Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Manning ~ Number 10

Unbelievably, this is Guy Manning’s tenth studio album in as many years, hence the title. Producing an album a year would be a task for most artists, but the consistency of the quality of his songwriting throughout each album is nothing short of staggering. Strangely, with this latest offering Guy just missed the album a year mark by just a few weeks.

“Number 10” is the second release on the UK Festival Music Label, following on from the exceptional “Songs from the Bilston House”. This is also the second to be co-produced by Andy Tillison of The Tangent, which Guy is also a member of. Both have worked together for many years and having Andy on board has added an extra musical punch to both albums.

This latest collection starts off in fine fashion with the storming rocker “Ships” about a relationship that is all at sea! The opening has some scorching Hammond playing, very ELP! Great guitar work by David Million on this too. Next up is “The Final Chapter” which is another great uptempo number with a very nice synth solo in the middle. “An Ordinary Day”, one of Guy’s most observational songs and also one of his most beautiful. There is a delicacy and airiness about this song that is quite breathtaking. There is nothing delicate about “Bloody Holiday! ”, a wry observational piece and with a catchy chorus that will be ringing in your ears for days! Possibly this is the finest prog song about holidays since Gentle Giants “Two Weeks In Spain”. It may actually be the only one! “A Valentines Night” is an excellent duet between Guy and Mrs Manning, Julie King who did a wonderful vocal on The Tangents “Four Egos, One War” from their last album. “A Road Less Travelled” is the first of two extended pieces, which allow the musicians to stretch out. Quite a Celtic feel to this, with some fantastic fiddle playing by Ian Fairbairn. Guy has really surrounded himself with a host of fantastic musicians on this album, all who work in complete empathy with Guys music. “Another Lazy Sunday” is another accurately observed song with Laura Fowles sax very much to the fore on this.

The whole album ends in spectacular fashion with the 15 minute “A House on the Hill”. This for me is one of Guys best compositions ever. Lyrically this seems to be a tale of love across time and reminds me of the 1980 film “Somewhere In Time” which starred Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. There is an excellent musical build up from the simple piano led opening (which to my ears has echo’s of Peter Hammill at his most reflective) and which peaks with the muscualr instrumental mid-section penned by Guy and Andy Tillison. The songs finale offers a pleasing emotional climax to the story and clearly shows what a great lyricist Guy is.

There are very few artists today who apply the craft of the classic singer/songwriter within the prog genre. The only other that comes to mind is Steve Thorne. Guy over the course of ten years has refined his style, built up a group of excellent supporting musicians and has consistently produced work of such a high standard. “Number 10” is up there with his best, which is most of his output and is a very fitting celebration of ten years worth of superb music. Here’s to another ten.


Blogger GuyManning said...

Number Ten was actully ready for release in Nov 2008 but we waited until 2009 to release it :-

1. Because we wanted to start the 10th Anniversary year off with something special

2. To see if we could actually appear in any 'Best of the year' polls...Normally we release so late on in the yeat that the album gets forgotten in the pre Xmas rush!

Guy (Manning)

3:25 PM  
Blogger GuyManning said...

Thanks for the nice words Barrie, so glad you enjoyed it!

3:27 PM  
Blogger greatGrandson said...

Guy Manning commented on your blog. Wow!

6:55 AM  
Blogger Barrie Sillars said...

Hi Guy,

I hope the album does very well, it deserves it. I am hoping to have the review published in another prog rock web site. Once I get the nod this will happen I will let you know.

The album will be appearing in my best of year poll without a doubt.

All the best.


11:41 AM  

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