In the not-so-grand tradition of Paul Williams and Barry Manilow, song-writer-producer Rupert Holmes has abandoned the studio and is out on the road.

Holmes, who has produced and written for Barbra Streisand, made his Washington debut Saturday night at the Cellar Door. With a slick, five man, one-woman band in tow, Holmes offered a pleasnat, inoffensive set of his own composition.

While Holmes' music cannot be faulted technically, it is very much a former record producer's idea of what pop music ought to sound like.

He performed two of the songs as composed fro Streisland's remarks of "A Star Is Born," and that movie's musical difficulties refelct Holme's problems as a performer. All the elements are in place, but the spontaneity and freedom that make some pop music memorable are missing.

Holmes' one-night stand at the Callar Door was certainly one of the more polished sete that room has heard recently. With flugelhorn solos, woodwind cushions and myriad electronic sounds. Holmes, lavish production seems better suited to a concert hall - or a record studio. He is a man who obviously knows all the tricks. Were he to abandon the contrived lyrics and special musical effects, Holmes' next trip to Washington might be worth remembering.