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The cunningly titled Number Ten marks ten albums in ten years for the prolific Guy Manning and continues in the strong tradition of much of his previous output by proving to be a quality collection of well crafted songs delivered in his own inimitable style. Andy Tillison from Guy's other musical endeavour The Tangent is once again on hand to provide co-production together with a virtual roll call of collaborators who all play their part in ensuring Number Ten is another worthy addition to the Manning catalogue. "Ships" provides a jaunty opening with some enthusiastic Hammond, smooth guitar work courtesy of David Million and sparkling sax from Laura Fowles. The up-tempo vibe is continued with "The Final Chapter" which effectively combines power and melody and is followed by a significant shift in mood with the stand-out "An Ordinary Day", both reflective and sincere with Guy's vocal conveying the emotion expressed in the poignant lyric.

"Bloody Holiday!" takes us on another sharp curve with a tongue-in-cheek look at the stresses that can be caused on a long haul flight and a subtle reference to 10cc's gem "I'm Mandy, Fly Me" sneaks into the lyric. Another song that works extremely well on all levels and also comes with the most infectious chorus on the whole album. Julie King adds her voice to the elegiac "Valentine's Night", a gentle duet which chills and soothes in equal measure. The first of the albums two epics is "The Road Less Travelled" which evokes the spirit of 70's Tull, the instrumental breakdown at the six minute mark building to a sweeping coda. The sax returns for the jazzy "Another Lazy Sunday" which has another direct lyric that will strike a chord with many. Finally the mesmeric "The House On The Hill" is a fifteen minute piece divided into four parts that has an exquisite vibe of tone and melody and is thoroughly captivating.

In our review of Songs From The Bilston House the point was made that the timing of Guy's year end releases often meant they were overlooked for "best of" lists. There is no such chance that the same will happen with Number Ten which will undoubtedly feature prominently.

Essential listening.

Track Listing
1. Ships
2. The Final Chapter
3. An Ordinary Day
4. Bloody Holiday!
5. Valentine's Night
6. A Road Less Travelled
7. Another Lazy Sunday
8. The House On The Hill

Added: March 28th 2009

Reviewer: Dean Pedley
Score: **** 1/2