Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sand (1987, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

Sand is about as far removed from a typical guitar album as you can get, and yet it is a prime example of the far-reaching sonic capabilities that can be achieved with a guitar.

This is Allan Holdsworth's first fully instrumental solo album, and it is a flawless delight from beginning to end. It is one of those rare records that can be played continuously without end and without exhaustion.

As brought to vivid and visceral life by Holdsworth's celestial Synthaxe tones and sizzling six-string solos, the compositions are cinematic and compelling, with buoyant backup support provided by sound effects technician John England, keyboardist Alan Pasqua, bassists Jimmy Johnson and Biff Vincent, and drummers Gary Husband and Chad Wackerman. Wackerman especially kicks his powerhouse pounding into high gear on this outing.

After 30 years, Sand remains a timeless testament to Holdsworth's visionary genius and brilliance.

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Atavachron (1986, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

Although Atavachron isn't as perfect an album as its predecessor, Metal Fatigue, it's nearly as perfect, with Allan Holdsworth sounding the slickest he ever has up to this point.

Already a pioneer in the use of guitar synthesizers, Holdsworth adds the Synthaxe to his sonic palette. The Synthaxe is a cross between a guitar and a synthesizer, with Holdsworth adding a breath controller, enabling him to achieve crystalline tones never before possible with six strings.

The result is an album and title track that live up to their namesake, a time machine from the original Star Trek series episode "All Our Yesterdays," which is also the name of the one vocal track here, sung by Rowanne Mark. The cover illustration features Holdsworth, apparently an ardent Trekkie, in the atavachron, dressed in a Starfleet engineering/security red shirt and holding his Synthaxe.

Exploring strange new sounds and seeking out new music and new compositions, Allan Holdsworth boldly goes where no guitarist has gone before.

--Raj Manoharan

Friday, July 21, 2017

Metal Fatigue (1985, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

The guitar great finally catches up with the decade he was born for, with synthesizer sounds aplenty both played by keyboardist Alan Pasqua and triggered by Allan Holdsworth through his guitar controller.

The result is Holdsworth's first truly slick, high-tech, state-of-the-art album, providing a perfect sonic launch pad for his fretboard flights of fancy.

In addition to the instrumental tunes, the record also includes Holdsworth's best rock vocal tracks, with lead turns by singers Paul Williams and Paul Kordo. The songs would have been right at home on 1980s radio and MTV and still sound awesome today.

Together with bassists Jimmy Johnson and Gary Willis and drummers Chad Wackerman, Gary Husband, and Mac Hine, Holdsworth creates music unlike any other before or since.

--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Road Games (1983, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

Allan Holdsworth's second album is where the fretboard wizard truly found his voice and really took off.

His dynamic compositions and quickfire electric guitar leads soar, taking his music to sonic heights where very few, if any, could reach.

The guitarist, bassist Jeff Berlin and drummer Chad Wackerman (Frank Zappa, Andy Summers) flex their musical muscles on an eclectic mix of instrumentals and vocal tracks featuring singers Paul Williams and Cream legend Jack Bruce.

Highlights include "Three Sheets to the Wind," "Tokyo Dream" (the original rock version; a later, jazzier version appears on Holdsworth's 1992 release Wardenclyffe Tower), and "Was There?" (with vocals by Bruce).

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, July 8, 2017

I.O.U. (1982, 2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

Although Allan Holdsworth's compositions, arrangements, and musicianship get even better on later albums (an amazing feat in and of itself), this is a strong official solo debut by the electric guitar extraordinaire.

This remastered edition features Holdsworth's signature atmospheric instrumentals, as well as unique vocal songs performed by frequent Holdsworth collaborator Paul Williams (Holdsworth's fellow Englishman, not to be confused with the American singer-songwriter of the same name).

In addition to Holdsworth on guitar and violin, the tight band includes Paul Carmichael on bass and Gary Husband on drums and piano.

Holdsworth's virtuosic artistry and distinct fusion of jazz, rock, and new age, and the stellar performances of his solid rhythm section, make this album an appetite-whetting harbinger of greater things to come.

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! The Allan Holdsworth Album Collection (2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

I had forgotten what an amazing and awesome guitarist and composer Allan Holdsworth was. Thanks to the two-disc Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection and the 12-disc box set, both released just a week before Holdsworth's untimely and unfortunate passing at the age of 70, I have realized the error of my ways and been set back upon the correct path.

In addition to most of the 28 tracks personally selected by Holdsworth for the Eidolon collection, my other favorite tunes from among his 97-song catalog include the following: "Atavachron," "Sand," "Clown," "Joshua," "Wardenclyffe Tower," "Zarabeth," "Questions," "The Un-Merry Go Round Part 5," "Prelude," and "Hard Hat Area."

That said, all of Holdsworth's solo work is outstanding, especially if you love electric guitar in the context of jazz, rock, new age, and fusion.

Holdsworth clearly had more inspiration left in him, as he was recently working on his first new studio album in well over a decade. Hopefully his family will see fit to finish and release it.

In any event, the double CD and the box set serve as lasting reminders of Holdsworth's artistic excellence and purity.

Holdsworth may no longer be with us in body, but his "eidolon" will remain forever through his brilliant, one-of-a-kind music.

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Adios (2017), by Glen Campbell

CD Fan Review

Glen Campbell, who is in the final stages of Alzheimer's Disease, recorded this, his final studio album, in 2012 just after his diagnosis, and it is among his finest efforts.

Although the photography features Campbell posing with one of his guitars, Campbell leaves the instrumentation to others, most notably his long-time banjo player Carl Jackson, who produced the album and plays guitar, and Campbell's daughter Ashley, who plays banjo and accompanies and backs up her father on vocals. The album also features Campbell's sons Cal and Shannon and guests Willie Nelson and Vince Gill.

This allows the elder Campbell to focus on singing, and he really gives it his all. It would be a cliche to say he has never sounded better, but at the very least, his voice is as wide-ranging, nuanced, and poignant as ever, especially in light of – and in spite of – his personal struggles.

The songs are all excellent, making the album a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end and over and over again. I have developed a particular fondness for "Everybody's Talkin'," "Postcards from Paris," and "A Thing Called Love."

Adios is so good that you wish this wasn't the end. But it's a fitting farewell, as well as a lasting reminder of how good of a musician, singer, and all-around entertainer Glen Campbell was.

--Raj Manoharan

Chuck (2017), by Chuck Berry

CD Fan Review

After gracing Earth with his presence for 90 years, the father of rock-and-roll has left us mere mortals behind, but not without bequeathing to us his final, posthumously-released gift.

And what a gift it is!

Chuck is Chuck's first new studio album since 1979's Rock It! (and obviously now his last one), and it shows an artist for whom age truly was a number, as he hadn't lost his creative and performing spark.

I don't know of any other musician who sounds or sounded as vibrant and energetic at 90 years of age as Chuck does on this record. His guitar playing and singing are as lively as ever, especially combined with the latest, state-of-the-art recording technology. Chuck is still rocking it!

The album is a family affair, with Chuck's daughter on harmonica and accompanying/backup vocals and three generations of Berry men on guitars. Chuck Sr.'s classic style is unmistakable, with Chuck Jr. displaying more of a jazzy side and Chuck III ripping fiery, screeching solos. I hope the latter two continue their patriarch's legacy, at least in terms of guitar playing.

Chuck has left the building, and he goes out at the top of his game.

--Raj Manoharan

The Definitive Collection (2006), by Chuck Berry

CD Fan Review

Thirty seminal rock-and-roll hits, all on one compact disc, and clocking in at just over an hour. That's a pretty concise and pretty comprehensive overview of the career heyday of the man who started it all – the one and only Chuck Berry.

"Roll Over Beethoven" (famously covered by The Beatles during their Hamburg shows), "Maybelline," "Johnny B. Goode" – they're all here, the important and historic ones, at least.

Although the majority of the recordings are from the 1950s, the clarity and fidelity of the sound shine brightly, especially Berry's articulate vocals and stinging, sparkling guitar riffs.

The result is an engaging and entertaining retrospective fitting for rock's first singer and six-stringer.

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Adam West (1928-2017)

Of all the actors who have portrayed Bruce Wayne and his crimefighting, caped crusading alter ego Batman on (and off) camera, the third one, Adam West, is probably the most memorable and the most beloved.

A big part of my 1980s childhood (from reruns of the 1960s television series and motion picture), West is one of those actors I wish I had the chance to interview when I was a newspaper and magazine entertainment writer in the 1990s and 2000s.

Short of that, I got the next best thing – a 1966 Batman credit card with West's personalized autograph (as both himself and Batman) that I bought from West through his Web site a couple of years ago.

After the Batmania craze ended in the late 1960s, West returned to the role several times in animated form along with his co-star Burt Ward as Dick Grayson/Robin. The two also reunited for a semi-autobiographical, live-action TV movie in the early 2000s and most recently voiced their characters for an animated film set during the original show's era and released last year for the 50th anniversary.

West also received late-career notoriety playing himself on an episode of The Simpsons and an even more outlandish version – Mayor Adam West – on Family Guy.

Of all the Batmen before and after West, the ones with the most historical distinction are the first actor to play Batman (Lewis Wilson in the 1943 movie serial Batman) and the first actor to play Batman since West (Michael Keaton in the 1989 movie Batman, 21 years after the end of the TV series).

But the one Batman to rule them all is Adam West, who truly will be Batman forever.

--Raj Manoharan

Glenne Headly (1955-2017)

I loved her in Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy and TV's Monk.

A bright light of stage and screen, which will be less bright without her.

She will be surely missed and fondly remembered.

--Raj Manoharan

Roger Moore (1927-2017)

Saint, spy, bumbling inspector.

Fun memories of seeing Moonraker (1979), Octopussy (1983), and A View to a Kill (1985) in theaters during their original releases.

A class act through and through.

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection (2017), by Allan Holdsworth

CD Fan Review

Guitar great Allan Holdsworth sadly may be gone, but he is certainly not forgotten, especially thanks to the two-disc Eidolon: The Allan Holdsworth Collection and the 12-CD box set The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever! The Allan Holdsworth Album Collection.

As I had not listened to or kept track of Holdsworth for over a decade, I was shocked to read of his passing – and just as shocked to read it on the front page of Yahoo News. For someone as on the fringes of the mainstream as Holdsworth was, the decent print and online media coverage of his death has been somewhat heartening.

Although I had lost touch with Holdsworth's happenings in recent years, I immediately recalled the irresistible, Oriental guitar-and-synth hook of "Tokyo Dream," one of the highlights of the 28-track Eidolon compilation and obviously one of the most memorable Holdsworth tunes for me.

There are plenty of other great cuts on the album, which like the box set both was overseen by Holdsworth and came out just a week before he left us. Actually, all the songs, most of them instrumental, are great, as they all feature Holdsworth's virtuosic guitar and synthaxe playing.

But in terms of overall composition, hooks, and general awesomeness, my top ten tracks are as follows: "The Sixteen Men of Tain," "Eidolon," "Ruhkukah," "Low Levels, High Stakes," "Peril Premonition," "Non-Brewed Condiment," "Tokyo Dream," "Temporary Fault," "The 4.15 Bradford Executive," and "Curves."

Although 70 is too young to go, and it would have been nice to have Holdsworth with us for a little longer, at least he made it to 70. In his final years, the distinctively eagle-faced Holdsworth looked like a cuddly, lovable old grandpa, which by all accounts he was.

Holdsworth's was a life well lived and well played.

Well played, Mr. Holdsworth. Well played.

--Raj Manoharan

Infinite Tuesday: Autobiographical Riffs – The Music (2017), by Michael Nesmith

CD Fan Review

Released in conjunction with Michael Nesmith's memoir of the same name, Infinite Tuesday provides a fine introduction to and overview of Nesmith's music career from 1965 to 2005.

The collection is similar to George Harrison's first greatest hits album in that, just as the Harrison compilation featured his top songs with The Beatles, this retrospective includes Nesmith's lead vocal performances on his select Monkees compositions. Chief among these are the first recorded version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere," which showcases Nesmith in top form as a singer.

A solo highlight is the very pensive and existential "Opening Theme – Life, the Unsuspecting Captive" from Nesmith's 1974 concept album The Prison.

Also included here is "The New Recruit," a rare, cheeky anti-war song with endearingly goofy Gomer Pyle-style vocals recorded by Nesmith under the name Michael Blessing before joining The Monkees.

Infinite Tuesday isn't quite as infinite as it could be, as Nesmith has recorded new Monkees and solo material in recent years. But as a short primer on his official, physically released non-Monkees work, it gets the job done.

--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Allan Holdsworth (1946-2017)

One of the few, true guitar heroes.

Will never be another like him.

Great loss, irreplaceable.

--Raj Manoharan

Friday, March 24, 2017

Triboluminescence (2017), by Andy Summers

CD Fan Review

Summers got his groove back.

For the longest time, I had held out hope that Andy Summers would create another album similar in vein to his first two solo instrumental efforts, Mysterious Barricades (1988) and The Golden Wire (1989), which feature his compositions and guitar playing at their most transcendental and sublime. Triboluminescence rekindles the spirit of those original records, but on a whole other level, and the result is absolutely delightful.

Expounding upon his explorations of self-sufficient sonic possibilities begun with the 2015 industrial tech whack offering Metal Dog, Summers exceeds that accomplishment, using his guitars and other instruments (and cheating slightly with the collusion of cellist Artyom Manukyan on one track) to create alien and otherworldly sounds that transport you into a wondrous dimension of exhilarating sensory perception.

Standout tunes include the haunting “If Anything,” “Elephant Bird” (classic Andy Summers), "Gigantopithecus" (psychedelic reggae rock), “Ricochet” (bluesy funk), the eerie and enigmatic "Sam and Janet" (with a special cameo by "Metal Dog" from the album of the same name), and “Help from Jupiter” (spacey shades of Barricades and Bewitched). (The latter three tracks are digital/vinyl exclusives.)

Summers described his personal musical direction in the late 1980s and early 1990s as “new fusion.” He calls his unique stylings on Triboluminescence “new exotic.” I myself like to think of it as “new mysterious.”

Without a doubt, Triboluminescence certainly ranks as one of Andy Summers’ best albums (it's my personal favorite), right up there with his Private Music catalog, as well as Synaesthesia and Earth + Sky. It is also solid and demonstrable proof that at age 74, Andy Summers is still very much in his prime – and still very much in the top tier of guitar masters.

--Raj Manoharan

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

All hail the Pop of Rock!

And still poppin' and rockin' in peace!

New album out June 17!

--Raj Manoharan

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Logan (2017)

Movie Fan Review

At the very least, this is the best film adaptation of Marvel characters not produced by Marvel Studios. It is hands-down easily one of the best motion pictures of all time.

As graphic and unrelenting as the violence on display is, the writing, directing, and acting – all of which are far superior to the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies – transcend it.

The Western road-trip structure of the production, as well as its gorgeous location cinematography and organic action scenes, makes it a refreshing change of pace from the typical superhero saga super-soaked in outlandish computer graphic imagery. Also, the inclusion of actual X-Men comic books as props is a brilliant, self-referential touch. Plus, there are a couple of really intense, literally mind-numbing sequences.

Hugh Jackman’s and Patrick Stewart’s career-high performances in this are without peer among superhero movies, and their relationships with each other, newcomer Dafne Keen, and the other actors/characters are compelling and involving. You really root for the good guys, and you truly despise the bad guys.

Keen is a star in the making with her debut in this as the wild, feral, brutal, obstinate, and ultimately endearing Laura. Keen is the best child actor I’ve seen in a long time, if ever.

What our beloved Logan (Jackman) and Professor X (Stewart) go through is sobering and tough to watch, making their climactic payoffs substantive and dramatically and cathartically satisfying. Logan especially undergoes a transformative experience unlike any other superhero character on film before him, giving this movie a depth and soul that no other superhero picture has and thus making it the best in the genre.

The entire film, especially the very end, is a fitting tribute to the most beloved X-Men character both in comics and on screen.

On a tangential note, the Deadpool short preceding Logan is a riot and, although completely different in feel and tone, a great lead-in to the main show.

--Raj Manoharan


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Andy Summers' New Album Due for Release in Late March

Andy Summers' latest album, Triboluminescence, is scheduled to be released in late March (Summers' Web site says March 24; Amazon says March 31).

Continuing in the experimental vein of Summers' last release, 2015's Metal Dog, the new collection again features Summers playing all the instruments in addition to his signature guitars, with the exception of the cello played by Artyom Manukyan on the track “Garden of the Sea.”

Triboluminescence is available for pre-order on Amazon.

--Raj Manoharan

Monday, February 27, 2017

EJ (2016), by Eric Johnson

CD Fan Review

To this day, Eric Johnson’s acoustic guitar instrumental “Desert Song,” from his 1986 debut album Tones, strikes me as underwhelming. Perhaps it’s because it stands alone among and pales in comparison to his vastly superior electric guitar songs on that record.

However, Johnson’s acoustic compositions have improved greatly over the years – his virtuosity as both an electric and an acoustic guitarist was never in question – and EJ, his first full acoustic guitar and piano album, showcases him at the apex of his skills away from the electric guitar.

Housed in an elegant digipak with a glossy booklet and high-quality artwork and photographs, the collection provides a balanced mix of acoustic guitar and/or piano instrumentals and vocal songs – some covers and some originals – with additional backing from guest musicians and vocalists on a few tracks.

In addition to his superb mastery of frets and keys, Johnson is also at the top of his game as a singer. At 62 years of age, he still sounds exactly like he did in his 20s, but with more soulful nuance and the wisdom of much experience.

Instrumental highlights include “Once Upon a Time in Texas,” “Song for Irene,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.” Of the vocal songs – all of which are excellent – my personal favorites are the folksy jazz-rock fusion take on Jimi Hendrix's "One Rainy Wish," "All Things You Are," and the epic, stunning solo piano rendition of Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair/Canticle."

EJ not only takes its place alongside Eric Johnson’s finest works and the top guitar/piano albums, but also as one of the best efforts in any music genre.

--Raj Manoharan

Friday, February 10, 2017

Live at Jay Resort, Jay, Vermont 9/10/2016 (2016), by Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers

Music Download Fan Review

I was looking for a good overview of Bruce Hornsby’s thus-far 30-year career, and wouldn’t you know it, Hornsby himself just provided a great one as a free download at www.brucehornsbylive.com.

With a running time of at least two hours, this set not only revisits some seminal songs from The Range but also features a lot of Hornsby’s solo and Noisemaker material.

While the majority of the tunes are not as recognizable as Hornsby’s hits from his 1980s heyday, they all feature his unique talents on piano, keyboards, accordion, and hammered dulcimer, as well as his penchant for quirky, funky rhythmic grooves.

And from the sound of his voice, Hornsby’s pipes are as golden as ever, showing no trace of his 62 years of age. In fact, Hornsby’s singing leaves today’s younger “talents” in the dust.

Adding to the exhilaration and exuberance of this live performance is the energetic and enthusiastic playing of The Noisemakers: JV Collier on bass, Gibb Droll on guitar, JT Thomas on organ, Ross Holmes on fiddle and mandolin, and Sonny Emory on drums and percussion.

Musical highlights include “Take Out the Trash,” “Dreamland,” “The Show Goes On,” and Hornsby’s brilliant, beautiful, breathtaking fusion of his “Fortunate Son” with the Pink Floyd classic “Comfortably Numb.”

If you’re looking for an awesome and enjoyable celebration of Bruce Hornsby’s first 30 years of music, this timely and entertaining release certainly fits the bill.

--Raj Manoharan

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Richard Hatch (1945-2017)

I was a literally starry-eyed five-year-old when I first saw Battlestar Galactica upon its premiere in 1978.

For the next year, I was rapt as I watched Commander Adama (Lorne Greene), his son Captain Apollo (Richard Hatch), and Lieutenant Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) lead a ragtag fleet of spaceships in search of the lost thirteenth human colony, Earth.

Around the same time, or maybe a little while after, I remember seeing Hatch on the big screen in Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen.

In the late 1990s, I had the good fortune, honor, and privilege of interviewing Hatch by telephone for the IGN Sci-Fi Web site. At the time, Hatch had written a couple of Battlestar Galactica novels and produced a professionally made trailer for a potential sequel series starring him and many veterans of the original show.

At the end of the interview, I mentioned to Hatch that my mother was a fan of his since his soap opera days. He immediately asked for my mother’s name and address and promptly mailed her a personally autographed black-and-white photograph of himself.

Thank you, Mr. Hatch, for taking the time to talk to me, and also for your graciousness.

--Raj Manoharan

Friday, January 20, 2017

Miguel Ferrer (1955-2017)

My first encounters with Mr. Ferrer on film were Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (he wasn’t a known actor at that point; he played an unnamed bridge officer aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior) and Robocop.

Since then, he had become quite the familiar face in movies and television, racking up an impressive list of credits, the most recent being a long-running role on the hit TV series NCIS: Los Angeles.

One of the many progeny of Oscar- and Tony-winning actor Jose Ferrer and singer Rosemary Clooney (and thus a cousin of George Clooney), Miguel Ferrer was a fine, accomplished, and versatile actor.

Rest well, good man.

--Raj Manoharan

Cowboy Classics Sampler (2016), by Patrick Stewart

CD Fan Review

For a Royal Shakespearean actor from England who has trekked to the stars, fought magnetic mutants, and talked bluntly, Patrick Stewart makes quite the convincing country crooner.

Unlike his equally musically inclined intergalactic predecessor, Stewart actually sings these cowboy classics (with the exception of “Ringo,” and to great effect). And he does a pretty fine job of it.

It certainly helps that Stewart is backed by a top-notch band of musicians, including Ethan Eubanks (drums/percussion/vocals), Andrew Sherman (piano/accordion/vocals), Jim Campilongo (guitars), Jon Graboff (pedal steel/guitars/vocals), and Jeff Hill (bass).

But Stewart really goes for it and gets into the character of these Western ditties, giving it his all as he belts out his unique brand of British country twang in pitches I wasn’t previously aware that he was capable of. In fact, if I didn’t know beforehand that this was Patrick Stewart, I wouldn’t have recognized his voice for the most part (he does sound somewhat like himself on his gleefully giddy interpretation of “Here Comes Santa Claus.”)

If you like country (and Christmas) music and Patrick Stewart, you’re in for a real treat. What could have easily been an exercise in pure hokeyness (not altogether a bad thing in itself) manages to be both kitschy and classy thanks to Stewart’s talents and penchant for having a grand old time.

I do reckon there’s a future for Patrick Stewart in them there musical hills.

--Raj Manoharan

The Way It Is – Live (2016), by Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers

Music Download Fan Review

Thirty years after the release of his debut album The Way It Is (with The Range), Bruce Hornsby and his current band The Noisemakers revisit that seminal moment with live performances of the entire record. The concert, which comprises two dates, is available as a free download on www.brucehornsbylive.com.

In addition to demonstrating the timelessness of those 1986 songs, the new versions prove that, vocally, the 62-year-old Hornsby is nearly indistinguishable from his 32-year-old self.

Hornsby is also still at the top of his game instrumentally, maintaining his edge as a keyboard impresario on piano, accordion, and synthesizers. The Noisemakers aren’t too shabby, either. Consisting of JV Collier on bass, Gibb Droll on guitar, Ross Holmes on fiddle and mandolin, JT Thomas on organ, and Sonny Emory on drums, this band is as tight as they come.

While the songs remain essentially the same, some spirited improvisational detours ensure that they live on with a new vigor and vitality.

And that's The Way It Is.

--Raj Manoharan