In the liner notes for Swing Street
, Barry Manilow
refers to his wish to record a "techno-swing album." While that term conjures images of mechanistic swing sets, it must actually refer to Swing Street
's largely synthesized instrumentation. From the first few notes of its title track, the album seems like music made for an audience of mannequins. It certainly swings, especially on tracks like "Big Fun." But it does so in a cold, canned sort of way, suggesting jazz-pop if it was painstakingly recreated by futuristic robot musicologists. Manilow
himself fully indulges in the vocal style of the genre, emoting up a storm on "Stardust" and "Summertime," a duet with Diane Schurr
that also features the sax of Stan Getz
. The latter track is a standout; together with the wistful, piano-driven "Once You Were Mine," it's the most real thing on the album. The rest of Swing Street
can't outrun its digital composition, as illustrated by an unfortunate version of "Stompin' at the Savoy," which adds lyrics and sounds like Muzak on Mars.