Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Manual Scan - Plan Of Action

A1. Nothing You Can Do

A2. American Way

A3. New Difference

B1. Anymore

B2. Jungle Beat

Plan Of Action EP
Dance And Stance (DS-101), 1983

In 1977, a group of music minded kids at La Jolla High School that were influenced by AM pop radio started meeting in the music hall to play together. Out of this assembly came a band called Starjammer (an X-Men reference), which featured a 14-year old female drummer named Terry Moore, guitarists Bart Mendoza and Kevin Donaker-Ring, and a bass player named David Gardner.

The band started off playing house parties and had to cater to the demands of the crowds, primarily doing cover music by bands like the Kinks, Yardbirds, Beatles, Zombies, and Paul Revere, as well as Motown and R&B standards. They later added a couple members, Yvonne Simon on vocals and guitar, and Larry Sherman on keyboards. When their drummer Terry wasn't able to play a lunchtime "gig" in their school's music room, Paul Brewin stepped in as her replacement. It was around that time in late 1979 that they changed their name to the Pedestrians.

The Pedestrians played together for about a year and were very active. But Larry left the group after they recorded some home demos and by early 1981 the band had parted ways. Shortly thereafter, Bart and Kevin formed a new group with a drummer named Paul Kaufman, and then a bassist named David Fleminger came on board soon after that. They met David, who went to a rival high school, a few months earlier at a Pedestrians show. Yvonne completed the line-up.

They called the new group Manual Scan, which was chosen after opening a Radio Shack catalog and dropping a finger on a police scanner that had automatic or manual scan. They naturally levitated to a mod sound, having already acquired the look by wearing sharp suits and boots inspired by their heroes, the Zombies, and of course the Beatles. They were also fixated with scooters and mod culture.

Bart become the primary songwriter of the band, though the other members made contributions as well. They started playing the club circuit in San Diego and the LA/Hollywood area. They also received steady work doing school functions and teen dances. The band recorded some rough demos before hooking up with Peter English, who owned Kings Road Cafe, a club that proved to be a big game changer in the San Diego music scene. Peter became the band's manager and funded the recording and release of the first Manual Scan EP.

They went to Circle Sound Studios in the fall of 1982. By this time Yvonne had left the group and Paul Brewin was back on drums. Since the songs all clocked in at two minutes or less, they opted to make an EP rather than a single. Though the record was named Plan Of Action, they couldn't get a good recording of the title track. Instead they laid down a tune that Bart had written the night before called "Nothing You Can Do." The session was done in a single evening and they were thrilled to have it produced by one of their biggest influences, Scott Harrington, of legendary San Diego group The Penetrators.

1,000 copies of the 7" were pressed in early 1983 with a Lichtenstein-esque pop art cover. It was put out on Peter's Dance And Stance label, becoming the sole release under that imprint. Peter lined up distribution with Faulty Products, an offshoot of IRS, and the records moved quickly. The band recorded a video for each of the five songs from the EP on a local cable access TV show. They received very positive press from local papers and even Trouser Press.

By 1984 the band was traveling a lot more and became regulars in the Bay area. As time progressed, they improved as musicians, got better equipment, and their sound evolved as their influences expanded. They incurred more line-up changes over the years. Further releases would come out including an LP in 1985 on the Hi-lo label out of the UK, as well as 7"s on Get Hip and Susstones. They were approached by several major labels including Enigma, IRS and RCA, but most of them either wanted certain members to leave the band or song lyrics to be changed, so ultimately they favored to stick with independent labels.

In 1989, the song "Nothing Can Be Everything" was included in a movie called A Girl To Kill For and was actually played in its entirety. By 1991, the music scene had changed. People weren't going out to shows like they used to. The goal of the band had always been to have a good time, but after 10 years they felt they'd done all they could do and simply split up.

Bart ended up joining a group called the Shambles and has been playing with them for the past 20 years. You could keep up with them here.

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