Terry Manning “Heaven Knows”
If Terry Manning’s name sounds familiar it may be that he’s been one of the the most respected engineers and producers in music history — Led Zeppelin III, the first two Big Star records, Al Green, ZZ Top, the Staple Singers, Albert King, Shakira, Lenny Kravitz, and hundreds more have had Manning involved in their work. After a quirky, trippy solo LP in 1970 Manning dedicated his life to the engineers sound board until his 2013 tribute to Bobby Fuller “West Texas Skyline” which was mostly covers. With “Heaven Knows” we get to hear more originals, and Manning has amazing talent as both a songwriter and instrumentalist.
The Beatlesque opener “It’s You (Beacon)” has a great catchy bridge with some wonderful Harrison-like guitar fuzz in the solo. The title track,“Heaven Knows” makes use of an smooth orchestral opening, and the vocal overdubbing emulates the harmonies of the late-era Beach Boys. The next several tracks gravitate to this style, the slow pacing and layered production make this a sweet single, and “Look at Me (Everything About You)” keeps thing moving along with its light joyful melody. “Things are Gonna Be Fine” is another romantic pop ballad with a bright sax solo. Appropriately, Terry gives us a reverent cover of Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows,” and another winner here is the fifties ballad “Oh My Love” which would easily fit on a Grease-themed soundtrack. A few more covers (Al Green, Otis Redding, and Jerry Lieber) till we get to the tropical “Life Is Good (‘Cause URU)” with its laid back calypso rhythm. Highly Recommended.
The Soulphonics “Heart Full of Soulphonics”
Led by guitarist-vocalist Glen Worley its straightforward pop-rock songs driven by jangling guitars set in the mid 1960’s style. Worley and his drummer Kevin “The Skindriver” Connolly are veteran musicians who’ve been playing together for over 25 years in a variety of musical styles and both played last years IPO in Austin.
The clean jangle of “A Million Times” makes a great start, with its crisp chorus and Byrdisan riffs. Glen’s vocals sound alot like Sal Valentino (The Beau Brummels,) on the mid tempo “The Letter Home.” Then we meet “Gwendolyn,” another early standout about a girl with “eyes of blue neon” and “Slipped” picks up the tempo. If there is a fault here, its that many songs tend to blend into each other and the hooks don’t always stick. Thankfully, the band goes off script with the rockabilly gem “Heartbreak In the First Degree,” and Worley really gets to show off his guitar licks. “Those Are The Breaks” is another driving Texas rhythm that encourages repeat listens. Fans of great jangle-pop shouldn’t miss this one.