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Phil Manzanera - 50 Minutes Later CD (album) cover


Phil Manzanera


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3.55 | 20 ratings

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4 stars It's been a long time since an album could enlighten my day the way like this one does. One year to be more specific, when "6pm", the previous Manzanera record, was released. It seems "50 minutes." and "6pm" were recorded during the same recording sessions, they're very much alike and they are meant to be cause the title is referring to the 50 minutes that it takes to listen to 6pm before you put this album on. Although there's some minor differences. On this album the song writing is more important which possibly could make it less interesting for listeners of progressive rock. On other solo efforts with vocals, it was obvious Manzanera tried to reach the same quality level of song writing as Roxy Music but most of the time, even with the support of Andy MacKay, he failed. But here, the song writing is top notch. Especially the melodies throughout the album are magnificent. This doesn't mean the music is similar to Roxy Music. Only the great song "Technicolor ufo" has some resemblances with RM due to the guitar parts, the wonderful chorus, the female backing vocalists and also there's one Paul Thompson on the drums on most of the tracks of this album. This is a powerful track that recaptures the moods of the psychedelic pop music at the end of the sixties. As it is combined with a modern arrangement & production techniques it doesn't sound outdated. Obviously this is related to the second track on the previous "6pm" album.

"Revolution" is another up-tempo track to include a wall of acoustic & electric guitar chords & space effects. Especially the pompous chorus section has a splendid melody with the guitar chords at the fore. From the vocal front, there's some similarities between the voice of Manzanera's & the vocals of David Gilmour but sometimes Manzanera's voice is sounding a bit flat. The same thing could be heard on a calm, popish track like "That's all I know". But these complaints are just minor. It doesn't spoil the fun of this record.

There's plenty of interesting elements to be found in the elaborate arrangements. There's some fabulous guitar parts but also take notice of the lush keyboards provided by Brian Eno & Robert Wyatt, the beautiful piano parts & the South American influences on a track like "Despararecido". This mysterious sounding track includes some tango melodies played on the accordion at the beginning & the end. Both this song, the title track and the tiny instrumental "Dusza" should be listened at in one listening experience because of the many returning elements. "50 minutos mas tarde" is a beautiful piano based song and was co-written with Wyatt & Eno. Its laid back atmosphere comes close to the sound of the latest Wyatt release. The guitar lines in "One step" on the other hand are very similar to the later work of Pink Floyd or Camel. This atmospheric song shows a dreamy mood due to the floating keyboards in the back and the slow rhythm and psychedelic guitar. Lovely ! "Bible black" is a hypnotic track which includes the sound of a mellotron. This is another song that has an exotic flavour although I can't point out which instruments caused that. There's a longer version of this song included as a bonus track. It seems that version got an Enotronic treatment from Brian Eno and although little has been changed to the first part of the song, the second part includes additional space guitar & sax parts from fellow RM member Andy MacKay. If someone told me this was a new song of Porcupine Tree, I would believe it.

Conclusion : Being rather a modern rock record with progressive leanings than real progressive rock, for me "50 minutes later" included the most inspired melodies of 2005. The sound is very diverse due to the wide range of influences. Latin music, psychedelic & progressive rock or mainstream rock, this album has it all. The sound of the album is pretty organic when compared to other Manzanera records ; fortunately keyboards have only been used to sound like.keyboards. The production is astonishing but this may not be a surprise as we all know the capabilities of sound magicians like Eno, Wyatt or Manzanera himself. Moreover, the music on this album is very uplifting. It enables you to dream shamelessly.

Fishy | 4/5 |


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