Well how do I describe my album of the year? The latest album from Manning
takes you through a musical journey, the trials and tribulations, the joys
and sorrows of relationships, with powerful, sentimental, moving, exciting
music, in the finest tradition of quintessential English Progressive Rock.
Hold on a minute though, this album is not ‘retro’ or ‘dated’ in any way,
the style and influences are all there, if you really need to listen for
them, but this music can stand alone, it has something different in every
song, it’s new, it’s real.
The album opens with the wonderfully gentle acoustic opener, ‘A Ripple (From Ragged Curtains)’. Then the pace quickens somewhat with the fantastic foot tapping rocker, ‘Tightrope’. A superb driving keyboard undercurrent, good solid guitar breaks and wonderful sax incursions, always done to perfection, adding to the mood but never dominating. The instrumental passage with ‘Hammond’ keys and laid back sax leads you into a false sense of calm before the song builds itself back up to a fitting conclusion.
‘A Place to Hide’ is probably the best gentle song I’ve ever heard. A deceptively catchy melody, delivered in the unique Guy Manning style, through the vocals, that rich powerful voice. The song may have that laid back feel but I soon found myself humming the catchy chorus.
‘Where do all the Madmen Go?’ is another superb song, with a slightly funky feel, constantly changing and building to a great guitar moment. Powerful yet wonderfully melodic, never hard on the ear, with a hint of something strangely familiar during the terrific guitar close out.
‘Stronger’ is another quieter track, but don’t let that put you off, there is so much going on. The ever-changing backing sits effortlessly with the powerful but subtle vocals. A wonderful guitar break cutting through the laid back sax.
‘What is it Worth?’ glides along with interest all the way through, as does ‘The Weaver of Dreams’, the flute work from Angela Goldthorpe adding that something extra, but not taking away that typical Manning feel to proceedings.
To the final masterpiece, ‘Ragged Curtains’, what can I say? twenty five minutes of wonderful progressive music, Pink Floyd meets Mostly Autumn with a dash of early Genesis and a huge chunk of Manning. Wonderful quiet, almost electronic, ambient moments, some great time changes and subtle shades, bursting into life for an exciting, driving middle section. Then gently moving from full on to a gentler yet still powerfully emotive closing section.
This album has something for everyone, go on treat yourselves.
Details of how to get hold of this modern masterpiece of progressive music are available at either:
The Official Guy Manning Web Site: www.guymanning.com
or from GFT Cyclops Web Site: www.gft-cyclops.co.uk