Posted September 10, 2006 by Mike Mineo in Features

Roger Joseph Manning Jr. goes solo


After over twenty years working with dozens of successful bands such as Jellyfish to Beck, Roger Joseph Manning Jr. is finally releasing his first solo album. Manning made his first mark with Jellyfish in the early 90s, who were an overlooked band with two great albums and a succession of singles. I posted about them here with a few mp3s. Being a talented multi-instrumentalist, Manning always had a project to contribute to. After Jellyfish’s disbandment in 1994, Manning was at the forefront of the synth-based Moog Cookbook, Imperial Drag (with half the members from Jellyfish), and the Devo-inspired TV Eyes collaboration with Brian Reitzell (of Redd Kross). All three were respectable, but Jellyfish still saw the most success. In December of 1997, Beck was in need of a keyboardist, which led to him requesting Roger Joseph Manning Jr. Manning was thrilled and learned thirty-three Beck songs in three days before flying to Australia to tour with the band for four weeks. This led to him working with Beck for another five years, recording three albums and going on several world tours. During the time, he and Brian Reitzell also toured with Air for a bit. After many exciting and influential years, Manning left Beck in 2002 to finally pursue his solo career.


His first solo album, The Land Of Pure Imagination (Solid State Warrior in the UK), lives up to my expectations as Manning busts out eleven songs of purely enjoyable pop. ‘What You Don’t Know About The Girl’ is the highlight for me, showcasing Manning’s always keen talent for natural melody and flow. Many of the songs center around Manning’s keyboard skills, such as the bleak but upbeat ‘Too Late For Us Now’. ‘The Loser’ reminds me most of his Jellyfish days, with slick lyrics and an infectious chorus. Any fans that are fans of anything Manning has contributed to, along with fans of catchy pop in general, should definitely check it out. From Manning’s collaborators, I also included several cheap but fun synth covers of some well known songs by Moog Cookbook, along with a few of my favorite songs from Beck and Air, which features a fantastic saxophone.


Roger Joseph Manning Jr. – What You Don’t Know About The Girl



Roger Joseph Manning Jr. – Too Late For Us Now



Roger Joseph Manning Jr. – The Loser



Moog Cookbook – Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie cover)



Moog Cookbook – Buddy Holly (Weezer cover)



Moog Cookbook – Hotel California (Eagles cover)



Beck – Broken Drum



Air – Playground Love



Official Web Site


Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].