Having indulged himself with a jazz album, 1984's 2:00 AM Paradise Café, Barry Manilow returned to being a contemporary pop artist with Manilow. The generic title, from an artist who had called an album Barry five years earlier, suggested the schematic nature of the project. Five producers in addition to Manilow himself were employed to come up with ten potential singles in a variety of styles. There were by-the-numbers Manilow ballads like "If You Were Here with Me Tonight," naturally. But Manilow led things off with the uptempo synth pop number "I'm Your Man," its romantic lyric interpretable as a re-introduction of the artist to his audience. More problematic in that regard was the ballad that followed, "It's All Behind Us Now," since, while the nominal message was that trouble for a couple had been passed, it also seemed an acknowledgement of Manilow's commercial decline. Elsewhere, "Some Sweet Day" had a light Latin flavor reminiscent of "Spanish Harlem" and "At the Dance" (produced by George Duke) a more overt one that echoed Lionel Richie's 1983 hit "All Night Long (All Night)." As with "I'm Your Man," other uptempo tracks such as "In Search of Love" used studios full of synthesizers and programmed drums to give Manilow a contemporary edge, but it was still the ballads that impressed, notably "He Doesn't Care (But I Do)," the one song (other than an unlikely cover of Ashford & Simpson's "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing") that Manilow didn't have a hand in writing. Those songs, of course, appealed to Manilow's aging audience, but not to the new ones he hoped to attract with the more trendy tracks, and for old fans, there weren't enough of them. So, Manilow's commercial decline continued. Manilow was his first album to miss the Top 40 and fail to earn a gold record certification.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: Muffy Hendrix