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Super Scissors

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Album Review

Almost 20 years down the road, Barbara Manning's first two albums are still, if not her best, her most treasured. Long since out of print, it would have been enough to simply have this material available again, but Rainfall Records has done even better. Not only have they released the albums in their entirety, remastered from the original reel to reel tapes (never sounding better), but they've also included radio sessions, live tracks, home demos, a couple covers, and some outtakes from the albums as bonus material. The live material doesn't always have perfect sound, but it's nice to have some documentation of the time. The outtakes are a special treat, as they weren't necessarily left off because they're inferior; it was simply an aesthetic choice. The electric version of "Prophecy Written" or the extra verses on "Mark E. Smith & Brix" could have easily made the grade but were left off in favor of different versions. Songs like "Make It Go Away" and "My Name Is Not" aren't throwaways either. They just remained in the can until now. Of course, it's the original albums that will draw people to this collection. They've lost none of their charm in nearly two decades and have aged remarkably well. The discs themselves come in nice LP jacket reproductions and the booklet has liner notes from friend and compilation producer Pat Thomas and quotes or anecdotes from other musical luminaries like Steve Wynn and David Kilgour. Manning went on to bigger things, but she never sounded better than she does on this material. Limited to 1,000 copies, you better act quick if you want to hear why Manning became the indie darling she is today.


Born: San Diego, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

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...
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