Greatest Songs of the Fifties

Greatest Songs of the Fifties

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by Barry Manilow

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In the liner notes to The Greatest Songs of the Fifties, Barry Manilow reports his reaction to Clive Davis’s suggestion that he revisit bygone pop classics: “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this idea?” Maybe because Manilow himself was the destined singer to approach this project. His signature style -- rich in drama and effervescence, unembarrassed by overt…  See more details below


In the liner notes to The Greatest Songs of the Fifties, Barry Manilow reports his reaction to Clive Davis’s suggestion that he revisit bygone pop classics: “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this idea?” Maybe because Manilow himself was the destined singer to approach this project. His signature style -- rich in drama and effervescence, unembarrassed by overt emotion and sincere sentimentality -- is perfect for lush renditions of such 1950s hits as “It’s Not for Me to Say,” “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing,” "Young at Heart,” and “Venus.” Manilow, in exceptional vocal form, takes to these songs like old friends; not surprising, since he did grow up hearing them in his youth. Enhanced by production and arrangements that add just the right touch of period ambience, Manilow approaches the project with not the slightest touch of kitsch or condescension. Through him, and his talented co-producers (including Clive Davis) these songs regain their elegance and luster.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
A kind of a variation on Clive Davis' wildly successful American Classic Songbook albums for Rod Stewart, The Greatest Songs of the Fifties finds Barry Manilow singing vocal pop favorites of the Eisenhower era. Although there are songs that are indeed classics of the rock & roll era, there is no rock & roll here. Manilow has picked songs like "Venus," "Are You Lonesome Tonight?," "All I Have to Do Is Dream," and "Unchained Melody" (which originated in the '50s, but the Righteous Brothers had the biggest hit with it in 1965), which were on the pop crossover side of rock & roll in the latter half of the '50s. These are complemented by pop standards -- such as "It's Not for Me to Say," "Sincerely/Teach Me Tonight," "What a Diff'rence a Day Made," "Beyond the Sea" -- on an album that, in terms of repertoire, would not be out of step with the MOR pop LPs Mitch Miller produced at Columbia in the '50s and '60s. Of course, The Greatest Songs of the Fifties is a 2006 release, so it has a slick, semi-synthesized sheen and a warm, hazy glaze of nostalgia which, truth be told, isn't all that far removed from Manilow's big hits of the '70s, when Barry was romanticizing the Copacabana and doing big-band medleys on-stage. Given this, it shouldn't be a shock that Barry comes across as a slick, accomplished professional on these songs, never doing anything surprising but never resorting to hammy shtick, either, the way that Rod occasionally does on his songbook albums. That said, Greatest Songs isn't as rich musically as Rod's records, primarily because Manilow doesn't collaborate with an outside arranger here, or even many other producers: as the back cover says, "all song layouts created by Barry Manilow", and he keeps this within the realm of a nostalgic supper club revue. He does it well and he does it professionally, which will certainly make this record pleasing to his fans, but the record is just a shade too predictable (but never unpleasant) for listeners who aren't already firmly within Manilow's camp.

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Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Barry Manilow   Primary Artist,Piano
Gary Foster   Saxophone,Woodwind
Jim Atkinson   French Horn
Kevin Bassinson   Conductor
Kenneth Burward-Hoy   Viola
Artie Butler   Conductor
Bryant Byers   Trombone
Jorge Calandrelli   Conductor
Dave Carpenter   Bass
Gene Cipriano   Saxophone,Woodwind
Ronald Clark   Violin
Larry Corbett   Celli
Randy Crenshaw   Background Vocals
Yvette Devereaux   Violin
Earl Dumler   Oboe
Assa Drori   Violin,Concert Master
Ray Ellis   Conductor
Stefanie Fife   Celli
Ronald Folsom   Violin
Armen Garabedian   Violin
Daniel Greco   Percussion
Dan Higgins   Saxophone,Woodwind
Paula Hochhalter   Celli
Carrie Holzman-Little   Viola
Greg Huckins   Saxophone,Woodwind
Jon Joyce   Background Vocals
Mike Lent   Guitar
Warren Leuning   Trumpet
Charles Loper   Trombone
Larry Lunetta   Trumpet
Larry McGuire   Trumpet
Joe Melotti   Piano
Tommy Morgan   Harmonica
Cynthia Moussas   Violin
Ron Pedley   Piano
Kazi Pitelka   Viola
Barbara Porter   Violin
Harry Shirinian   Viola
David Stenske   Violin
Gary Stockdale   Background Vocals
Sheridon Stokes   Flute
Joe Stone   Oboe
Brad Warnaar   French Horn
Doug Walter   Conductor
Chauncey Welsch   Trombone
Margaret Wooten   Violin
Shari Zippert   Violin
Gayle Levant   Harp
Dave Stone   Bass
Marcia Dickstein   Harp
Christina Soule   Celli
Steve Welch   Piano
Larry Blank   Conductor
William Ross   Conductor
Wayne Bergeron   Trumpet
Charlie Davis   Trumpet
Steve Baxter   Trombone
Rowena Hamil   Celli
John Krovoza   Celli
Russ McKinnon   Drums
George Shelby   Saxophone,Woodwind
Paul Klintworth   French Horn
Irina Voloshina   Violin
Ken Berry   Guitar,Conductor
Brian Benning   Violin
Jennifer Munday   Violin
Olivia Tsui   Violin
Jennifer Walton   Violin
Liane Mautner   Violin
John "4 Daddman" Robinson   Drums
Don Shelton   Saxophone,Woodwind
Samuel Formicola   Viola
Chris Gray   Trumpet
Alyssa Park   Violin
Becky Bunnell   Violin
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson   Viola
Charles Bisharette   Violin
Neel Hammond   Violin
Craig Gosnell   Trombone
Dynell Weber   Violin
Caroline Buckman   Viola
Yan To   Violin
Danielle Ondarza   French Horn
Tereza Stanislav   Violin
Rodney Hurtz   Viola
Connie Nassios   Choir, Chorus
Mark Adams   French Horn
Steven Becknell   French Horn
Mario de León   Violin
John Mitchell   Bassoon
David H. Speltz   Celli
Raymond Tischer   Viola
Kevin Connolly   Violin

Technical Credits

Barry Manilow   Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes
Johnny Richards   Composer
María Mendez Grever   Composer
Charles Trénet   Composer
Jerry Ross   Composer
Stanley Adams   Composer
Eddie Arkin   Producer
Kevin Bassinson   Arranger
Boudleaux Bryant   Composer
Artie Butler   Arranger
Sammy Cahn   Composer
Jorge Calandrelli   Arranger
Clive Davis   Producer,Liner Notes
Gene DePaul   Composer
Ray Ellis   Arranger
Sammy Fain   Composer
Harvey Fuqua   Composer
Garry Kief   Executive Producer
Alex North   Composer
Carl Sigman   Composer
Roy Turk   Composer
Doug Walter   Arranger
Paul Webster   Composer
Ken Welch   Vocal Arrangements
Mitzie Welch   Vocal Arrangements
Hy Zaret   Composer
Larry Blank   Arranger
David Benson   Producer
Walter Afanasieff   Arranger,Producer
William Ross   Orchestral Arrangements
Carolyn Leigh   Composer
Lou Handman   Composer
Charles Dawes   Composer
Ken Berry   Arranger

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The Greatest Songs of the Fifties 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've always felt the Fifties-style stations over-emphasized the rock side of that decade. In reality, nearly every one of these selections actually topped the pop charts of that era. They have been sadly absent from the Fifties of "revisionist history." This compilation truly seems to be a labor of love for Manilow and his long-time mentor, Clive Davis. None of these renditions equals the original, but taken as a whole, the project evokes the Fifties I remember from my youth. The arrangements, while fresh-sounding, are especially evocative of the era. His duet with Phyllis Maguire of the Maguire Sisters on "Sincerely/Teach Me Tonight" is enjoyable just to hear her voice again (akin to Patti Page's contribution to George Jones' gospel project.) In short, this endeavor succeeds on a number levels and should have across the board appeal.