In the liner notes to 2:00 AM Paradise Café, Barry Manilow confessed that the record's concept came to him in a dream and that it's the album for which he'd most like to be remembered. That's some top-shelf comment about an album that seems like a pretty calculated move toward long-term success as a vocal talent, like Mel Tormé or Sarah Vaughan, both of whom duet with him on 2:00 AM. That said, the album does lay down a dusty, late-night groove. Vocally, Manilow is able to sell the concept that this is all taking place in the wee hours inside a half-empty basement cabaret. The shuffling percussion of Shelly Manne is spot on, as are the cool tones of baritone sax man Gerry Mulligan -- you can just picture the blinking neon from the hotel across the street reflecting in the gold of his horn. Mundell Lowe's electric guitar adds a burst of attitude to the otherwise straightforward "Big City Blues," and Manilow and Bill Mays' piano playing is solid throughout. There's a bit of a problem though, since most every arrangement sounds essentially the same. After about half the record, it begins to seem like it's all happening in slow motion, or at least someone's just going through them. It's refreshing to hear stripped-down arrangements and Manilow experimenting a bit with his delivery to suggest he's singing after the streets have rolled up. All of this means that, while 2:00 AM Paradise Café is as pleasant as a nightcap, it's not the fine wine Manilow's dreams told him it would be.
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Performance CreditsBarry Manilow Primary Artist,Piano
Mundell Lowe Guitar
Shelly Manne Drums
Bill Mays Piano,fender rhodes
Gerry Mulligan Baritone Saxophone
George Duvivier Bass
Sarah Vaughan Track Performer
Technical CreditsBarry Manilow Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes
Michael Braunstein Engineer
Roger Walls Contributor
Ria Lewerke Contributor,Art Direction
Susan Mendola Art Direction
Eric Borenstein Contributor
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2:00 AM Paradise Café based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
I've been a fan of Barry Manilow for more years that I'd like to admit to. I have most of his recordings; some stronger than others. But 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe defines his talent as a true artist. This is a definite change of pace for him, more of a blues/jazz focus. He floats over the music, evoking a smoke filled cabaret and the table in the corner. The duets are stunningly beautiful. He manages to use all the colors in his pallette to create a vibrant, lasting performance. I wore out the cassette and was thrilled when it was re-released on CD. This, simply, is his best work.
I've followed Barry Manilow's career over the years and must say that this is truly his finest work. He has broken away from the typical over the top ballads he is most known for. On other CD's there have always been one or two tunes with jazz/blues overtones. This however, is the only work devoted to that venue. Through the amazing talent collected for this work, (Sarah Vaughn, Gerry Mulligan, Mel Torme, etc), and the recording of it continuously by the musicians involved, from the title track, Paradise Cafe to the closing number, Night Song, the listener is transported to a Greenwich Village jazz club. You can see the smoke filled room, feel the quiet tapping of your foot to the tunes . . . If you're looking for a relaxing, well written and composed jazz album, give this one a try. It will not disappoint.