Smudge - 1994 Manilow


ARTIST: Smudge
ALBUM: Manilow
LABEL: Half A Cow Records
SERIAL: D 31124
YEAR: 1994
CD REISSUE: 2006, Half A Cow, 26/116 (reissue)


LINEUP: Tom Morgan - guitar, vocals * Alison Galloway - drums, vocals * Adam Yee - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Manilow * 02 Ingrown * 03 Impractical Joke * 04 Superhero * 05 Funny You Should Mention That * 06 Bodyshirt * 07 Down About It * 08 Little Help * 09 Desmond * 10 Scary Cassettes * 11 Mr Coffee Man * 12 Pulp * 13 Dave The Talking Bear * 14 Ugly, Just Like Me * 15 Divan * 16 Not Here For A Haircut * 17 Don't Understand * 18 Hell On Hot Bread * 19 Top Bunkin' Duncan * 20 Charles In Charge * 21 Kelly From Cheers * 22 No Name


In the UK, Smudge are little more than cult figures.

They achieved cult status through mainman Tom Morgan's many collaborations with Evan Dando of the Lemonheads; to my mind the sound most people think of when they think of the Lemonheads owes more to Tom Morgan than to Dando.

'Manilow', Smudge's second full length release, I think, offers its listeners several slices of cool, alternative pop-rock. It's high energy songs have a summery feel with plenty of jangly guitars.

The Songs

The title track gets things underway and its a little misleading, as it owes a lot to early Dinosaur Jr and Husker Du, so it's not all that melodic.

Luckily, then, things settle down after this with 'Ingrown', a track with an intro which is similar to 'Rest Assured' from the Lemonheads 'Come On Feel..' CD.

'Superhero', a co-write with Evan Dando, could easily be a left-over from the writing sessions for that album.

Morgan is obviously proud of his contributions to 'Come on Feel The Lemonheads' as the classic 'Down About It' gets a Smudge re-recording here.

'Divan' (another song covered by Evan D & Co) also gets the re-recorded treatment. Smudge have recorded a few different versions of this one, but it still manages to sound fresh, no matter how many times I hear it.

Other high points from the album include the Juliana Hatfield worthy 'Desmond' with a breezy vocal by Alison, the fun 'Ugly Just Like Me' and my two personal faves, 'Dave The Talking Bear' - no, don't ask me what that's about, I've no idea - and the twenty-four second belter 'Funny You Should Say That'.

Added to this is the more throw-away 'filler' material, 'Charles In Charge' (a TV theme tune), 'Kelly' (Woody's song for his girlfriend in a old episode of 'Cheers', still makes me laugh) and the caffeine fuelled 'Mr Coffee Man' which has a length of three seconds!

In Summary

There are 22 tracks here altogether and most of them are under three minutes long, so it's great for those of you with short attention sp..

If this sounds like you cup o'tea, check it out, I guarantee you'll enjoy it. Copies of the CD should still be available. If you have trouble finding one, you should be able to get one direct from Half A Cow.

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