Top notch jazz and pop vocal group. Consists of Alan Paul, Tim Hauser, Janis Siegel, and Cheryl Bentyne. They do many different types of jazz, but their best efforts are in the vocalese and bop styles. They also do some wonderful arrangements of old and new jazz, gospel and pop standards, and they are absolutely electrifying live.

Born 1969; a singing group with varied backgrounds: Tim Hauser, from R&B, Alan Paul, from Broadway, and both Laurel Massé (later replaced by Cheryl Bentyne) and Janis Siegel sang jingles. Their 70s cult following (as a 40s-revivalist group) led to a brief, cool, CBS variety show. Then they changed gears, doing stuff like Allen Toussaint covers, and having non-swing collaborators like Ringo Starr and Dr. John. Their 80s/90s incarnation is as a yuppified Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross.

The Manhattan Transfer has a very odd, nearly magical place in my development as an aficionado of quirky, weird, mind-expanding, or just plain fun music. Although far from a being a fan, (and in fact I find quite a lot of their newer stuff to be hideously unlistenable) The Manhattan Transfer's Extensions LP changed my life the day I found it in my dad's record collection.

The cover told me this was something quite cool, as it seemed very futuristic looking to my young, naive mind. I must have reported this fact to my father, because he instantly put it on his equally futuristic looking vertical turntable (which I now have in my possession), and cued up "Coo Coo U".

When the needle passed over the initial pseudo-percussive synth sounds, I was hooked. This was Kraftwerkian jazz pop bliss. (At the time, of course, my only description of it was 'cool' or maybe 'rad'.) I can remember dubbing it onto a cassette tape and listening to it repeatedly at such high volume (when my parents were away, of course) with a friend, that when we decided to go outside, we could still hear it repeating with crystal clear precision. It was truly one of those songs for me. Not too sure about my friend, as he later brought by Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55".

As for the song itself, imagine the cast as a singing robot (a la Mr. Roboto), a chick with perfect pitch singing in a well, a stoned Speedy Gonzalez, a Valley Girl and whatever the male equivalent of a Valley Girl is. If that alone isn't enough to intrigue you, check out the lyrics (How often do you get to hear psychoneurasthenic, anyway?):

Note: I've made artistic use of the pipe link within the lyrics. Consider it a journey into the center of Everything.


Coo Coo U

Written By: Bill Loughborough & David Wheat
Performed By: The Manhattan Transfer on Extentions (Atlantic, 1979)

Coo Coo U I think you're coo coo, coo coo u
How did you get so coo coo -- how did you?

They say it's a fact that your head is cracked
(I think that you are loco)
You have blown your stack you're a maniac
(I think that you are loco)
I just heard the news that you blew a fuse
(I think that you are loco)
You're a paranoid and your head's a void
(I think that you are loco)

(Look In The Mirror)
You are in a fog since you slipped a cog
(I think that you are loco)
They will set you free with lobotomy
(I think that you are loco)
Your cerebral vault has a single fault
(I think that you are loco)
It is quite well known you've become a clone
(I think that you are loco)

Coo Coo U I think you're coo coo, coo coo u
How did you get so coo coo -- how did you?

Whacked male says: What's on the news?
Whacked female says: Seen any good games shows lately?
Whacked male says: I like the news.
Whacked female says: I like game shows!

Psychoneurasthenic too much T.V.
How did you get so coo coo -- how did you?
(repeat until fade)

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