S.F. Seals

Nowhere

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Best known as a solo artist, singer/songwriter Barbara Manning has been a member of several groups over the years, the most promising of which were the San Francisco Seals (or SF Seals). Manning's mutual love of baseball and the Bay Area was reflected in the name, taken from the minor league Pacific Coast team that lasted until 1957 (and included Joe DiMaggio prior to his celebrated stint in the Yankees). Nowhere, spelled out on the recording as "Now Here," is the first of two full-length albums the SF Seals released before calling it quits a couple of years later. As with many of the projects with which Manning has been involved, it features a number of tasteful covers, most notably Badfinger's chiming "Baby Blue" and Faine Jade's Zombies-sounding "Don't Underestimate Me" (how's that for obscure?). The material all works quite well, with the exception of "Demons on the Corners," eight minutes of ambient noise that would have made more sense as a bonus or hidden track. It threatens to derail the entire mostly pop-oriented enterprise, but is followed by the brassy "Missing," which ends the set on a strong note -- almost as strong as the exuberant "Back Again" which opens it.

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