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Phil Manzanera - K-Scope CD (album) cover


Phil Manzanera


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3.40 | 28 ratings

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4 stars Phil Manzanera is rightly considered as one of the greatest rock guitarists, up there with all the legends mostly for his prog-related work with Roxy Music, a band that was so original in a period when style was a jean-dripping world of "basse-couture" and where new sounds were constantly brewing. Brief footnote: Bryan Ferry actually auditioned and was rejected for the King Crimson vocalist slot before kicking off Roxy whose first album was produced by Peter Sinfield! Formentera Lady with Ferry crooning would be somewhat Bee Zarrr! Anyway, Manzanera was the fretman/frontman for Quiet Sun, whose Mainstream album was universally greeted with applause, even though the music was completely in the heavy Soft Machine exploratory style that rejected commercialism with snobby aplomb. If Manzanera requires some more prog pedigree (he later co-wrote a few Pink Floyd tunes with a guy called David Gilmour), one will notice that he produced the spellbinding first Split Enz album, the quirky "Mental Notes" to the utter puzzlement of the rock world! But if you demand PROG proof, well "K- Scope" was recorded over a period of 8 weeks in Chris Squire's home studio, with gold and platinum discs decorating the walls! Besides Kiwis Tim and Neil Finn (later to become the immensely popular Crowded House) and the amazing keyboardist Eddie Rayner, this album also contains such prog stalwarts as Mel Collins (yeah! That sax!), former Quiet Sun, 801, Matching Mole and Random Hold superburp bassist Ian McCormick and the inimitable Simon Phillips on drums whose credits are about 2 kilometers long! Roxy pals Andy Mackay, John Wetton (toured with Roxy after KC and before his Uriah Heep gig) and the incredible Paul Thompson make stellar contributions, as well as Kevin Godley and Lol Crème of 10CC fame. Finally Francis Monkman of Curved Air and Sky makes a brief cameo. Most of these fine musicians also appeared on the previous Manzanera/801 "Listen Now" album. A fine record this is with the mental instrumental title track kicking the proceedings into nervy gear, Manzanera's Farfisa organ as much a highlight as his swerving guitar work. "Remote Control" is a brief but subsonic punko-prog tune that is speed incarnate with Tim Finn's demented vocals zipping along uncontrolled (remotely or otherwise). When he sings "Still itching for the great panacea", you realize this is absolutely insayne, mayte! Offering the polar opposite in terms of velocity, "Cuban Crisis" is reggae-prog with a Latin tinge that is a sloooow burn, bass heavy and snip-snap drum rhythm, aided and abetted by Rayner's upright piano funkying up the mood, the spotlight on Tim Finn's sweaty bluesy delivery that verges on perfection "Run run run run". "Hot Spot" keeps the heat squarely on the manic beat, this time conducted by that wacked out Collins saxophone, delirious as usual, tortuously morphing into a disco beat (similar to Love is the Drug") but weirder , as "The neon radiation makes your body glow". A schizophrenic guitar solo closes out this little gem which is not what it appears to be. "Numbers" is John Wetton 's turn to shine, both vocally and lyrically by including references to King Crimson and Roxy Music classics ("CP8 5938") with Phillips drums ripping along and Manzanera flipping another understated six string jewel. "Slow Motion TV" is a return to quirky prog-pop that is totally noncommercial, closer to 10cc than anything else in Popland. "Gone Flying" is the guitarist displaying (by his own words)"nifty" chords both on rhythm and lead guitars, creating distinctive sounds and colorations as opposed to the standard soloing prevalent in those days, with some exemplary work by Simon on drums and neat vocals and bass by Bill McCormick . "N-Shift" is another sentimental instrumental with Phil's experimental, non regimental string bending style (are there enough insanities here do you think?), a groovy jam that is a pure delight to any prog lover out there (or in here, for that matter). The best track here and the proverbial cherry "Walking Through Heaven's Door" is a prog master track, again featuring Collins, and after a dreamy almost Canterbury like intro, the menacing bass of Wetton takes this smoky sucker into some murky undertows that grows like a creepy vine, slithering mercilessly until morphing into a third section that explodes all over the speakers, the title repeated over and over like hallucigenic dementia. The original album ended on the Manzanera one man show "You Are Here" where our friend weaves a rich tapestry with Andalucian themes mixed with various Yamaha CS80 atmospherics that stamp his prog visa for life. The bonus tracks on the reissue offers a raunchy live longer version of Remote Control with a randy Andy Mackay sax solo and a simply philthy Phil lead, lewdly better than the studio version, then a short demo version of "Slow Motion TV" called "It Doesn't Matter to Me" but turns out really sloppier than the final studio version but shows how musicians mould their compositions from rough to shiny and "finalement", Roxy's famous "Out of the Blue" that quite obviously cannot reproduce Ferry's smooth voice but offers a good Manzanera solo as well as some fine oboe work from Mackay. "K-Scope" may not necessarily be everyone's cup of tea but please bear in mind that this was created in 1977, the year the Sex Pistols reared their very ugly (and I do mean ugly) heads and altered the musical horizons only temporarily (for their limited talent could only last as long as the three chords they had learned). This remains fresh and vibrant today and comes recommended to those for whom audacity is a prime quality. 4.5 K marts
tszirmay | 4/5 |


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