In an alternate timeline Jellyfish has been one of the biggest bands on the planet for the past 30 years, delivering some of the most creative, innovative and melodic music ever recorded and influencing generations of musicians & songwriters. Unfortunately in our timeline they only released two albums between 1990 & 1993 before the two co-founders (Andy Sturmer and Roger Joseph Manning Jr.) permanently went their separate ways. In that time, though, they did manage to create some amazing music which has influenced many artists who followed. They were the first band featured in my Two And Through post in 2014 and I’ve included my comments about their wonderful debut album, Bellybutton, below. This is not only one of my favorite debuts but an all-time classic album that still blows me away three decades after I first heard it. I hope they reunite one day, if only so people who missed them the first time can see Sturmer standing behind the drums at the front of the stage singing his heart out, and hear some incredible vocal harmonies (possibly the best I’ve ever heard). I saw them twice and both shows left lasting impressions on me.
From TWO AND THROUGH – My Favorite Two-Album Artists:
For a brief period in the early-‘90s, Jellyfish was on the verge of stardom with a decent amount of exposure on MTV and late-night talk shows, as well as an enthusiastic & quickly-growing fan base, but they never broke through to the mainstream and within a few years it was over. This incredible melodic rock/power pop group was the brainchild of former Beatnik Beatch members Andy Sturmer (lead vocals & drums) and Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (keyboards & vocals). Each of their two albums has a distinct sound, with debut Bellybutton (featuring the talents of lead guitarist Jason Falkner) more straight-forward power-pop, along with slabs of light psychedelia and kitschy ‘70s references like the homage to The Partridge Family theme song in “Baby’s Coming Back.” I was fortunate to see Jellyfish on both of their tours and each was as different (and impressive) as their respective albums. The fact that Sturmer sang & played drums standing up at the front of the stage made for a unique concert experience, and their vocal interplay was among the best I’ve ever heard. I could rattle off key song titles but they’re all essential. If you like instantly catchy melodies, inventive arrangements and tight harmonies, it doesn’t get much better than Jellyfish. Their influence has far outweighed their initial impact, with artists in many genres name-checking them over the last two decades. The fact that there’s a 4-CD box set devoted to them, as well as CDs of instrumental mixes and live performances, proves that this was no ordinary band.
I hope to hear from other long-time Jellyfish fans as well as anyone who’s hearing them for the first time.
Satur-debut will return in two weeks with an album that was released less than a year after this one.