As if there were any doubt given the name of the disc, Barry Manilow: Songs from the Seventies is exactly that. The DVD is of the concert performed in Manilow's hometown of New York City, New York for a PBS fundraising campaign, and highlights many of the songs included on his recent CD entitled The Greatest Hits From the Seventies.
For his long time fans, this concert will be as much of a 'coming home' as it was for Manilow. He states part way through the show that he grew up literally around the corner, and these songs are all well known favorites. Tracks like "My Eyes Adore You" and "It Never Rains in Southern California" are given special treatment and delivered with that especially emotive way Manilow has. He sings more than the lyrics; he conveys the emotion.
The concert is a blend of both covers from the album and some of Manilow's biggest hits from that decade, including "Mandy," "Looks Like We Made It," and "Copacabana."
"Copacabana" is performed here as an altered salsa mix of the song on the center round stage with an acoustic accompaniment. While it was interesting, and by no means bad, I was slightly disappointed to not see a more traditional version of one of the biggest hits of his career. Even if it had been included as an extra on the bonus disc it would have filled an obvious hole in the line up.
A fun little addition to the collection of top songs from the seventies is a medley of commercial jingles that he sold to pay the bills while waiting for his songs to hit the top of the charts. Each was accompanied with a bit of commentary. While I knew the McDonald's tune was his, I was unaware the Band-aids and State Farm jingles were also penned by Manilow. When you think about how catchy they are, I suppose it shouldn't be such a surprise, as they burn their way into your mind much in the same way as the choruses to songs like "Can't Smile Without You" and "I Write the Songs."
Another highlight of the concert was the medley of some of Manilow's hits. Included are the songs "Can't Smile Without You," "It's A Miracle," "I Made it through the Rain," and "I Write the Songs." This part of the concert was Manilow at his best, sitting behind a grand piano and delivering heartfelt songs. Not that the times he stepped away and walked the stage weren't entertaining, but serenading a crowd while playing the beautiful instrument is, without a doubt, Manilow at his finest.
It should be noted the main disc is the PBS special without any changes or added features. While the cutaway requests for pledge donations are missing, the editing is such that you see exactly where they were. This distracts some, because the mood is broken with each fade to black and long pause. It's not enough to make or break a purchase, but is something that could have been easily remedied in production of the DVD.
A bonus second disc is included which contains performances not included in the televised version of the concert. There are three tracks: "The Way We Were Medley," "All the Time," and "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed." Both discs are offered in Dolby digital sound.
Barry Manilow: Songs From The Seventies is distributed by Rhino entertainment, and for those who enjoy the music of the seventies, and especially Barry Manilow's songs and charismatic delivery, it is one you will want to add to your collection.