Picks and Pans Review: Singin' with the Big Bands

updated 11/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Barry Manilow

Not to worry. On his 16th studio album, Manilow doesn't defile the pop hits of the '30s and '40s. He does a mostly light-handed, respectful job of interpreting 14 big-band tunes and adds two new ones of his own to the mix. He collaborates with the current bands of Les Brown, Jimmy Dorsey and Harry James, to name a few. He recaptures the romance and optimism of several classics, including a jumpy update of "Chattanooga Choo Choo," with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and "Moonlight Serenade." There are some duds too. On "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," Manilow's sluggish singing can't keep pace with the peppy Duke Ellington Orchestra. But overall, Manilow shows admirable restraint, forgetting his usual sledgehammer delivery. Confirming suspicions that he's a throwback to another era, the sultan of schmaltz adapts with ease to a genre that turned sentimental into a sacred word. (Arista)

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