I liked some of her music in the past but this cd was terrible. Even a well known song started sounding good but then was butchered. Avoid this CD!
Still my favorite songbird after twenty-five years
Thomas Lapins | Orlando, Florida USA | 04/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Only one other CD retrospect release did I anticipate with such hope that my favorite songs would be included. I was standing at the music store's door to find the answer to that question the day "The Essence of Melissa Manchester" was released. I was so completely disappointed by what had been left out. As other reviews have stated, songs like "Better Days"; "Happy Endings"; "Help Is On The Way"; "I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore"; "Pretty Girls" and "For The Working Girl" have all been excluded. As any MM lover would know, these are all foundation songs to her career. Plus they deserve to be on compact disc. However, how wonderful to have nineteen songs on disc, after all these years of waiting. MM's first two albums were still a bit of a mystery to me. The albums were scratchy sounding, so I hadn't listened to them as I would have liked to. The inclusion of "Home To Myself"; "Easy"; "Alone" and "Bright Eyes" make the CD worth the money. These early MM songs are her most intropsective and soulful. Her yearnings and conflicts are universal, and sung by a songbird. The next two albums "Melissa" and "Better Days & Happy Endings" are the two that hooked me on her soulful and silken voice and lyrics. "Essence" includes five songs from these two albums. However, these two albums verged on being greatest hit collections in themselves. MM and Carole Bayer Sager consummated the most serious female collaboration on these two albums. "Better Days & Happy Endings" is the 70's successor to "Tapestry", hence three songs were included. But the whole album needs to be on disc. "Essence" continues with some of the usual standards, most of which had been on an earlier greatest hits collection. So I already had them and had wished for some other material. The poignant and original version of "Come In From The Rain" was included instead of the more popular version from the album "Ricky". That was a step in the right direction. All her music deserves to be on disc. Many are available as a Japanese import, but very difficult to find. I have collected all of them and I'm happy to say they are all of the highest quality, with almost all of MM's songs of significance on them. There is even a "Best Of" collection which I prefer to this collection. Kind of ironic that this American artist is so much more appreciated in Japan. I suggest any MM lover purchase this collection and keep searching the internet for the imports. Very much worth the effort."
Brilliant songwriter, singer and pianist
Charles_Donovan@ipc.co.uk | London, UK | 12/16/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was looking around for something new, wondering if there were any songwriters I didn't know who were as good as Carole King. Melissa Manchester is the one - I can't get over how good this collection is. Nearly all the material is self-written (and the few songs that aren't are tellingly inferior), and peerlessly beautiful. She covers a variety of styles - piano balladry not unlike Carole King (Just You and I), gospel (O Heaven), pop (You Should Hear How She Talks About You), soul (Lovers After All) and the lyrics (some supplied by Carole Bayer Sager, some Melissa Manchester herself) are uniformly heart-felt, direct, touching and honest. And all of this before you even consider her fantastic voice, which knocks all the competition into a cocked hat. I'd be surprised if anyone was disappointed with this fantastic CD. I was enchanted from the first listen. By the third , I couldn't understand why any of her individual albums were out of print."
Let's Start a Petition
Les McRae | Washington, DC | 04/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with other reviewers! I also long for the first four albums on CD. I appreciate the ESSENCE albumn but question some of the inclusions. Her earlier muscial gems contained some of the best jazz vocals I have ever had the pleasure to not only hear but feel. The first time I heard LET IT RIDE on FM Radio I had to pull my VW over and write down the name of the artist/goddess/diva. I knew then and there that she was destined for great things and possessed unparreleled musical talent. She still remains an under rated writer, composer and vocal stylist. I think we should start a petition to get her orginals reprinted on CD....."
Impressive body of work from underappreciated genius
Les McRae | 10/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"She's been called the female Stevie Wonder because of the ecletcic song/masterpieces she creates that defy categorization and because of her amazing, compelling vocal performances, ranging from R&B to gospel to standards to jazz. If she were a male or if she were black woman, she would get much more respect. Thank you, Melissa, for your musical integrity."
Great Songs And More!
Les McRae | 06/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Melissa Manchester is and always will be the one voice I like to listen to when I need cheering up. I like to refer to her as the "female Barry Manilow" and I mean it in a positive way! Like Manilow, she recorded for Arista for many years. Like Manilow, her style of music is very similar whether you want to label this music as MOR, adult contemporary, and/or easy listening. Like Manilow, she has LOTS of memorable songs! I have lots of respect of similar female artists who I enjoy listening to also (Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, Karen Carpenter, and Carole King), but in my opinion Melissa is the BEST! Listening to this CD will let you know why!Before this collection was available, her "greatest hits" album from 1983 was the best compilation you can find. Thankfully, The Essence Of Melissa Manchester is a better collection! Nineteen wonderful tracks dating from her start in 1973 when her focus was on jazz-flavored songs. All her Top 40 hits are included except for the #39 hit "Pretty Girls" from 1979. The packaging is superb: liner notes to highlight her music career along with comments on each individual songs. There are plenty of pictures with song credits. As a bonus, both Barry Manilow and Carole Bayer Sager have their own personal comments about Melissa. That alone was worth the price of this CD! Finally, this collection works for both the casual fan (who will get her hits and full-portrait of Melissa) and for the Melissa fan (who would appreciate her best work on one CD)."