Barry Manilow

Greatest Hits

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Timing is a crucial issue in the release of a first "greatest-hits" anthology for an artist in mid-career, and Arista Records could not have improved on its decision to issue Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits in the fall of 1978. At the time, Manilow had enjoyed an unbroken string of 13 consecutive Top 30 hits, and the 14th, "Somewhere in the Night," was already in the pipeline. That was more than enough for the usual hits set, but Arista plumped for a double-LP set, including all 14 hit singles and adding another five album tracks. (With the advent of CDs, the label deleted one of those album tracks, "Jump Shot Boogie," and reissued Greatest Hits as a single 18-track, 69-minute CD, even though all 19 would have fit.) Most of the extras were uptempo numbers, making a welcome change of pace from the ballads that constituted most of Manilow's hits. One exception to this rule was "All the Time," a ballad that probably would have been a hit single if it could have been squeezed into Manilow's release schedule. Greatest Hits was perfectly timed because it caught Manilow at his popular peak; he would have more big hits, but not many, so that, for those who loved him, the essence of his repertoire was to be found here, from "Mandy" to "Copacabana" and all the AM favorites in between. For Manilow himself, this profit-taking product allowed him time to catch his breath. He hadn't had a new album since Even Now the previous winter, and he wouldn't have another one until One Voice, nearly a year in the future. (When it came, that LP would prove a mere million-seller after five consecutive multi-platinum albums.) Four years is a long time at the top of the heap in pop music, and Manilow's comprehensive Greatest Hits, covering 1974-1978, is an excellent time capsule of his most popular period.

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