Bootleg City: Jellyfish

According to an article I found on Magnet magazine’s website, Jellyfish’s lead singer, Andy Sturmer, wasn’t afraid to sting people. “I was told that Jellyfish would be an equal three-piece, with us writing and playing everything,” said the band’s original guitarist, Jason Falkner. “That turned out to be a total joke. I felt like I was duped.” And keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning Jr., whose 2006 song “You Were Right” will never leave your brain once you let it inside, had this to say: “Except for Andy, we all speak to one another. Some of us make music together. But nobody is interested in working with Andy in a personal or creative capacity. It would serve no purpose, but I don’t say that with any animosity or sadness.”

Yeah, but it’s still sad, because the band’s second and final album, 1993’s Spilt Milk (an appropriate title, it seems), left me wanting more. Then again, a smart band is supposed to leave its fans wanting more.

Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Andy Sturmer, Chris Manning, and Jason Falkner, circa 1990

After Jellyfish split up in ’94, Sturmer turned his attention to writing and producing, notably for the Japanese pop duo Puffy AmiYumi, whose 2006 song “Call Me What You Like” will also take up permanent residence in your brain unless you close the borders right this instant. He’s also the composer of theme songs for Cartoon Network shows like Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Teen Titans, and he performs the theme song for Transformers Animated.

The tracks below come from a bootleg called “Live Milk,” and the portion of the boot taken from Westwood One’s In Concert: New Rock program includes commercials at the end of each segment, including one narrated by Tom Selleck. TV theme songs … TV stars … see where I’m going with this? If you have a favorite theme song in your collection that isn’t already available on one of those “All-Time Best TV Theme Songs” CD collections, and you wouldn’t mind contributing it to a future edition of Bootleg City, please e-mail me an MP3 file. One reader has already sent me J.D. Souther’s first-season theme song for the late-’80s Richard Lewis-Jamie Lee Curtis sitcom Anything But Love, and I have Ariel Ryder and Narada Michael Walden’s “Gimme a Sign,” from the late-’90s Eric Close-Dennis Haysbert sci-fi romance Now and Again, to add to the pile. It doesn’t matter if your MP3 file was converted from a cassette you placed in your boombox and then directed toward your TV, which was my preferred method during adolescence — the bootleggier the better.

2 Meter Sessies, the Netherlands, 3/10/93
The Ghost at Number One

Triple J Radio, Australia, 9/21/93
I Can Hear the Grass Grow
The Ghost at Number One
That Is Why

The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, California, 4/4/93; broadcast on Westwood One’s In Concert: New Rock the week of 7/19/93
That Is Why/New Mistake/Joining a Fan Club
I Wanna Stay Home/The Ghost at Number One/The Man I Used to Be
Baby’s Coming Back/The King Is Half-Undressed/No Matter What




  • The Man I Used To Be

    Andy is the second from the left in the picture….

  • The Man I Used To Be

    and Roger is on the far left…..

  • http://mulberrypanda96.blogspot.com rwcass

    Thanks. I had a feeling I got it wrong. I keep looking and looking at pictures. Who's the second from the right?

  • http://www.ickmusic.com Michael

    The version of “New Mistake” from the King Biscuit Flower Hour is classic… thanks so much for sharing this… perfect top to a week of Jellyfish-related goodness!

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    Blast. I had a copy of the band covering “Go Your Own Way” somewhere, but it's been lost to the archive (seven tall CDR spindles of dubious titling)…

  • David_E

    Hmm. Not exactly obscure, but I do have the full (2:41) version of Lee Majors singing the “Fall Guy” theme song if you want it …

  • http://mulberrypanda96.blogspot.com rwcass

    It's obscure to me, and I'm the mayor of Bootleg City. Send it along, please. Thanks!

  • Old_Davy

    Thanks! This is why Popdose is the best site on the web. You guys are too cool!

  • The Man I Used To Be

    Just checked back in – 2nd from the right is Roger's brother, Chris.

    I just traded for a LP version of their first album which came in Monday. Thanks for providing the Friday bookend.

    Regards,
    Brendan

  • The Man I Used To Be

    BTW – This is a good read on the band: http://steveshark.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/jell

  • http://steveshark.wordpress.com/ SteveShark

    Many thanks – writing that piece was a true labour of love.

  • http://mulberrypanda96.blogspot.com rwcass

    Thanks! I added a caption to the picture.

  • The Man I Used To Be

    Nice work Steve, fine writing. Jellyfish is one of those little nuggets-of-a-band that not many people know about, but once you share it with them, they fall for them right away.

    You seem to be a fan – When you are introducing Jelly to someone, which song do you lead with? For me it depends on their musical taste. I tend to lead with New Mistake or Calling Sarah. You?

  • http://mulberrypanda96.blogspot.com rwcass

    Agreed — great job, Steve. And Brendan, I agree that “New Mistake” and “Calling Sarah” are great introductions to the band. Both are highly accessible pop songs. Sturmer may not have been a great collaborator, but it's hard to argue with the results.

  • http://imaynotalwaysloveyou.blogspot.com/ The Man I Used To Be

    Robert,

    You folks really have a wonderful music site here, keep up the good work. The content of Popdose is as refreshing as the writing is inspired. You can tell you guys truly love and feel the music, regardless of the genre.

    Thanks again,
    Brendan

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    I find “I Wanna Stay Home” is a big crowd-pleaser, so if I am inclined to a little salesmanship, that helps. Oddly, my brother who liked metal mostly at the time really liked “Brighter Day”, mostly for the line:

    'Cause right behind you in the back
    of the fray
    is a blade he's a renegade
    turning bullshit into marmalade

    He liked it not for the curse, but because it is an extremely descriptive turn of a really old phrase – you know exactly what was meant by that line. He didn't think pop-rock lyrics could actually carry across those ideas so well.

  • http://steveshark.wordpress.com/ SteveShark

    'Joining a Fan Club' everytime…
    It's almost a mini-opera with its various sections and changes of key.
    BTW – many thanks for clearing up some of my questions about the internal politics of the band. I suspected that Sturmer may have been a little 'difficult' to work with but couldn't find anything to support this theory.

  • http://mulberrypanda96.blogspot.com rwcass

    Well, after reading your article about the band, I'm curious — does Sturmer appear on albums with Manning and Falkner after 1993? Judging by the Magnet article, I would think he hadn't, but maybe the writer of that article decided to leave out that information to make it sound like Manning and Falkner were even more estranged from Sturmer.

  • Thierry

    Sturmer hasn't played or sung on anything Manning or Falkner have done post-Jellyfish. while Manning and Falkner – who were friends before their days in Jellyfish – have worked together on several occasions: both played on Beck's Sea Change as well as in the band T.V. Eyes, and Falkner appears on Manning's “soundtrack” for the non-existent Logan's Sanctuary.

  • http://imaynotalwaysloveyou.blogspot.com/ The Man I Used To Be

    Thierry is correct. Andy has been MIA from everyone in the band since Split Milk.

    He has produced for the before mentioned Puffy in Japan and has been doing solo TV Cartoon work. He showed up out of nowhere for the Merrymakers 1998 release, Bubblegun, which he played drums and wrote a couple of tracks.

    It's a serviceable, pedestrian album which is enhanced my Sturmers talents. But, in its whole, it offers a fraction of what Jelly displayed.

    As I wrote on the Jellyfish mailing list this evening:

    It is a shame that:

    1) Its been 15 years since we have heard anything of significance from Andy.
    2) I have one Andy song on my iPod (I Build Me A Bridge) from the last 15 plus years.
    3) He rather work with two bit players then the top shelf talent (Roger, Jason, Eric, Jon) that he had in his own band.

    To me it is pretty simple. Jason and Roger are not the issue. Thanks to them I have from Roger two great tunes (You Were Right, Down In Front), from Jason two great albums (Author Unknown and CYSF?) and one great side project (the Grays). From Andy I have a ton of fluff (or Puff if you will) and years of wasted talent.

    The jury of my minds eye says the case is closed.

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    Where does that song (“I Don't Believe You”) Manning and Sturmer did on the Ringo Starr album Time Takes Time fit in (as well as the other song where they provided backing vocals, “We Don't Know A Thing About Love”)?

  • http://mulberrypanda96.blogspot.com rwcass

    No love at all for Puffy AmiYumi?

  • MC_Snocap

    Hear hear.

    It's a shame Puffy gets dismissed as a novelty in the US (thanks, Cartoon Network!) There's genuine energy and affection for a wide range of American and Brit pop and rock in their catalog. Genre-hopping and unshakable foreign-ness probably relegate them to the “synthetic” table instead of the “traditionalist” table for the likes of, say, Amy Winehouse or whoever's biting Zep this year.

    I actually discovered Jellyfish through Puffy.

  • http://steveshark.wordpress.com/ SteveShark

    There's this stuff. How recent is it?

    http://popfair.blogspot.com/2008/07/andy-sturme

  • http://steveshark.wordpress.com/ SteveShark

    I love a lot of the Puffy stuff – it's lightweight, yes, but who wants serious all the time? Good pop music is a precious and rare commodity these days.

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  • Fuzz

    Error opening file. Very nice.

  • JohnHughes

    You're right, we should totally leave the files up for months and months, since the magic Bandwith Fairy has endowed us with unlimited resources.

  • http://www.popdose.com jefito

    TOTALLY. How dare we take anything down?

  • Fuzz

    Be that as it may, what is the purpose of dead links? Sorry I missed it. I didn't realize 46 days=months and months.

  • Fuzz

    Excuse me, the dead end is still UP↑

  • http://mulberrypanda96.blogspot.com rwcass

    Sorry, Fuzz, links only stay active for a week on average.

  • nickmarocco

    Can you plze upload these again? When i click on them to download them it says they are no longer available or if anyone has them plze email them 2 me @ nick_marocco

  • nickmarocco

    Can you plze upload these again? When i click on them to download them it says they are no longer available or if anyone has them plze email them 2 me @ nick_marocco

  • nickmarocco

    Can you plze upload these again? When i click on them to download them it says they are no longer available or if anyone has them plze email them 2 me @ nick_marocco

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  • Yarmouth

    Granted there was too much talent in one band. But, even if Sturmer was tyrannical, the 2 Jellyfish records are the best things either Manning or Falkner have done. The first Falkner record is fantastic as was Imperial Drag, but … anybody who saw Manning/Falkner open for Cheap Trick would immediately conclude that Sturmer was more than half the act. He writes better songs, has a killer voice, and is a drummer/lead singer/frontman, which is one of the things that people immediately found fascinating about the band! Egos f-ck up everything…if they reformed, released something new and toured there would be tremendous interest again…and it would be the best thing any of them have done in years.

  • Mike F

    Hi Bob. That’s Chris Manning, Roger’s brother who stepped in as bassist during the Bellybutton year. Another thing that intrigues me though is how someone of Sturmer’s popularity and success, in this day of the Internet and Social Media, can be so anonymous. You literally cannot find a single photo of him beyond the late nineties.

  • http://mulberrypanda96.blogspot.com rwcass

    Hi, Michael. I added a caption to the photo above a few years ago after I figured out who was who, but I guess I forgot to delete the comment you responded to.

    I’m surprised too that Sturmer has remained “off the grid” to such an extent, especially when considering how rabid Jellyfish fans are. But they’re respectfully rabid, I guess you could say, which is to their credit.