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Album Review

Fired by Columbia Records in 1973, Clive Davis took over tiny Bell Records in 1974 and turned it into Arista, determined to re-establish his record-selling credentials. One beneficiary of this was Melissa Manchester, who had made two good, but poor-selling albums for Bell. Davis turned on the money tap, and the result was this L.A.-recorded Vini Poncia/Richard Perry production that seemed determined to turn Manchester into a pop diva. She had demonstrated an eclecticism on her previous records, and she was run through a series of pop styles — disco on "Party Music," Philly soul on "Just Too Many People" (a Top 40 hit), Stevie Wonder on both "Stevie's Wonder" and Wonder's own "Love Havin' You Around." Returning to pop lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, Manchester reined in the tendency toward sensitive singer/songwriterism she had revealed on Bright Eyes, with the hoped-for commercial result. "Midnite Blue" may have been more obvious and generic a romantic ballad than the beautiful "Inclined" from the previous album, but it was also sexier and had a more pronounced hook and a sweeter production, which, along with Arista's promotional muscle, made it a Top Ten hit and Melissa a gold album. (Originally released as Arista 4031, Melissa was reissued as Arista 8055.)

Biography

Born: 15 February 1951 in New York, NY [The Bronx]

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

MOR singer/songwriter Melissa Manchester, whose father was a bassoonist for the New York Metropolitan Opera, began singing commercial jingles at age 15 and went on to become a staff writer for Chappell Music while attending the High School of Performing Arts. After taking a songwriting class at New York University taught by Paul Simon, Manchester took her talents to the Manhattan club scene, where she was discovered by Bette Midler and Barry Manilow; the two hired her as a backup singer in 1971....
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Melissa, Melissa Manchester
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