Barbara Manning Sings With the Original Artists is a somewhat slight but wholly enjoyable release from a short-lived "supergroup" consisting of vocalist Barbara Manning and members of Young Marble Giants (Stuart Moxham), the Mekons (Jon Langford), and others. The music has more of a retro/lounge feel than the folk-tinged pop with which Manning is usually associated. Further, she is only credited with one song ("Optimism Is Its Own Reward"), while Moxham and Langford penned the rest of the originals. "Cry Me a River" is a faithful, non-ironic cover of the Julie London classic (much like Grenadine's "I Only Have Eyes for You"), while "Martian Man" is a lovely Lora Logic (X-Ray Spex, Essential Logic) cover embellished with brass and sitar. As a whole, the recording evokes the same sort of insouciant ambience fellow lounge lizards Grenadine, Combustible Edison, and Friends of Dean Martinez were making around the same time (the mid-'90s). Similarly, the approach is more sincere than campy. Moxham's garage-y "Daddy Bully" breaks the mold -- but not the mood -- to some extent by taking as its inspiration Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs' '60s nugget "Wooly Bully."
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AllMusic Review by Kathleen C. Fennessy