The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Friday, December 07, 2007

Manuel & The Music of the Mountains

12-7-07 Manuel & The Music Of The Mountains

(re-run from Aug. ’02)


1968 12 TRKS stereo (pictured)

Aah, Studio Two! This posh EMI UK easy listening label is ‘highly collectible’ (to quote the British “Record Collector” magazine) in it’s own right, at very least amongst it’s hardcore “EZ” fetishists. Pretty much everything on Studio Two sounds amazing (if you can find clean copies), and the covers, although somewhat ‘generic’, are usually wonderful and sometimes kitschy.

The whole label is British orchestras / studio musicians, to be sure. But who is/was Manuel?

It is open to conjecture, but it is suspected to be none other than British easy listening maven Geoff Love (1917 – 1991), under an assumed ‘exotic’ name. And what about those mountains? I don’t remember if the Manuel records are pan flute-heavy or not, but that may help explain it. And just who is / was Pepe Jaramillo? A funny name cooked up by EMI in the 1960’s to appear exotic to British record buyers?

The miracle of ‘Manuel’ apparently began in the mid-1960’s, according to the discographies I can (used to be able to) uncover. A very groovy Studio Two discography with only title / number info used to be found on-line…but it was gone when I just checked it again (Dec. ’07)

I pick up UK Studio Two stuff whenever I can find it. To say the least, there aren’t many Studio Two LP’s lying around California’s used record stores, and I haven’t been to England lately. I think the first Studio Two LP’s I ever picked up were in New Zealand, back in the 80’s, and I probably bought those for the covers! (Probably, my first one was TWO 175 “Time For TV” by Brian Fahey – it has a color photo of “The Avengers”, Steed & Peel, on the cover).

Oddly enough, when looking for Studio Two LP’s on eBay, they’re a bit on the pricey side. So, if you’re curious, and you live in Great Britain or New Zealand, try car boot sales or op shops. For American inquiring minds, Studio Two LP’s are usually in the easy listening LP section at your local used record store or thrift store – the covers are shiny and the 1960’s ones have flaps on the back. The 1970’s ones sometimes have a lot of bad synthesizer on ‘em.

2007 addendum: There are some nice CD’s of Studio Two material found in “The Sound Gallery” (2 volumes) (EMI UK, ‘95/’96). I still keep my eyes peeled for these UK EZ vinyl gems. Not many turn up these days.


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