Duets is a canny compilation of duets Barry Manilow has recorded over his years at Arista. These 15 tracks span from 1980's Barry to 2008's Greatest Songs of the Eighties, so this isn't quite prime Manilow; in other words, there are no big hits but there are plenty of big names, including Bette Midler, Reba McEntire, Dionne Warwick, Sarah Vaughan, and Barbra Streisand, a cast of characters which also suggests the range of the tunes here. Barry does hold his own singing a torch song with Torm‚, trading lines with Barbra, and proves a good foil for Vaughan, and he's also quite comfortable using the Association as his support on a medley of their hits "Cherish" and "Windy." It should come as no great surprise that most of this is straight down the middle of the road, because that is where Barry is at his strongest, so that makes the inclusion of the wild Kid Creole & the Coconuts duet "Hey Mambo" most welcome: it shows that when he wants to, Manilow can have some knowing fun with his Copacabana persona. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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