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CD Review Noted producer sees long-lost solo album unearthed.

 

Terry Manning - Home Sweet Home

 

Sunbeam Records\par Best known for his production and engineering work with groups such as Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, George Thorogood, Molly Hatchet and others most forget Terry Manning was also a well-respected musician and sideman around Memphis for many years before making his name as a producer par excellence. Not that you'd know it from this album, however. Thrown together as a bit of a joke by Manning and some of his Memphis cronies, the album has a decidedly non-commercial air about it which, paradoxically, has led to it becoming a much sought-after holy grail of sorts for music aficianados.

Thanks to the folks at Sunbeam Records, one of the best reissue labels around specializing in late '60's early '70's vintage music, this album has finally been allowed to re-enter the marketplace. Those looking for transcendant rock music to blow their minds will not find much on this record, however. By making this album more of a lark than a serious statement, Manning ultimately shortchanged himself no matter what the interest is by seekers of rare discs. While Manning more than had the chops to come up with something infinitely more weighty and meaningful, the slapdash efforts to throw songs together smacks more of rushed desperation than anything else. Begun as the result of a studio prank on the vocal group the Box Tops by taking their song Choo Choo Train and altering the backing tracks to sound like a psychedelic freakout instead of the regular blue-eyed soul the band was known for, the president of Stax Records heard the resulting acid-trip version of the song and asked Manning to record a whole album in that style. Hence, this record filled with overdone (waaaay overdone) pastiches of soul, country, rock and rockabilly. Though seeling hardly any copies, the album eventually passed down through the hands of collectors and has become quite notable in reputation.

Though weird and eccentric, the album stands on its' own as an artistic statement and there are some interesting moments, but the feeling of the album being somewhat rushed permeates the tracks. That most of the songs were recorded at the end of other artist's sessions when there was spare studio time left over speaks a lot to how little priority was placed on this album. But, there is one cooler than cool artifact on this album that may blow your mind! This album featurtes a cover of a Beatles tune made before the actual Beatles tune was even released. It seemed that the Beatles had leaked some demos of their song The One after 909 before it was finished and the Manning version on this album contains a version of the song before the Beatles re-arranged the composition.\par Those interested in quirky rock music unashamed by lack of quality and purpose may find this record a lot of fun. Big Star collectors (it marks the first recorded appearance by guitarist/songwriter Chris Bell) and Beatles aficianados may appreciate its' weirdness as well. It's obvious Manning is a talented musician and maybe one day we'll see a solo album proper. Until then, do with this strange artifact what you will.

 

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