Alternate View Reviews

Guy Manning:
Tall Stories For Small Children

Cyclops (CYCL 078)

Guy Manning is a one of the new wave of art-rock artists to come out of Yorkshire. Until now, he has been best know for his work with Parallel Or 90 Degrees, but he has now found the time to drag his PO90-friends into the studio and record some of his own songs. The result is his debut album Tall Stories For Small Children starring Guy on guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion and mandolin (talented little bugger, isn't he!), Andy Tillison on keyboards and drum programming and Jonathon Barrett on bass guitar with Simon Baskind on percussion, Pav Chana on tablas and Jon Burr on harmonica. The album was produced by Guy and Andy.

The album contains seven tracks - well fifteen according to the CD counter - but seven separate compositions two of which are subdivided into more tracklets. The whole thing follows a main theme about children, and Guy has dedicated it to his own three - who in turn have reciprocated by providing the artwork for the album. Most parents stick their children's pictures on the wall - Guy sticks his on his debut CD booklet!

This is an excellent album. Don't expect symphonic rock here, Guy approaches prog from the singer songwriter direction - producing an album where the lyrics and melodies are more important than the over-blown instrumentation. Andy's influence is very strong right from the start - The Last Psalm wouldn't have been out of place on a Parallel Or 90 Degrees album. In contrast though, many of the other tracks have a much more acoustic feel, retro without being dated.

Guy has a great voice and a neat ability to put lyric to melody, and you need the lyric sheet to really appreciate the songs, but equally they work if you sit back and let the whole album flow over you.

Frank Blades