Monk Melts Down: Is There Room For Barry Manilow In The Record Cell?

Barry in his pomp

There are all sorts of anomalies out there that manifest to give me conundrums to chew on. For certain there are those examples of False New Wave [a.k.a. “faking it“] but for every ex-hippie trying to fit into the new breed’s coloration for commercial reasons, there are some genuinely interesting attempts for artists not normally found in my Record Cell to connect, however briefly, with my somewhat specialized zone of taste. We encourage all artists to give these impulses a try, because you never know what will result.

Sometimes when Rock Royalty tried on New Wave threads, we got triumphs like Alice Cooper’s “Clones [We’re All]!” Possibly more fascinating was a case where a very MOR singer like Helen Reddy took a stab at Synthpop without embarrassment. Well, was there ever a more middle-of-the-road singer than Barry Manilow? The one man foundational pillar of Arista Records…the house that Clive Davis built? I just found out today that Manilow had recorded a duet with Kid Creole + The Coconuts in 1988 for his “Swing Street” album!

needle rip
barry manilow + kid creole + the coconuts hey mambo
Arista | US Promo | CD-5 | 1988 | ASCD-9665

Barry Manilow + Kid Creole + The Coconuts: Hey Mambo – USP – CD-5 [1988]

  1. Hey Mambo (Album Version) 2:52
  2. Hey Mambo (Caliente Mix Single Edit) 3:36
  3. Hey Mambo (Caliente Mix) 5:05
  4. Hey Mambo (Loco Caliente Mix) 5:48
  5. Swing Street (Album Version) 3:33

Gloryoski, the duet was tapped to be a single so there’s a 12″ single out there with Barry Manilow extended remixes! And there’s even a holy US Promo CD-5 of the 12″ cuts; the apple of this Monk’s eye. I can also see that the Manilow collectors have got this release near the mid two-figure range and thus I’ll have to make do with the highly affordable 12″ of this single if I am going there.

And I should be going there? This was a case of Manilow working with a talent that I’ve never been disappointed by yet, with twelve releases in the Record Cell and room for everything else by my reckoning. Kid Creole never wastes my time. His line in flamboyant Tropicalia-slash-Disco-slash-Salsa mines a vital seam of Afro-Cuban influence in American music; served up with the utmost in wit and verve.

This 12″ single also features heavy hitters like Tito Puente on timbales. With Manilow’s budget, that was probably a pretty easy call! The track was co-produced by Emilio + The Jerks; a nom-du-disque of Emilio Estefan Jr. of Miami Sound Machine. The remix engineer was Steven Stanley of Tom Tom Club fame, and Tuta Aquino edited the mixes. I guarantee you have some records in your own Record Cells with Aquino’s name on it if you are reading this! That’s a lot of cooks, but how’s the broth? Well, let’s watch the music video and find out!

So this was definitely a case of Manilow meeting Kid Creole + The Coconuts more than half way on their own turf! I’m guessing that when this record dropped maybe August Darnell’s compadres in Was [Not Was] might have been green with envy that they didn’t get to Manilow first. So now I know the answer to the question…”is there room in my Record Cell for Barry Manilow?”

-30-

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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22 Responses to Monk Melts Down: Is There Room For Barry Manilow In The Record Cell?

  1. Taffy says:

    Never knew about this before, but it’s fun and way more Kid Creole than Manilow. I often love bizarro collaborations (like the KLF and Tammy Wynette, or Liza Minnelli singing with Queen at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert), if only to see whether it’s more triumph or train wreck. And your examination of rock and pop folks going new wave remains one of my favorite topics you’ve ever written about.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – Right? It’s a Kid Creole record with a Manilow duet vocal! And it sounded like Manilow was having fun… because Baz Just Wants To Have Fun. We need to revisit the Faking It Files some more as I suspect we’ve only scratched the surface. I’ll have to do a deep dive in Discogs one weekend when I don’t have anything [hah!] better to do.

      WaitaminuteLiza Minnelli sang along with Queen at the Freddie Mercury tribute Concert™??! [insert forefinger between slightly parted lips and move up and down rapidly while humming]

      Like

  2. jehanbosch says:

    Barry Manilow made a version of Duncan Browne’s “The Wild Places”. I think it was never officially released but I liked it. PS. I am already on your mailing list.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      jehanbosch – Manilow Does Browne? That’s kind of ironic. When watching the Clive Davis documentary “The Music Of My Life,” I actually felt sympathetic for Manilow in that Davis used to love to tell him what material to cover with Manilow balking at this since he was primarily a writer. The real pain for Manilow happened when all of the songs that Davis made him record became big hits, much to his chagrin. Though I suspect music butcher Davis of placing his thumb on the promotional scale to insure that his “gut instinct” song picks had all the help they needed. I sincerely doubt that Davis would have told Manilow to cover Duncan Browne material! Hence it’s non-release.

      Like

  3. Mel Creighton says:

    Wow! Have to give Kid Creole kudos for this collaboration. This made me think of Was Not Was doing a song with Frank Sinatra Jr. Strange bedfellows indeed.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Mel Creighton – I sure was a winning number, but in all candor, nothing tops “Wedding Vows In Vegas!!” Just a week or two ago I was compulsively singing the track since I can’t get to the Was [Not Was] CDs now with SY-Z all boxed up until I clear at least 1000 CDs from my Record Cell to make room on the rack space.

      Like

  4. Who are you*, and what have you done with the real Monk?

    *hoo hoo, hoo hoo!

    Just kidding of course, but this is certainly one of the most surprising entries in this legend of a blog! I concur with the regulars that this is a surprising team-up that works pretty well, but yeah — if you’d told me that the words “Barry Manilow” would someday turn up on these pages as anything other than an epithet, I’d have believed you ready for the funny farm!

    Like

  5. Tim says:

    I have a remix of a Manilow tune that is purported to be done by Trevor Horn.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – I saw that yesterday when trawling through Barry’s Discogs entries! That was from the 2007 CD “The Greatest Songs Of The 70s” as a bonus track. “Could It Be Magic [Trevor Horn Dance Mix].” As produced by Clive Davis, naturally. Was wondering if it was anything near full bore ZTT!

      Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Ronald van Veen – And one thing I forgot about in the heat of the moment yesterday was that the song was written by Manilow and three co-writers. Kid Creole and the Coconuts were invited guests on that track. It functions 100% as a Kid Creole track.

      Like

  6. Ade.W says:

    I can’t believe it, but I just bought this yesterday in a local charity shop !
    £1.00 sir , that’s £1.00.

    Like

  7. negative1ne says:

    Hi Mr. monk,

    what a strange release. but i was surprised when tom jones turned up with art of noise for kiss. another old timer artist coming back. uggh.

    tom jones also had a remix by trance artist bt for ‘she’s a lady’, and william shatner had one also : https://www.discogs.com/release/12349754-Tom-Jones-Shes-A-Lady-The-BT-Remix

    there are more mainstream releases out there, if you look hard enough.

    later
    -1

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – At the time I thought that The Art Of Noise/Tom Jones cover of “Kiss” was a hoot [I bought the UK CD-5] but over time I’ve given up on AON after their split from ZTT. Those just sound like novelty records to me now. I had no problem with Tom Jones singing. But Breakbeat Shatner…???!!!

      Larry Blackmon says “Ow!”

      Like

    • Tim says:

      I rather like quite a lot from a Tom Jones covers album that he did with all sorts of people. Divine Comedy is on there, Catatonia, Portishead, The Pretenders, the cover of Burning Down the House with the Cardigans is an absolute earworm.

      Like

      • postpunkmonk says:

        Tim – I grew up with Tom Jones and never really grew out of him.

        Like

        • Tim says:

          As you should.
          A week or two ago the YouTube algorithm thinger offered me a video of him and Corrine Drewery duetting.
          Just when you think you’d cornered every Swing Out Sister oddity out there.

          Sorry for derailing the thread, don’t mind some Barry Manilow and kinda tickled that this post has rocked the comment count.
          The Trevor Horn thing is real then? I always wondered if someone had misattributed it and now I know. If you know his work with Dollar, I’d say it’s sonically adjacent to that.

          Like

  8. Ade.W says:

    Bought yesterday, read this today. made me laugh.

    Like

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