Running Time: 3:40
Reviewed by Sarika Chawla
Hot on the heels of a number-one album and packing the house with his hit Las Vegas show, veteran songman Barry Manilow is back with more for his devoted fans.
Manilow's "First and Farewell" DVD takes viewers on the journey of a mega-career that spans more than 30 years. Disc 1 showcases Manilow's first New York studio rehearsal, recorded in 1974 just before his first tour. Highlights include the hit song "Could it Be Magic" and lesser-known tunes like "Sweet Life" and a medley of jingles from his commercial writing days. The black-and-white video wasn't shot with the intention of being released, but what it lacks in production quality is more than made up for in historical value. Long-time fans will appreciate the footage of the geeky young musician who is so unaware of what success is in store for him.
Disc 2 is a recording of Manilow's performance at The Pond in Anaheim on his "One Night Live! One Last Time!" tour. Here, his polish and flair as a performer is a great contrast to his early days. With standbys like "Copacabana" and "Mandy," there are few surprises beyond a touching rendition of Joni Mitchell's Christmas tune "River." Also not intended for public release, this concert footage lacks the fine-tuned production value of the Las Vegas DVD, but it's a solid representation of audience favorites. The bonus features are limited to a few showtunes that will only appeal to a select audience.
Since it's nearly Christmas, Fanilows and baby-boomers may as well pick up Manilow's newest CD, "The Greatest Songs of the Sixties." After last year's number-one debut of fifties tunes, this release seems to follow the Rod Stewart philosophy-if you record it, they will come. It's hard to go wrong with standards like "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'" and "Strangers in the Night," and each song bears the singer/arranger's signature stamp.
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