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Artist: Manning
Title: A Matter Of Life And Death
Running time: 54:00
Released: October, 2004
Availability: Online 

Personnel: Guy Manning: Vocals, Keyboards, 6 & 12 string Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Bass, Mandolin, Drums and Percussion.
Laura Fowles: Sax and Vocals
Gareth Harwood: Electric Guitars and Vocals
Rick Ashton: Bass and Vocals

With special guests: Andy Tillison ( Moog and Keyboards) , Ian Fairbairn ( Fiddle), Neil Harris ( Piano), Tim Moon (Cello) and John Tipping (Drums)

A Matter Of Life And Death is a testament to the human condition. How many times have we said to ourselves, " I still have time to do this or that." The fact is, we're all running out of time......

A scene.... Autumn leaves rustling about on a bright and breezy morning.....

The new Manning album is a haunting story of "Abel Mann." When we last saw Abel, it was on Guy's first album, "Tall Stories For Small Children." Here is the rest of his story. Writing his memoirs, Abel has found that throughout his life, he has isolated himself from those who love him and shut himself off to the rest of the world, except those aspects which can fill his need for success.

Abel has paid a high price for his success, and he is now reflecting on his life through his writings and doesn't care for what he sees.

And the plot thickens.......

A Matter Of Life And Death is indeed one of those rare gems in the Prog world that demands a listen. Manning's song-writing, production and arranging abilities grow stronger with each passing album, and the compositions and themes become more and more complex. It's an album of transition, not only a new label for Manning, but also this is probably the first album in a long time that Guy has melded acoustic and electric based songs with such cohesion that it hearkens back to the Al Stewart classic, Modern Times. Guy has shed the "epic tracks" for this album, they are not needed as the whole album is an epic unto itself.

Guy allowed me to hear some of the early demos of this album as he was working on them. It was truly amazing to hear each song grow in stature and complexity. Guy's ability to know "Just where to place something" is truly amazing. It was an honor and privilege to see this album grow into the brilliant piece of work that it is now.

Those of you who discovered Manning through the Tangent are indeed in for a very special listen. As this album will truly highlight Guy's ability far beyond his work on the Tangent records. Guy isn't content with giving you a piece of music and allowing you to get comfortable with it, he is always moving into new things. Manning is a true Progressive artist.

Something must be said of the fabulous artwork that is found throughout the album. Soviet artist, Ed Unitsky of Tangent fame has created some of the best "Progressive Rock" artwork since the heyday of Hipgnosis, Roger Dean and Paul Whitehead. A lovely package, both musically and visually striking.

Manning is a troubadour for the 21st century. He carries on where the classic era of singer/songwriter material in a Progressive Rock format left off. Fans of Al Stewart, Sandy Denny, David Cousins, Roy Harper, Bruce Cockburn and a few others will certainly make this release a Matter Of Life And Death to add to their collections.

Thanks for your time,

Lew Fisher