by Michael P. Coleman
The Manhattans came together in 1966, but it was a few years before they hit their stride, bridging the gap between The Temptations and Boyz II Men with pitch perfect harmonies and top-notch production. They also had a solid lead tenor in Gerald Alston, whose voice combined the best of The Tempts’ David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks. Alston could use his piercing, fluid tenor to sweetly testify about his love one minute, then turn on an “ain’t too proud to beg” growl the next.
Fans of classic R & B will be thrilled about British label Funky Town Grooves’ new rereleases of two exceptional albums by The Manhattans: 1976’s overlooked There‘s No Good In Goodbye and 1980’s classic After Midnight. As always, the label has done a fantastic job of remastering the albums, and including bonus cuts that will thrill both casual fans and collectors.
After Midnight leads off with one of the group’s biggest hits, the Grammy-winning “Shining Star”. Other highlights include “It’s Not The Same” (which features an opening refrain that’s reminiscent of Roberta Flack & Donnie Hathaway’s “The Closer I Get To You”); “The Closer You Are”, which was co-written by Alston; a killer medley of “If My Heart Could Speak” and “One Life To Live”; “Tired Of The Single Life”, featuring one of the group’s trademark spoken intros by the group’s baritone, Winfred “Blue” Lovett; and the lovely “I’ll Never Run Away From Love Again”.
The rerelease also includes seven more than serviceable bonus tracks, including single versions of “Shining Star” and another of The Manhattans’ classic hits, “I’ll Never Find Another (Find Another Like You).
How fans and radio program directors missed There‘s No Good In Goodbye is anybody’s guess. The title track is worth the price of the CD all by itself. Resist the urge to hit “repeat” on your CD player and treat yourself to other highlights like “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”, “Share My Life”, “Am I Losing You” & “Goodbye Is The Saddest Word” (with more of those killer spoken intros by “Blue” Lovett), and “Movin'”, which contains the same type of sweet melody, heartfelt lyric, and piercing lead vocal as “Shining Star”.
However, the absolute standouts of this exceptional album are “You’re My Life” and a cover of Billy Joel’s “Everybody Has A Dream.” The former’s just-this-side-of-Lionel-Richie lyrics should have made it a pop smash. The Joel cover features of gospel -inspired lead vocal from Alston – a side of him that we rarely heard on The Manhattans’ trademark romantic ballads.
There‘s No Good In Goodbye also offers a trio of rare surprises: promotional versions of album tracks “Don’t Say Goodbye”, “Here Comes The Hurt Again”, and “That’s Not Part Of The Show”, featuring new X-rated spoken word intros by “Blue” Lovett. According to the album’s liner notes, those x-rated tracks had a fairly limited audience upon their initial release.
“We did that as a promotional thing for the radio DJs,” Alston said. “I think it really worked, “Blue” recording those raps. It just came natural to him.”
Funky Town Grooves has other albums by The Manhattans, including the long out of print Black Tie, scheduled to be remastered and released in the next few months. If the next round is of the quality of After Midnight and There‘s No Good In Goodbye, we won’t be saying “goodbye” to The Manhattans – or Funky Town Grooves – for quite some time.
There‘s No Good In Goodbye and After Midnight are available now at funkytowngrooves.com. You can also pre-order The Manhattans‘ Black Tie and Forever By Your Side now.
Michael P. Coleman, a freelance writer based in Sacramento, California, doesn‘t want you to Kiss And Say Goodbye. Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP.
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