Guy Manning : Vocals, Keyboards, 6 & 12 String Acoustic and Electric
guitars, Mandolin , E-Bow, Peace Harp, Chimes & Bass Guitar, Drums &
Laura Fowles: Vocals , Saxophones
Gareth Harwood: Electric Guitar
Jonathan MacDonald Binns: Drums
Neil Harris: Keyboards , Percussion
Rick Ashton: Bass Guitar
Angela Goldthorpe provides Flutes & Recorders (Courtesy Of 'Mostly Autumn'),
Andy Tillison-Diskdrive for Organ on "Sea" and Analogue Synths on "Tides" (Courtesy of PO90!),
Laura, Dan, Simon & Gareth: Voices.
Produced/Engineered By: Guy Manning / John Spence @ Fairview Studios, Hull & Burnside Studios, Leeds By April 2002.
I knew of Guy Manning because my interest in Mostly Autumn grew. I wanted to know all about this band, so I found out that Angela Goldthorpe played with Guy Manning on the album Cascade ('01).
After reading a good rated review at DPRP I bought the album at CYCLOPS... And it was worth IT. Although not all of the album was fine proggy music, there were a few catchy poppy songs and a few nice ballads on it. But it sounded great. It was so great that I ordered their second album The Cure ('00) too and again a very fine album to listen too. But now ''The Ragged Curtain':
It opens with a beautiful acoustic guitar piece before the next track "Tightrope" kicks off. After hearing just those two songs you'll know this album with be great and you want to discover the whole CD. The sound is a pleasure for you r speakers too.
"A Place To Hide" starts with a nice guitar and Laura Fowles voice speaking about relations hips (it reminds me of the spoken words on "The Dark Side Of The Moon", mysterious, it keeps your attention to the music, so sit down in your coach and listen). Not really a progressive song but a nice ballad. Laura's sax give it an extra dimension. The arrangement of sax, flute, mellotron, guitars and rhythm-section is brilliant. Guys plays a number of instruments, so it is hard to say who plays what, except Laura of course. Is that important? Sure it is. I can remember the discussions at alt.music.pink-floyd about who was playing the bass line of "One Of These Days" and i think we'll still discus s this album in 10 years time and w ill want to discover each note and every spoken word of it.
"Where Do All The Madman Go?" brings us back to Earth again; in the Caribbean region. It got a really nice beat. Again cat c hy mellotron and a two guitars in a sharp duel.
Guy is a strong songwriter; " Stronger " is an example of his skills. It's a simple love song witch reminds me, aga i n, of the old Genesis (Trespass, Selling England... & And Then There Where Three era). Nice structure, amazing sax and "... those magic spoken words...".
"What is It worth?" & "The Weaver Of Dreams" glide us gently and smooth ly into the epic "Ragged Curtain s ". The songs have a unique "Manning sound" and reveal Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Rod Argent, Camel, the old Genesis and The Alan Parsons Live. But it doesn't sound dated or retro, this is how nice smooth progressive music should sound.
The epic, what can i say? Tempo-changes, wonderful instrumentations, screaming saxes, acoustic and leading guitars, excellent keyboard parts, a perfect rhythm section, harmonies, a lovely flute, melodic voice, laid down by incredible musicians.
Without this song this album is great, with this epic the album could become the album of the year... but which year; 2002 or 2003? Cyclops sold some copies in 2002 but the stores had to wait till 2003. I would choose for 2003, because in 2002 there was that dvd from David Gilmour and Ii wouldn't want to make a choice. But on the other hand, Mostly Autumn will bring out a new album and Manning is working on " The View From My Window " ...
A great, sometimes acoustic based, proggy album, warm and lush keyboards, Guys voice is in shape, accompanied by flute, acoustic & sliding guitars, just a perfect rhythm section and a key-role for Laura on sax. Accessible complex music with great proggy beats, sometimes leaning to very good singer-songwriter-songs; go buy this album and see them live.
With love from Nick.