The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Search For Tomorrow

Hero time again. Roger Joseph Manning Jr.

He first blipped onto my pop music radar in the early 90’s. He was one of the two important ones in the sublime combo Jellyfish. A band that was possibly a little too clever, and certainly way too retro, to ever trouble the pop charts. The early 90’s being a bleak era, music-wise. Too much bad techno.

Jellyfish wanted to be The Beatles. And Queen. And The Beach Boys. And pretty much every other band from the 60’s and 70’s. All at once. Their greatest three and half minutes were ‘The Ghost At Number One’. Check out the video. Roger is the one who looks like Neil out of the Young Ones.

As is so often the case, just as I started getting into them, they decided to call it a day. They’d written a song for Ringo Starr, and after that, where else can you go? So Roger started up another band, Imperial Drag which very nearly had a hit with ‘Boy Or A Girl’ but didn’t.

Around the same time, Roger was – much more entertainingly – messing around with analogue synthesizers. The results being The Moog Cookbook’s two albums of contemporary and classic rock hits performed in the style of a late-60’s novelty moog record. They are sublime. The joke never wears thin.

Somehow this led him onto doing mind-bogglingly excellent remixes and collaborations with the Eels, Beck, AIR. He then decided to release a soundtrack album for an un-made sequel to Logan’s Run and form another band, TV Eyes, while doing the tunes for Lost In Translation.

And now, recently, he’s put out two-ish solo albums, The Land Of Pure Imagination and Catnip Dynamite. Which are, basically, I-can’t-believe-they’re-not-Jellyfish albums. I’d recommend them, but I like them being my special secret.

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