Manning - Number Ten
Number 10. It's a tenth record of a group called Manning. One must admit
that multi-instrumentalist Guy Manning is a very busy fellow, because
the group that he's the leader of is publishing their albums quite often
(10 LPs in the span of ten years). Those numbers are admirable, but the
question arises whether or not this uncanny frequency of publishing is
not negatively influencing the quality? The answer to this question
depends on the attitude of the listener. If you're looking for a good
music mixture in the style of The Tangent group then "Number 10" will
not disappoint you. However, it might be bit worse if you are looking
for something new and revolutionary. It can be a let down, because Guy
Manning who is publishing a record after record cannot find time to
bring revolutionary ideas into his creations. On the whole, it is worth
a listen, as "Number 10" is more than 60 minutes of melodic, "classical"
and in many cases really beautiful progressive rock.
The LP consists of eight tracks:
'Ships'. Happy and upbeat track for the beginning. The fragments that I
really liked is the chorus and the "conversation" between saxophone and
keyboards that follows (around 2 minutes in).
'The Final Chapter'. The upbeat intro changes into toned down verse with
vocals of Guy Manning in the foreground and a variety of different
sounds in the back. The third minute of the track is where the voice is
exchanged for instruments. They in turn "tell" us their own story. The
fact is that the music on this record is very rich in sound texture and
has been polished to a high degree.
'An Ordinary Day'. A wonderful track. A sensible piano, elegiac keyboard
backgrounds and smart vocals makes you want to come back to this song
over and over again and discover new things in it every time.
'Blood Holiday!'. A comeback to "live" sounds. The atmosphere is built
up by "bizarre" saxophone sounds and when in the third minute beautiful
keyboard sounds take charge, the overall atmosphere of a song is turned
by 180 degrees.
'Valentine's Night'. The first noticeable thing is that Guy has combined
his vocals with the one of Julia King, who in turn brought a lot of
female sensitivity to the song. A subtle instrumental background only
enhances the magical aura that the vocals are creating. The outro of
this track is the proof that a participation of more than ten musicians
can and is heard in the end of this song – the breadth and magnitude of
each instrument's part make a real impression.
'A Road Less Traveled'. It starts of slowly and quite lazily, but with
every minute is develops and attracts the listener with small details.
The fourth minute marks the appearance of a rhythmical beat that makes
all the sounds seem more dynamic. One should also mention the
improvisation that takes place in the sixth minute and during the
following seconds enchant listeners with many turns and twists. It is
after all a 10 minute solid pleasure for progressive rock fans.
'Another Lazy Sunday'. In the waiting process for the main track of the
record we get another shorter and more compact song. It does not mean
that it is a simple song. No way! In the third minute the fantasy is let
to run wild and we are taken on a "outer space" journey.
'The House On The Hill'. The big finale and the main track of the LP is
a suite that lasts over 10 minutes. It has many changes in the pace as
well as atmosphere so you cannot be bored. Delicate and toned down
pieces are connected by dynamic and upbeat ones and overall they give a
great picture of what music does Guy Manning do in 2009. Every
instrument is given enough space to show its talent and craftsmanship.
For fans of progressive rock from 70's this track will be a real feast.
"Number 10" will not disappoint fans of Guy Manning as it keeps up a
high quality level as did the previous albums of this composer. In
addition it adds up some extra elements. However, there is not clear
revolution. Is that good or bad – the answer belongs to you. The album
is strictly for true progressive fans. Seekers of new musical challenges
will not find much on Manning's new album. Maybe the next one will bring
some bigger changes? We'll just have to see. For now I advise you to
find your own opinion about the commemorative "Number Ten"."
Author: Maciej Stwora, 09/2/09
Translation: Piotr Widulinski