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Manning - The Ragged Curtain CD (album) cover

THE RAGGED CURTAIN

Manning

 

Eclectic Prog

3.80 | 42 ratings

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Topograph
5 stars Another great listening experience for me.

Although the first opening snippet of the album is in fact a teaser for the long epic Ragged Curtains which concludes the CD, this is an album of 3 parts, made up of two large suites of songs which are bridged by a shorter central piece.

The first suite The Marriage of Heaven & Hell (taken I guess from Blake) is an ambitious set of segued songs relating to the journey taken on our pursuit of love/relationships. Ripping an idea directly from Pink Floyds Dark Side..., the songs are interwoven with short soundbytes of interviews with various people about this topic. The suite is made up of some quite diverse tracks.

The more prog oruentated Tightrope is a tight rocker with plenty of solo opportunities for the lead instruments. This is a perfect candicate for a live rendition. It punches and delivers, guns blazing!

A Place to hide could have been a 'boy band' ballad! A quite infectious chorus delivered in a mellow jazzy way by Guy Manning & his players.

Where do all the madmen go? is a reggae tinged pop song which in its outro pays homage to All the young dudes which is a nice humorious touch. This 'guy' obviously does not take himself too seriously all the time!

Stronger is a more 80's sounding (synthetic drums) Howard Jones-esque type of affair which has nice evocative lyrics and is packed with emotional content.

The suite ends with the thoughtful What is it worth? which is one of the more jazz based songs on the album featuring nice cool sax parts from Laura Fowles.

A very full and rewarding set of linked pieces

The 'shorter' piede of teh album is The Weaver of Dreams a fantasy based lyric with a absolutely lovely middle section featuring Angela Gordon (guesting from Mostly Autumn) and Gareth Harwood (the excellent electric lead guitarist on this album). This instrumental centre build beautifully in a old school Genesis sounding arrangement - superb..

The album concludes with a lrge epic constructed piece Ragged Curtains which seems to deal with Sea, Stone, Sand as elements of mans development and history. I am not too sure what the 'Ragged Curtains of the title (andn in fact album titles) are however (anyone care to enlighten me?)

This a wonderful long series of movements with a big rock based feel (except for the 'Sand' section which returns us to a more rustic and folk tinged performance). The opening is quite wonderful with its haunting vocal and keyboards section before the band arrive full on with a riff that would have made Jethro Tull proud! Andy Tillison (guesting from the Tangent) lends his synthesis wizardry to to piece mixing in swirls of synth white noise and wind fx to colour in the atmosphere. 'Sand' features Angela Gordon again,s this time on recorders plus there is some lovely acoustic guitar work. Not alot of praise comes Guys way as to his acoustic playing, but there are plenty of maestro moments on all the Manning albums.

The album 'Ebbs' way with a large symphonic arrangementn reminiscent of a 'Suppers Ready' feel (or the like)

What a ride! Another absolute winner as far as I am concerned with lots to get the listener into here. The players/band perform to the max from the very solid rhythm section of Jonathan MacDonald Binns of drums and Rick Ashton on the Bass up to Laura F., Gareth H. and Neil Harris (main keyboards player) The song writing, lyrics and melodies are top notch and the production is clear and crisp

What more could we ask for?

Topograph | 5/5 |

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