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BURNSIDE - THE SAMPLER

Manning

Eclectic Prog


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3 stars MANNING is a very interesting band from England run by GUY MANNING. He is also involved in THE TANGENT and that's how I learnt about MANNING. I then was and probably still is a fan of THE TANGENT. Hence, I bought his albums from various sources. I believe I have got all his ten albums, although both my maths and the no-mans land chaos in both my living room and my office means that the CDs is scattered all over the place.

I have so far only had time to listen to his debut album and his two last albums. His last album Number Ten is brilliant. The two others are also very good. In my view, MANNING is an interesting act which operates somewhere in the landscape between symphonic epic prog and folk rock (like STRAWBS). Add a dosage of THE BEATLES too and you will get MANNING.

The epic opening track Last Psalm is alone worth the free download. The rest of the songs are very good too. I do not like everything here. But there is nothing here I find dull or meaningless. GUY MANNING's music always engage his listeners in a conversation. Somehow, somewhere.

The compilation also include a couple of unreleased tracks. I am not a fan of compilations or best-off albums. But this is a good download. Nevermind my rather meaningless three stars rating. Download this album from his homepage and make up your own mind.

3 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#219243)
Posted Monday, June 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars No, not the Tangent!

As far as my memory does not deceive me, this sampler has been re-issued at least twice (!!!). I remember seeing it online in 2004 with 6 or 7 tracks, then in 2006 with 3 extra tracks (or so) and now in 2009 with 12 compositions. It is unsure that this sampler is, at the moment of writing these lines, available in Manning's website but you could give it a try yourself and discover it.

The 2009 sampler version then includes tracks from all Manning's personal works - an amazing number of 10 releases in 10 years. Namely: The Last Psalm from Tall Stories for Small Children (1999 - debut album), A Place to Hide from The Ragged Curtain (2002), Owing Up, Flight 19 from Cascade (2001), A Strange Place from The Cure (2000), the title track from The View from my Window (2003), In Swingtime, Night Voices from One Small Step (2005), The Dream from A Matter of Life and Death (2004), Margaret Montgomery (1581-???) from Anser's Tree (2006), Lost in Play from Songs from the Bilston house (2008) and Ships from the latest release Number Ten (2009).

This compilation consists of more than 80 minutes of Manning's music and might give you a good idea of what the band's music is all about. The most characteristic feature of the band's style is definitely the warm, lyrical voice of Guy Manning. While resembling slightly to those of Roger Waters and Neal Morse, it maintains it's own personality. The sound quality of the first 7 tracks in this compilation is not the best and does not assist in revealing the music itself. Some tracks are interestingly different from one another, revealing influences from classic rock, rock 'n roll, folk, eclectic and mainly later era Pink Floyd.

The Last Psalm (the longest track) that opens this compilation is a very warm slow-mid tempo composition that strongly resembles to characteristic Floyd tunes of the 70's and 90's. The next four tracks flow in a similar ballad-like manner with several short, clever flute and violin solos that break the monotony. The View from my Window introduces some new oriental and folk sounds with a very melodic refrain - characteristic of the band's sound - but still remains in the same style with the previous tracks. In Swingtime is a bit of a surprise with its 'lounge' rock 'n roll/blues tunes and a very interesting variation with Manning singing in a bluesy way. Overall, there is a feeling of ''lounge-prog'' and a suspicion of a Chris Rea influence...

The second set of tracks (8-12) is in much better audio quality and more adventurous composition-wise. While the first 7 were based on a slow, almost lethargic atmosphere, the new elements of folk and more lively singing (ala Ian Anderson) in the Dream and Margaret Montgomery wake up the listener. Night Voices, as the title suggests, is a ''romantic'' tune, beautifully sung with an accompanying female voice in the refrain. While not being fast, Lost in Play and Ships that conclude the album, are much more dynamic tunes, the former including keyboard solos and some flute/bass adventurous playing and the latter reminding of the fusion/jazz preferences of The Tangent.

I believe the second part will appeal more to prog fans without implying that the first does not sound attractive enough. Strangely, excluding the latter track, there are not many common elements with The Tangent. On the contrary, Manning's approach in his personal band seems to be closer to Floyd and generally more ''lounge'' or relaxed. The whole compilation sounds very pleasant and there are no real weak moments whatsoever. Sadly, I can't say if this is representative of Manning's overall sound as a 'best of' compilation, but definitely a motive to discover more of his music (at least for me).

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Send comments to aapatsos (BETA) | Report this review (#243354)
Posted Tuesday, October 06, 2009 | Review Permalink

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