I only know Guy Manning from THE TANGENT and it is 16 months since I their last album hit my ears and a new universe opened up for me. I purchased this album together with some other MANNING albums and forgot about it. I finally gave it a listen some days ago and....... VOW !!!
This album is an album of songs and not what I normally regard as a progressive rock album with one theme running through it. The songs are coherent, but also diverse at the same time. The album opens with the rather frisky Ships. A good opener, but nothing special. Still, it gets my attention and I eagerly awaits the second song. The Final Chapter starts almost like an Irish Jig and continues down with a very interesting melody and good references to THE TANGENT. The instrumental middle part has a lot of references to the Canterbury Scene and the likes of CARAVAN pops up before the Irish theme comes back. Excellent ! The first ballad An Ordinary Day is absolute excellent with it's moody, pastoral theme. STRAWBS is a reference here. I absolute love this song. Bloody Holiday! is a funny song with references to last year's total chaos at the British Airports. Heathrow Airport was an absolute shamble and Guy Manning describe it in a funny way. His last line is something about "next year in Margate". Margate is a beach resort just outside London and an old favourite among proggers and holiday makers. What would prog rock be without Margate ? Anyway, the song is pretty funny with some good Canterbury Scene like keyboards in the middle. Thumbs up from me and I will take his advice about staying away from English airports in the future. Guy cares about his fans !
The fifth song Valentine's Night is another lovely ballad with some introspective moods and pace. It is another one of my favourites here. The keyboards is very nice and the mood almost dark. Superb. The ten minutes long A Road Less Travelled starts with an Irish theme and continues down a very interesting path where the music builds up to a very interesting instrumental part. There is shades of STRAWBS and THE TANGENT all over this melody. But most of all; this is Guy Manning. And he is very good at what he is doing. This is another favourite of mine. Another Lazy Sunday is a rather catchy and fast song with a great keyboard theme. It is almost a hawk among eagles here, but still a good song. I like it although this is the weakest song on the album. Some may say it is the best song on this album. You decide. The fifteen minutes long The House On The Hill is the closing song here. It pretty much sums up the album with some excellent melodic parts. The references are the Canterbury Scene, JETHRO TULL, THE TANGENT and PENDRAGON. But most of all; Guy Manning himself. When the last tone fades out, my head is filled with great music and I am a happier man.
This is a truly great album which in my view
sits somewhere between THE TANGENT and STRAWBS. This is the first
MANNING album I have heard and I not an MANNING expert by any means. But
from what I hear from this album, Guy Manning is most definite an artist
I need to spend time on. This album is on my heavy rotation list and Guy
Manning is on my Christmas Card list.