CD Review Reader Consensus - Performance 9 / Sound 8
Personnel includes: Melissa Manchester (vocals, piano); Leon Ware (arranger, background vocals); David T. Walker (electric guitar); Lee Ritenour, Dennis Budimer, Jay Graydon (guitar); Harry Bluestone (violin); Tom Saviano (alto & tenor saxophones); David Lewel (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Mike Carnahan (tenor saxophone); Chuck Findley, Steve Madao (trumpet); Slyde Hyde, Lew McCrewy (trombone); Richard Tee, Billy Payne (piano); Greg Phillinganes (electric piano); Sonny Burke, Michael Boddicker (synthesizer); David Hungate, Chuck Rainey (bass); James Gadson (drums, electronic drums, background vocals); Jim Keltner (drums); Lenny Castro (percussion);
Claudia Cagan (background vocals).
Producers: Leon Ware, Harry Maslin.
Reissue producers: Rob Santos, Paul Williams.
Engineers include: Milt Calise, Gary Starr, Steve Waldman.
Recorded in 1978. Originally released on Arista (4186). Includes liner notes by Michael Hill.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Melissa Manchester's seventh album, Don't Cry Out Loud, was preceded in the fall of 1978 by the single release of its title track, which went on to become a Top Ten hit, enabling the LP to become her highest and longest charting effort in several years. That's the way record company executives like things to work out, of course. But the success masked the essential differences between "Don't Cry Out Loud" the single and Don't Cry Out Loud the album. The song, written by Peter Allen and frequent Manchester collaborator Carole Bayer Sager, had been a minor R&B chart entry for the Moments in 1977 under the title "We Don't Cry Out Loud." Manchester's version, produced by Harry Maslin, used a tight band of top-flight Los Angeles session musicians -- Dennis Budimer and Lee Ritenour on guitars, Billy Payne on piano, David Hungate on bass, and Jim Keltner on drums. It was a moving, plaintive effort and a deserving hit. Don't Cry Out Loud the album was worthy, too, but it took a very different tack. Manchester collaborated with Motown-spawned writer/producer Leon Ware (Michael Jackson's "I Wanna Be Where You Are," Marvin Gaye's "I Want You") for this strictly New York session, which used another band of triple-scale session musicians including David T. Walker on guitar, Greg Phillinganes on electric piano, Richard Tee on acoustic piano, Chuck Rainey on bass, James Gadson on drums, and Lenny Castro on percussion. They produced a characteristically creamy jazz/pop sound, to which Ware added horn and string arrangements that made for a mild disco effect. He also brought in a minor Stevie Wonder song, "Bad Weather," which closed side one of the original LP. Otherwise, the songs were written or co-written by Manchester, with Ware joining in on "Almost Anything" and "Knowin' My Love's Alive." The R&B feel was less apparent on the second side (tracks six-ten), with Manchester even getting a solo piano performance on the ballad "Through the Eyes of Grace," a feeling examination of love and aging. The overall effect was a good mixture of artistic expression and commercial savvy, circa 1978, and although one might say the same thing of "Don't Cry Out Loud" the song, the single overshadowed the album to the extent that one of Manchester's better albums is rarely recognized as such. ~ William Ruhlmann