Thursday, May 15, 2008

Barry Manilow's First Album Press Kit



Joyce Comments: The following was posted online by a fan collector of Manilow memorabila. This press kit is from the 1974 Barry Manilow II album that included two black and white press stills. Inside the press kit, apparently was two black and white 8" x 10" stills which are shown here. According to the original post: "This kit had evidently been sent by Wendy Morris of Barry's then publicity firm, Tomorrow Today, to a girl who was writing an article for the City University Press in New York City in May, l974."

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By Jane Doe [Not her real name]

May 11, 1974: The Bottom Line. Lanky, lean Barry Manilow walks on stage, his long blond strands bob up and down with each step he takes. His image is one of pure white, white jacket, white pants and white high shoes. He slides into the piano bench and turns to his waiting audience. Bright blue eyes flash, he grins, and begins joking in an easy, flowing monologue. Barry has totally won his listeners' approval within the first five minutes of the show, and he hasn't yet touched a note on that piano. Some call it charisma.

"Cloudburst," a fast and furious piece bursts forth as the audience begins beating their feet in rhythm. The song is so fast one wonders how he manages to get all the words in and make them comprehensible! There is this skinny young man at the piano, pounding away in glee, with this abundant amount of charm pouring through his face and music. There beside Barry stand his three ladies; Sharon, Robin and Charlotte, Bette Midler's used-to-be Harlettes, and the whole show comes right into your living room or rather, brings you into theirs.

Song after song Barry holds his audience in captivity with heart-gripping ballads such as "I Am Your Child," "One of These Days," and "Sweet Life." The most notable piece performed from Barry's new album titled "Barry Manilow," is the Chopin-inspired "Could It Be Magic." Prior to beginning the song Barry removes his white jacket to sport a shirt with the name Chopin sprayed across it in gold glitter. Ah, glitter rock you say; the shirt, definitely; the music, now that is something for everyone.

May 11, 1974, 10:30 P.M.: The Bottom Line. Standing ovations for Mr. Barry Manilow, probably a first exposure to Manilow for many of the people who were lucky enough to catch Barry at the Bottom Line. He stands to leave and the glittering letters of Chopin's name shine out to his audience; so does his face. So this is Barry Manilow; impressive, very impressive. Who'd have believed, State Farm Insurance, the Pepsi Generation, Dr Pepper, Stridex, Vitalis and the ever famous McDonalds, all behind the scene Barry. Barry Manilow: for the kids, for Mom and Dad, even for Grandpa, bringing Chopin to the masses. He is so wonderfully and charmingly Jewish he could have been Bar Mitzvahed yesterday! What's more, his talent matches his charm; exuberant, effervescent and totally enchanting. I knew then, that I had to meet this man.

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May 17, 1974: I am waiting outside the door of Barry Manilow's apartment for an interview. I press the bell; the door pulls open. Introductions for the City University Press.

"Just give me a second to tuck my shirt into my pants." Barry disappears into his bedroom and reappears in seconds. The living room is large with one wall windowed looking out to a small, heavily flowered terrace area and a piano tucked away in a far corner, a large corner at that! Bette Midler's gold albums hang near several pictures of Barry and books and records are all over the room on various shelves and cases. Bagel, the beagle, jumps frantically at the sight of company, anxious to make new friends. Plop onto the brown plush couch as Barry kindly brings in some coke. Pepsi, I presume! Barry strides into the room, bringing back huge wine glasses filled with Pepsi. In 92 degree weather, a cold drink was greatly appreciated. We sit, all of Barry, all six feet, once again dressed impressively in white.

He just gets comfortable when the doorbell rings. I remind myself that Charlie, our amateur photographer, should be arriving. Barry opens the door and I introduce them, finally getting down to business, yet who wants to?? Barry makes us feel so at home, I'd rather be a friend visiting! The slums of Williamsburg, Barry's start in this world. His family was always interested in music yet not professionally. In fact, the "Barry Manilow" album opens with a small bit of family spirit: Grandpa trying to coax a very young Barry Manilow to sing on one of those old Times Square records. He didn't feel like singing then, but you can't stop him now. Barry says that he wanted his album to be a personal thing and the old self-made record was the nicest thing he could have come up with. Original and intimate, it is a splendid setting for the rest of the album bringing a smile of familiarity to the listener's face. A gift from Barry.

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Thinking that music might be too unstable a job, Barry decided that advertising would be a much better deal. The kind of thing you could "make a living" with! So off to City College he went to study advertising, and out he came soon after, totally discouraged with a stable but unsuitable profession. Lucky for Barry, he never had anything but family support when he made his decision to enter the music world in a career capacity.

Charlie is busily snapping away pictures as Barry tells us that he started on the road to success by first playing piano around the country, as a coach to several singers. Stability was achieved with a position working for CBS, conducting for "The Ed Sullivan Show."

"I didn't care for that though. They didn't appreciate a new young kid coming in and running the show."

"Oh, but wouldn't they appreciate it now?!" I interject, asking when he was born. Just curiosity, astrology: a good conversation piece. Barry is a Gemini. Versatile? Lots of nervous energy? Built slender, agile, tall? Eager? He seems to fit the bill, Gemini, the twins; sort of a split personality. I quickly sum up most of what I know about Gemini and Barry does seem to fit. As do most Geminis, Barry knows where he stands and he knows where he's headed. His favorite color, blue. I reach into my memory for the info on psychology of colors. Blue: calm, sure, confident. He'll make it. He's got all of what it takes, and now the lucky break.

Lucky is not all that Barry is. He has only been touring on his own for two months or so, and he has had an incredible amount of success. That takes more than luck, it takes talent. It startles him to see just how well he is doing and Barry still can't believe it.

"Before I went on at the Continental Baths, following Bette, I was so nervous I was throwing up backstage!" Barry tells us confidentially. He no longer gets nervous before a show for replacing the nervousness is a sweep of excitement and anticipation. Barry Manilow, just getting out on the road, has had a number of successful performances including a round of cafe gigs: The Bottom Line, The Bijou Cafe in Philadelphia, Mr. Kelly's in Chicago, the Continental Baths also in New York, and numerous others. As for what Barry has ahead of him, there is no limit to his abilities.

"I don't want to do any one thing. I'd like to produce, write and sing."

Presently Barry is working on a new album, a follow-up to his first brilliant attempt. His ambition is to reach an excellence equivalent to that of the Beatles' "Abbey Road." The greater influences upon Barry's music have been people like Burt Bacharach (to whom he has so often been compared) and he has recently become extremely interested in the Black Philadelphia sound, mainly the material of Stylistics' song writer, Tom Bell.

"I want to learn from Black music. Basically I'm a white singer, but I'm getting into the Philadelphia sound and there's a lot to be learned there."

Although Barry has studied at Julliard (sic), he feels his musical background is pop oriented and he appreciates well written rock music. When asked whether or not Barry would consider performing some of the material he likes, written by various rock artists, Barry replied thoughtfully.

"I'm not adverse to doing other people's music either, but it would have to be uniquely done. I would have to do it in my own style, and it would have to be all my own sound. Like when I did Bette's "Friends" on my album."

Barry goes on to tell us the story of how he arranged a new arrangement of "Friends" so that Bette would be able to release that particular song from her album as a single. It seems that a tour came up during that time, and Bette never did get to release the new arrangement Barry had worked out. So he asked her if he could do it himself, and that is the smashingly different sound "Friends" presents on the Barry Manilow album.

This ambitious musical man wants to do well, not only for himself but for the people he works with. Barry has an excellent relationship with his fellow workers and as he so sincerely puts it, "I want to do well because the people I work with deserve it. They are experts and great people and when they expect a lot from me, I want to give it to them." What better way to form a working relationship?

As for Barry's style of music, it is soft, swaying, often pumping with a pulsating beat, complex in its production and orchestration.

"My lyrics are simple yet straightforwardly honest. Sometimes they're so simple, if they weren't so real, they would border on idiotic!" Barry laughs confidently at his own self-criticism. Yet his lyrics appeal to all types of people, and right now that is Barry's main goal for his music. What he wants now, is to reach as large and varied a listening public as he can. I told him how I had exposed a group of elderly people, residents of a nursing home, to his music and how well received the music was. The group, incidently, ranged in age from 60-90!

"Wow! Really? That makes me happy. I'm glad you told me that 'cause I'd like to reach all ages, be universal in my music." Barry would like to write for the young as well as the old and be appealing to all. He'd rather not write material which is terribly personal having the effect of losing his audience. Barry also prefers to stay away from creating political commentaries and social statements.

"I don't want people to listen to my music and wonder, 'What's he talking about?' I want people to relate to what I write." And his music can certainly be related to.

As for fame, Barry seems to be headed straight towards it, full speed ahead. He is skyrocketing to the top at an amazing pace and has the potential for staying there a long time. When asked how he is taking his new found popularity, Barry laughs, a look of wonder entering his gleaming blue eyes.

"I still can't quite believe it! The other night my doorbell rang at two o'clock in the morning. I was fast asleep and I got up so tired to ask who it was. Some fan, a girl, was out there and asked if I needed company! I've got to get my phone number out of the book now and watch out for people getting my address!"

Fame: unlisted telephone numbers, hidden addresses. Yes, Barry, you are on your way to the wild, wacky world of the pop star. A "Teen-age Idol." But why not? Barry Manilow seems well adjusted to the idea and perhaps he even looks forward to it, just a bit! Just go out there and make music, make people happy, give millions the desire to dance close once again, weave dreams of love and beautiful notes, sparkle a stage with movement and momentous charm and talent. This, Mr. Manilow, is what you are about.

And here he is folks, Mr. Barry Manilow!


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Originally posted 9/02/2007 09:56:00 AM

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