Manitoba's Wild Kingdom were a heavy metal and punk rock band based in New York City. They are perhaps most notable for consisting, in part, of members of the New York punk band The Dictators and for being one of the very few musical groups Sandy Pearlman ever signed to his short-lived record label, Popular Metaphysics. They were formed in 1986, and most recently performed in 2008.
In late 1986, former members of The Dictators, vocalist Richard Manitoba, bassist and songwriter Andy Shernoff, and guitarist Daniel Rey (Rabinowitz), producer for The Ramones, organized to form the band Wild Kingdom. The Dictators had disbanded in late 1978. The three released a cover version of the song, "New York, New York" on the 1988 soundtrack to the film, Mondo New York.
They signed with Sandy Pearlman (best known for his work with Blue Öyster Cult), who had also produced albums for The Dictators, on his Pearlman's new label, Popular Metaphysics, which was formerly the San Francisco punk label, 415 Records. Soon after they began recording, Rey left the band and was replaced in 1989 by guitarist Ross "The Boss" Friedman, also formerly of The Dictators. The band began billing itself as Manitoba's Wild Kingdom in 1989 after Rey's departure, in shows around the New York City and New Jersey region. Drummer J.P. (Thunderbolt) Patterson, who would later become a member of The Dictators, and guitarist Ron Hanley also joined Manitoba's Wild Kingdom.
Pearlman released the band’s debut album, ...And You?, in 1990, on Popular Metaphysics, co-branded with MCA. The album is 25 minutes long, contains ten songs, and was released in Germany, the UK, and the US on CD, LP, and cassette. All the songs were written by bass player Andy Shernoff who also produced the album. The cover of the album was controversial, in that it depicted an image from a Nazi recruiting poster from World War II. The Dictators had experienced similar provocation around their first album, Go Girl Crazy!, which contained the songs, "Master Race Rock" and "Back to Africa." Perhaps ironic was the fact that most bandmembers, of both bands, were and are Jewish. The album itself was well received. Rolling Stone calling it "the first great punk rock album of the '90s", and All Music Guide's Geoff Ginsberg called the album "amazing", and also said of it, "Twenty-five minutes of blazing, cleanly recorded punk/metal, the disc is close to perfect, if a bit short.". They filmed a video for the song "The Party Starts Now!!", featuring the future Mrs. Kelsey Grammer, Camille Donatacci, that received regular airplay on MTV and rose to No. 8 on its Video Countdown in the summer of 1990. The song "New York, New York" would also appear on the soundtrack album for the film Mondo New York.
The band did a club tour that year and then in 1991, rhythm guitarist Scott Kempner, formerly of both The Dictators original lineup and the Del Lords, joined the band, whereupon they became The Dictators again. They reunited for their most recent performance having been at the 2008 Joey Ramone Birthday Bash, with a lineup that featured Manitoba, Shernoff, Friedman and Patterson.
Their album ...And You? was re-released in 2009 on LP & CD on American Beat Records in the US. The Dictators still play songs from Manitoba's Wild Kingdom's album, and frequently open their shows with either "New York, New York" or "The Party Starts Now!!" Daniel Rey currently plays with The Martinets.Handsome Dick Manitoba – lead vocals (1986–1991, 2008)
Andy Shernoff – bass, vocals (1986–1991, 2008)
Daniel Rey – guitar (1986–1989)
Ross the Boss (Ross Friedman) – guitar (1989–1991, 2008)
J.P. "Thunderbolt" Patterson – drums, vocals (1989–1991, 2008)
Scott Kempner – guitar (1991)
Ron Hanley - guitar (1989)
All tracks written by Andy Shernoff.