“Manning is one of the most respected engineers and producers in music history — Led Zeppelin III, the first two Big Star records, Al Green, ZZ Top, the Staple Singers, Albert King, Shakira, Lenny Kravitz, and literally over 100 others have benefitted from his work in either or both capacities.”
—Tom Jurek, All Music Guide
In addition to owning and running the world-famous Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas, Terry Manning’s career has spanned decades where he has consistently partnered with the uppermost echelon of the music world’s elite. Now, Manning steps forward as a recording artist himself, in walking to the other side of the glass for his new album, Heaven Knows.
“I got into music initially as an artist, and to be an artist,” says a smiling Manning. “I just got diverted somewhere along the way in making the records for, you know, like a hundred other artists.”
The near-legendary status and cult-success of Manning’s first record as a recording artist in 1970, Home Sweet Home, left Manning with an even deeper desire over the years to return to his early artist-roots. “Through the years there’s always been this nagging inner voice asking: ‘When are you going to get back to doing your own songs, and making your own recordings?’ This new record is me answering that inner voice as genuinely as I can, and with all my heart.”
Manning’s recent road back to being the artist he started out as began in 2013, with his critically acclaimed tribute album to mentor Bobby Fuller, West Texas Skyline. Of the album, All Music Guide writes, “Without sounding like a revivalist, Manning digs deep . . . West Texas Skyline is not only one man’s tribute to a criminally underrated artist, but a heartfelt articulation of rock & roll’s roots.”
Many of those roots come into play in strong fashion on this new record as well—the echoes and influences of The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Big Star, Al Green, and Otis Redding—each and all readily recognizable throughout the nine originals and four re-imagined classics on Heaven Knows.
“Going in to create my own music and sing my own songs for the first time in such a long time, I was pretty emotional about it. I wanted to explore the human soul, and delve into the depths.” Manning adds, “People have such a deep felt need for loving and being loved, and more than anything I wanted to try to capture that overarching human emotion in these songs and with this album.”
Manning’s emotional connection and inspirational commitment to the album is matched by a commitment of perspiration as well: in addition to producing, engineering, mixing, and mastering Heaven Knows, Manning also played most of the instruments and sang all the vocals on the new record. “These are the kinds of things I do on so many of the records I work on, it felt right to do the same for a record of my own.”
The powerful statement this new album makes—both through the songs, and by the artist who’s performing them—does answer that inner voice from long ago, and it does so once and for all: Terry Manning is an artist to be reckoned with no matter which side of the glass he’s standing on, and Heaven Knows proves it.
“Heaven Knows showcases Terry Manning’s talent . . . [an] amazing album.”
—EyesIn Magazine »
“Manning has amazing talent as both a songwriter and instrumentalist. Highly Recommended.”
—Aaron Kupferberg, PowerPopaholic »
“It’s been a long road for producer, engineer, and musician Terry Manning, who cut his rock & roll teeth with the Wild Ones back in El Paso in 1963. His family moved to Memphis shortly thereafter and he began working at Stax and Ardent studios as a teen. Manning is one of the most respected engineers and producers in music history — Led Zeppelin III, the first two Big Star records, Al Green, ZZ Top, the Staple Singers, Albert King, Shakira, Lenny Kravitz, and literally over 100 others have benefitted from his work in either or both capacities. Though he’s worked at Compass Point in Nassau since 1992, Manning has never forgotten that fellow El Paso native, Bobby Fuller, was his initial inspiration and provided him with early guidance. On West Texas Skyline: A Tribute to Bobby Fuller, Manning delivers a 12-song set of tunes associated with Fuller and his biggest influence, Buddy Holly (also from West Texas), as well as a pair of excellent originals. Without sounding like a revivalist, Manning digs deep for the trebley, crackling spark that captures the twang of the Telecaster and the crisp snare snap that captures Fuller’s spirit. Holly’s ‘Love’s Made a Fool of You’ opens careening and swerving all the way. Fuller’s hiccuping ‘You’re in Love’ crosses the seams between country, R&B, and rockabilly, while his ‘Guess We’ll Fall in Love,’ weds El Paso rock & roll to ‘The Twist.’ ‘Let Her Dance’ shimmies and shakes as razor-sharp guitars and electric piano fill in behind the melody. Fuller’s biggest hit ‘I Fought the Law’ — written by Sonny Curtis — is done here with a 21st century fire and zeal. The production contains an organ, handclaps, spiky guitars, and a popping drum kit that walks the line between garage rock and rockabilly. Manning’s songs include the rocking but melancholy title track, which in its tragic, romantic spirit recalls Dave Alvin’s and Peter Case’s ‘Haley’s Comet.’ The soul-drenched ‘Cold Night in Heaven’ reflects how deeply influential Texas and Memphis R&B have been on the songwriter. Two excellent Fuller ballads close it out, the passionate ‘New Shade of Blue’ and the tender, dreamy ‘Gently My Love’ (the latter owes a debt to another Texas musician, Roy Orbison). West Texas Skyline is not only one man’s tribute to a criminally underrated artist, but a heartfelt articulation of rock & roll’s roots.”
—Tom Jurek, All Music Guide