One could say Melissa Manchester is one of the three “Big Ms” of Adult Contemporary music—the other two being sometime Manchester collaborators Barry Manilow and Bette Midler. Since 1973, she’s had her share of Grammy nominations and wins, enjoyed co-writing duties with the likes of Carole Bayer Sager and Kenny Loggins, and achieved very high sales for both her albums and hit singles.
Among those major sellers are previous compilation albums, and Playlist is clearly not intended to be a “Greatest Hits” collection or a comprehensive overview of her career. Instead, it’s a budget-priced assortment of 14 songs most Manchester fans likely already have. While Playlist contains a few rarities, its primary audience should be those who enjoy Manchester’s music but haven’t yet picked up a good retrospective of her songs from 1975 to 2011.
The songs are not presented in a strict chronological order, but it’s easy to trace how Manchester has developed considerably since the mid-70s when her main calling card was producing dance hits. Appropriately, the set opens with her first Top Ten hit from 1975, “Midnight Blue.” From the same year, the disco single “Just Too Many People” is the first of three overt mirror-ball numbers including “Shine Like You Should” and “You Should Hear How She Talks About You,” a Grammy winner in 1982.
From 1979 we get two highlights, including Peter Allen’s Grammy nominated “Don't Cry Out Loud.” In the same year, Manchester made Academy Award history by performing two movie themes on the same night from both "The Promise" and "Through The Eyes of Love" (the theme song from Ice Castles). For some reason, only the latter is included on Playlist, however. Along the way Manchester gets a little bit country with “Talkin' To Myself,” very bluesy with the haunting “Come In From The Rain,” and makes a respective nod to one of her influences, Dionne Warwick, with the 1989 remake of “Walk On By.”