . .You are very mistaken!
Barry has indeed moved on. Check out his new album for Concord Records, "Here at the Mayflower". Phenomenal!! Barry hasn't lost a step I assure you. If anything, he's even better.
So, hopefully "Ultimate Manilow" will lead the hesitant to discover how talented Barry truly is. There are 30 albums availabe to back it up. Thanks Barry!!!
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2002
I am a longtime Manilow fan. I admit it. I own everything they've released. When I put this on I was so disappointed. The songs don't sound right. The arrangements sound very different. It seems like I hear a lot more bass and a lot less of everything else. I liked these songs when they were hits and that's how I want to hear them. While I like the songs on this package I can't recommend you buy it. I'd stay with the old Greatest Hits CD. It's done right and sounds great.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2003
while i don't agree that the CD should have been called "Ultimate Manilow" (that honor goes to "The Complete Collection and Then Some...") i am glad that Arista has compiled 20 of the essential Manilow hits on one CD and now i don't have to listen to 1989's three-volume set of "Greatest Hits" and i can give them a rest.first things first. it has always annoyed me that Barry's critics and naysayers never really say what irks them about Barry. one reviewer simply lists a bunch of his songs as "poo"(?) and never really says the reason they think they're "poo", whatever that word means. secondly, i am a big fan of comedy songs and comedy in general (i'm a fan of Ray Stevens, Stan Freberg, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Bob Newhart among others). i think it's cute when Barry sings "Copacabana", "Bandstand Boogie", "Daybreak", or a 1980 hit that isn't on this collection: the U.K. smash "Bermuda Triangle". getting to the point, what's wrong with a pop singer having sincerity and care for lyrics? who said that pop singers have to prance around that morons ( Metallica, Aerosmith, Kiss, REM, etc.) and sing about killing their wives/girlfriends or glorifying America's obsession with material items? (Madonna, Britney Spears, Christina Augueilra or however her name's spelled, Avaril Lavigne, etc.). what's wrong with a singer simply singing songs about reality? you know, nobody has the right to tell someone that they're too sentimental or mawkish. fine if such things make you vomit, but remember that you're not the only ones who listen to music, either! get this CD and you'll be amazed at Barry's wonderful vocals and his trademark 'power ballads'. all 20 songs are excellent. my favorites are "Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again", "Ships", "I Write The Songs", "Mandy", "Looks Like We Made It", "Even Now", "The Old Songs", and "Can't Smile Without You". the only drawback is the omission of his brilliant 1979 hit "When I Wanted You" and several mid '80s rockers: "Read 'Em and Weep", "I'm Your Man", "You're Lookin' Hot Tonight", and "It's All Behind Us Now". the CD's liner notes are small excerpts from a TV interview on a show called 'Musicians' that coincided with the release of this Top-10 ranked album (it reached #3)!