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If I Should Love Again

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Album Review

By 1981, when he released If I Should Love Again, his eighth studio album of new material, Barry Manilow had settled into the second echelon of pop artists after his glory years of 1975-1979. Now, instead of releasing albums that regularly reached the Top Ten and went multi-platinum, he put out records that made the Top 20 and went gold. It still wasn't a bad way to make a living, but things were going south. Nevertheless, Manilow and Arista Records President Clive Davis held to formula — Davis found the singles, and Manilow wrote the album tracks to surround them. This time, Davis' choices included "The Old Songs," another ballad by David Pomeranz, who had given Manilow "Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again"; the Tom Snow/Cynthia Weil ballad "Somewhere Down the Road"; and, for a change of pace, a synth pop cover of the old Four Seasons' hit "Let's Hang On." All made the Top 40, and the first two topped the adult contemporary chart. For his part, Manilow seemed to be trying to write the kind of ballads Davis liked, including the title song, the plaintive "I Haven't Changed the Room," and "No Other Love," either of which might have been a single. He was also collaborating with Davis-approved lyricist John Bettis (best-known for Carpenters' hits like "Goodbye to Love" and "Yesterday Once More"). In the studio, he had banished co-producer Ron Dante and was working with a crew of Los Angeles session aces. The result was a ballad-heavy collection, which was fine. Manilow always sounded like he was gritting his teeth and just getting through the up-tempo material, anyway. (Certainly, that was true of this album's "Break Down the Door.") In his liner notes to the 1998 reissue (which contained the previously unavailable bonus track "Runnin' Too Hard," an agreeable mid-tempo pop/rock tune), he described the set as "one of the most romantic albums I ever made." That's true, and, probably as the result, it's also one of his best.


Born: 17 June 1943 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Pop

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

In terms of record sales and career longevity, Barry Manilow is one of the most successful adult contemporary singers ever. That success hasn't necessarily translated to respect (or even ironic hipster appreciation) in most quarters; instead, Manilow's music has been much maligned by critics and listeners alike, particularly the romantic ballads that defined his career, which were derided as maudlin schlock even during his heyday. It's true that Manilow's taste for swelling choruses and lush arrangements...
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If I Should Love Again, Barry Manilow
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