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Roger Manning [SST]

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
During Roger Manning's initial swell of notoriety as the best-known figure on the New York "anti-folk" scene, I heard a fellow musician refer to him as "a Bob Dylan wannabe with a sideways haircut," and while that might not be entirely fair or accurate, it's not hard to see where someone might reach that conclusion. Like Dylan's first few albums, Roger Manning doesn't exactly display a wealth of melodic imagination, the songs tend to run into one another (insisting on calling all of them "blues" doesn't help to distinguish them, either), and Manning's songs sometimes betray a habit of favoring clever wordplay over substance. But also like Dylan, this album also makes it clear this guy has a lot of talent, and he sings an awful lot better than that guy from Minnesota did on his first LP; "The #14 Blues" shows that Manning knows how to rock out with just an acoustic guitar and a snare drum, "Pearly Blues" is a lovely romantic reverie that never gets sappy, and "The Lefty Rhetoric Blues," "Strange Little Blues," and "The Airport Blues" make it clear this guy knows how to put a lyric together. Roger Manning never became the hero of his generation, like one of his most obvious role models, but his debut album makes it clear he had a lot more going for him than the average run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi