This album is again, dare I
say it, an absolute treat from Mr Manning! Crikey! I've said this with many
of his albums now, 'Anser's Tree' and 'Songs From Bilston House' in
particular. But the quality remains despite the quite prolific output. And
what I like most is just how typically English it all sounds; well it would
I guess - it isn't called No.10 for nothing! But there's a real quirky feel
amongst the fabulously relaxed playing and beautiful melodies that bring
back memories of Caravan and that whole Canterbury scene.
Favourites for me are 'The Final Chapter' which features some great, inconspicuous almost, guitar fills in between verses and tremendous Sax to counterpoint the lead vocal - what a fabulous tune; there's progressive rock which this is, but then there's great music, which this is too.
And then there's 'The House on the Hill' - the valedictory track, which bleeds at the start with Guy's emotive voice, beautiful piano chords and synth melody. And then just approaching the 2 minute mark, it starts to break loose with Tull-ish era flute and backing that Anderson and Co. might wish they'd written - in fact it would all fit in rather nicely with 'Thick as a Brick'! Let's face it - Guy's voice is not dissimilar to Ian Anderson's. There's a real free and playful feel to the music that suggests everyone's having a bloody great time recording this and that really makes it an infectious listen for me. The jazzy piano around the 6 minute mark is a delight we rarely hear these days in such clarity - Neal Morse does it his way, but Guy's way is as great if not better. It's like listening to a modern day 'Nine Feet Underground'.
As you can guess, I love listening to music and making reference to various influences - whether they actually are influences or not - but to be able to do that yet listen to a piece of music which is coherent in the whole and seamlessly moves through each section with ease is a delight. And in the last 5 minutes we're treated to awesome spine-tingling violin and mellotron, followed by a beautiful flute and melodic vocal verse / sequence as well as a Sax soaring through the sky searching for and reaching the stars; brilliant! Turn back the clocks and make this moment last........indeed.