Barbara Manning interview

PSF: Could you talk about how you started out with music?

I had a dream about Pete Townshend. He said 'pick up thy guitar and march up to the world.' That's the truth. I started out doing Bee Gee songs around '78/'79 when I was 13. My first band (28th Day) was in '83 and that was kind of a punk rock, new wave band but it turned into more of a psychedelic band. I mostly wrote songs about relationships but previous to that I did really stupid, hokey songs. (laughs)

PSF: What happened to the group?

We put out an album on Engima and broke up. I decided to get away from where I was living in North California. I came out to San Francisco, the dream city of America.

Interview by Jason Gross (Sept. 1997)



Lately I Keep Scissors LP (Heyday) 1988
"Don't Let It Bring You Down"/"Haze Is Free" 7" (Forced Exposure) 1990
One Perfect Green Blanket LP (Normal) 1992
One Perfect Green Blanket CD (incl. all Scisssors tracks) (Heyday) 1992
"B4 We Go Under"/"Love You 1000 Ways" 7" (Teenbeat) 1993
"Hummingbird"/"Slip Into the Ocean" 7" (Ball Peen) 1993
Sings With The Original Artists CD (w/ Stuart Moxham) (Feel Good All Over) 1995
1212 2xLP/CD (Matador) 1997
In New Zealand LP/CD (the Communion label) 1999

with the Go-Luckys

Homeless Is Where The Heart Is LP/CD (Naive) 1999

SF Seals

"Nowherica"/"Being Cheated" 7" (Sub Pop) 1993
Baseball Trilogy 7"/CD (Matador) 1993
Now Here LP/CD (Matador) 1994
"Still?"/"Don't Underestimate Me" 7" (Matador) 1994
Truth Walks in Sleepy Shadows LP/CD (Matador) 1995
"Ipecac"/"How Did You Know?" 7" (Matador) 1995

World of Pooh

Land of Thirst LP (Nuf Sed) 1989
"GHM"/"Someone Wants You Dead" 7" (K) 1990
A Trip to Your Tonsils 7" (Nufsed) 1993

28th Day

Barbara and the Go-Luckys s/t LP (Bring Out Your Dead/Enigma) 1985

Glands of External Secretion

Demonstrate Congo Bob's Epic Saliva Torture 7" (Starlight FC) 1992
February 2, 1992 7" (Majora) 1992
Northern Exposure Will Be Right Back LP/CD (Starlight FC) 1995
Who's Who in Hospitalization CD (w/ Prick Decay) (Starlight FC) 1997
s/t 2xCD (w/ The Double U) (VHF) 1997

Miscellaneous Appearances

"I Can Hear Music," "I Want to Be With You," "Acupuncture," and "Slow Down" on I Can Hear Music ltd. ed. bonus CD (w/ Dump) (Brinkman) 1994
"San Diego Zoo" on Wasp's Nest CD (w/ the 6ths) (London) 1995
Athens by Night CD (w/ JC Hopkins) (Shell) 1997
"Locked in Blue" on David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights CD (Flying Nun) 1998

Compilation Appearances

"Dead Sinner" on Restless Variations LP (w/ 28th Day) (Restless) 1985
"On The Wrong Side" and"Mr. Coffee-Nerves" on Insight 2xLP (w/ World of Pooh) (Wiring Dept.) 1987
"Someone Wants You Dead" on Bob #37 flexi (Bob Magazine) 1988
"Druscilla Penny" on Timeless Positive Infinity 7" (w/ World of Pooh) (Bananafish) 1989
"Don't Rewind" on The Acoustic Music Project CD (solo) (Alias) 1989
"Dominance and Submission" on Not All That Terrifies Harms 7" (w/ World of Pooh) (Nuf Sed/Ajax) 1992
"Joed Out" on No Alternative CD (w/ SF Seals) (Arista) 1993
"Strip Club" on Step, Step, Steppin' on Satan's Foot CD (w/ World of Pooh) (Bananafish) 1994
"Anniversary Song" on A Far Cry CD (w/ Behr, Fox & Manning) (C/Z) 1994
"Back Again" on Inside Dave's Garage Volume 5 7" (w/ SF Seals) (Radiopaque) 1994
"First Line (Seven the Row)" on Hausmusik Festplatte LP/CD (solo) (Hausmusik) 1996
"A Total Plate. . ." on Breaking the Plastic Hymen 4x7" (w/ Glands) (Fisheye) 1996
"George's Theme (quite chipper)" and "Isn't Lonely Lovely" on Fame Whore Soundtrack CD (solo) (New York City Records) 1996
"Joltin' Joe DiMaggio" on The Diamond Cuts, Volume 1 CD (w/ SF Seals) (Hungry for Music) 1997
"Dock Ellis" on The Diamond Cuts, Volume 2 CD (w/ SF Seals) (Hungry for Music) 1998
"Tunas Vs. Ponies" on Harmony of the Sponges CD (w/ Glands) (Gym Teacher) 1998
"Whatever I Do Is Right/Wrong" on God Save The Clean CD (w/ Calexico) (Flying Nun) 1998
"How Did You Know?" on A Day at the Beach CD (w/ SF Seals) (Koch) 1998
"H-A-T-R-E-D" on Kenui Myhouse CD (w/ Glands) (Hell's Half Halo) 1998
"Foghat" on 100 Locked Grooves LP (w/Glands) (RRRecords) 1998
"Supper's on the Phone" on MxVxSxEx 7" (w/ Glands) (Cock Displacement)
INFO FOR Access Diabetic Supplies

One perfect green blanket - album review

One perfect green blanket - album review

One Perfect Green Blanket represents an ideal introduction to the work of Barbara Manning, long one of the Bay Area's finest singer/songwriters. The set includes eight tracks, three of which were previously released on compilations and flexi-discs ("Smoking Her Wings," "Don't Rewind," and "Someone Wants You Dead,") plus an additional ten from Lately I Keep Scissors (1988). All of the songs were written or co-written by Manning with the exception of "Smoking Her Wings," a sublime, cello-laden version of New Zealand band the Bats' original (from The Law of Things). "Scissors," "Every Pretty Girl," and "Something You've Got (Isn't Good)" -- all from Lately I Keep Scissors -- are some of the finest, most infectious songs Manning has ever written.....MORE

One perfect green blanket - album

One perfect green blanket - album track
1 Straw Man (2:15)
2 Smoking Her Wings (3:56)
3 Don't Rewind (3:00)
4 Sympathy Wreath (2:47)
5 Green (3:07)
6 Lock Yer Room (Uptight) (2:27)
7 Someone Wants You Dead (4:11)
8 Sympathy Wreath (Demise) (3:37)
9 Scissors (3:21)
10 Breathe Lies (2:49)
11 Somewhere Soon (2:53)
12 Talk All Night (2:06)
13 Make It Go Away (4:40)
14 Never Park (4:33)
15 Every Pretty Girl (2:53)
16 Mark E. Smith & Brix (2:13)
17 Something You've Got (Isn't Good) (3:11)
18 Prophecy Written (3:27)

Barbara Manning. One perfect green blanket.

The idiosyncratic but rewarding Barbara Manning is a little too spiky and odd to fit comfortably in the Lilith Fair crowd, but her best work outshines those of her bigger-selling peers. Manning's artistic restlessness and her tendency to jump in and out of bands and recording situations makes it difficult to follow her career -- her discography must be one of the most confusing in all of the '90s indie scene -- but it also makes her one of the most vital and interesting singer/songwriters of her era.

Born in San Diego and raised in Northern California, Manning's first musical venture was 28th Day, a jangle band the singer/bassist formed with guitarist Cole Marquis and drummer Michael Cloward in 1984. The group's promising self-titled EP was released in 1985 and reissued twice thereafter, on an expanded CD in 1991 and an even more expanded cassette featuring live tracks and outtakes released on Cloward's own Devil in the Woods label. But although Marquis would remain an important musical ally for Manning -- who recorded several of his songs on her solo records -- 28th Day split up in 1986.

Starting the attention-deficit-disorder-like pattern that would remain her usual practice for the next several years, Manning's next move was to simultaneously join her friend Brandan Kearney's band World of Pooh and start her solo career. Manning's "Lately I Keep Scissors," possibly her best song, was both a highlight of World of Pooh's 1989 debut The Land of Thirst and the title-track to Manning's powerful solo debut, which had been released the year before. Though World of Pooh broke up in 1990, Manning continued with her solo career, releasing the lengthy EP One Perfect Green Blanket in 1991. That EP's title illustrates Manning's baseball obsession, which also fostered her next band, the SF Seals, whom she named after a defunct minor league team. The SF Seals, which also included drummer Melanie Clarin (ex-Cat Heads; she had also played on Manning's solo debut), guitarist Lincoln Allen, and secondary singer/songwriter Michelle Cernuto. The quartet debuted in 1993 with the brilliant EP The Baseball Trilogy, two old baseball-themed novelty songs, and Manning's own "Dock Ellis," a suitably psychedelic groover about the first man to pitch a no-hitter while tripping on acid. 1994's disjointed Nowhere was very much a group effort, but by the time of 1995's Truth Walks in Sleepy Shadows, the SF Seals were firmly under Manning's control; it's indistinguishable from her solo records.

Also in 1995, Manning sang a terrific song on Wasps Nests, the first album by Stephin Merritt's all-star side project the 6ths, and recorded a brief but powerful album, Barbara Manning Sings With the Original Artists, in collaboration with former Young Marble Giants leader Stuart Moxham that nicely slots Manning into the jazz-tinged minimalism of Moxham's own work. Finally, in this exceedingly productive year, Manning released Northern Exposure Will Be Right Back, an experimental tape loops and noise collaboration with zine publisher/performance artist Seymour Glass under the name Glands of External Secretion. (Manning and Glass had recorded a pair of singles under this name earlier in the decade; though two more Glands of External Secretion albums were released, Manning's role in them was sharply curtailed.)

1997's 1212, named after Manning's birth month and day, was originally planned as the third SF Seals album, but Manning decided early on to retire that conceit. Her strongest work since Lately I Keep Scissors, the album features "The Arsonist's Story," a complex, side-long suite that's one of Manning's most richly satisfying efforts. By contrast, the 1999 EP In New Zealand features Manning recording with a Who's Who of Kiwi musicians in a loose, live-sounding setting.

After a closet-cleaning set of singles and loose tracks, Under One Roof, Manning formed a new band, the punk-poppish Go-Luckys, and recorded 2000's Homeless Is Where the Heart Is and 2001's You Should Know by Now. ~ Stewart Mason, All Music Guide