Melissa Manchester’s Live ’77 is the renowned singer-songwriter’s first and only live album, recorded by Arista Records in October 1977 at Gainesville, Florida’s Great Southern Music Hall but unreleased until now!

Forty-five years ago, it just wasn’t in the cards for Melissa Manchester’s live album to be released. Recorded over two shows at Gainesville, Florida’s Great Southern Music Hall in September of 1977, the album was to showcase Manchester’s talents during a year that saw her headline, Carnegie Hall, join Leo Sayer for a summer tour, and make TV appearances. She had also released her fourth album for Arista Records (and sixth overall), Singin’. However, her friend Barry Manilow had major success with his own live album that year, and there was a concern of being seen as a “female Barry Manilow.” And with 1978’s Billboard Top 10 single “Don’t Cry Out Loud” not being part of the live set, followed by ’79’s Academy Award-nominated “Through the Eyes of Love (Theme from ‘Ice Castles’),” the likelihood of the live album being released further receded.

The two-CD Live ’77 naturally sounds dated at times in its presentation, but that’s part of its charm. Manchester, performing at the peak of her powers with a full band, sings her heart out throughout, and she works her audiences like they would be her last. Along with her 1975 Top 10 hit “Midnight Blue,” Manchester rolls through new material (the to-be-released “Caravan”), an a cappella “Be Happy Now,” the disco-y “Party Music,” ballads including “Good News,” a take on the Michael Jackson hit “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” and much more, most of which were written or co-written by Manchester.

Melissa Manchester’s Live ’77 (Second Disc Records/Real Gone Music RGM-1361, 2022) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / Real Gone Music)

author: Hays Davis
author rating: 6.5/10