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Manning - The View From My Window CD (album) cover



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5 stars This is a fantastic album that is definately worth investigating. Strong songwriting throughout & excellent performances from both Guy & his band shine across all the songs. The hypnotic title track lingers in your head long after the CD has stopped spinning. This man gets better & better with every new release. Go on treat yourself, buy it now !!!
Report this review (#18428)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2003 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is full-blooded progressive rock and there's something for everyone on this album. You'll find more than a hint of Genesis-bred song-oriented neo-prog, but there are also huge passages of complex, multi-textured and multi-layered symphonic prog. Spin this CD and on the very first track you'll hear an interesting passage with a lead guitar and a saxophone trading solos - and you know this is going to be an interesting ride that will take more than one spin to fully appreciate.

Guy Manning featured on Parallel Or Ninety Degrees and on The Tangent's The Music That Died Alone, which has received favorable reviews across the prog spectrum. He has also released several albums under his own name - sometimes as "Guy Manning", sometimes just "Manning". The View From My Window is his most heavily-orchestrated album to date and has fewer pop or even neo elements than previous albums. It comprises five 6- to 9-minute songs, and a wonderful 20+ minute epic that you will want to play again and again.

The vocals have a rich mid-ranged timbre in the Ian Anderson mould, and sound good on "Suite : Dreams" and "After (The Tears In) The Rain". But the instrumentation is the attraction to this album. It is keyboard oriented, including classic mellotron, synth and hammond sounds. Besides the standard guitars, bass and drums, Manning also builds complex textures with a good variety of instruments including sax, fiddle, mandolin, recorder and richly sampled keys. This is a mature sound - this is prog for grown-ups.

The first 5 songs are good, but you could justify the purchase of this album on the merits of the 6th track alone. The epic "Suite : Dreams" starts with just piano and vocals, then it meanders through jazz, classical, fusion and symphonic progressive soundscapes in a fascinating, tightly composed piece that will sweep you away for the full 20 minutes.

We hope he has the right marketing mechanism in place to bring this album to the attention of the thousands of discerning listeners who will appreciate its quality. If so, the view from Guy Manning's window ought to be rosy indeed.

Report this review (#18430)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is full of great medolies and big arrangemtns! and also seems in fact more symphonic than alot of the previous Manning albums

Again, as before, this is different in tone and arrangement, feel and atmostphere to its predessors. This recurring 'change direction again' format works for me with these albums and makes of any new Manning album purchase a welcome surprise!

The album opener from the car sample racing up a hill to its end is a rocky up tempo number telling of a couple running away from some danger? It is done in a narrative observational way encooperating their conversations into the lyrics in order to make it a more intimate, eavesdropping and sinister vibe.

The world influnced sampled let titoe,mtrack is a thumping African-esque drum beat with a melody that hangs over the verses until the catchy and 'singalong' chorus arrives. The middle eight with its whistles and wind chimes fully exploit the multi-cultural aspects of the song lyrics. It provides a sort of 'view' of how West & East collide, seen I think, from a 3rd World perpective. A great song!

The Rut is a beat led track with an expansive 'orchestra led' middle section. A pulsing rhyhm is driven through the heart of this piece in a sort of 'Kashmir' type of way.

The next track appears to be a sequel to the 'Tears In The Rain' track on the now hard to find 'Cascade' album (or at last the title leads me to this conclusion). A more sobering acoustic led piece after the bombast of View an Rut. A lovely yet disturbing melodic piece

The first 'half' of this album is rounded off with a jazzy 'Blue Girl'. A mesmersing rhythmic track, it seems to deal with the girl (of the title) and her solitude after having gone through a number of relationships? Guy is able to sing this track in a softer and more personal way.

So to the big piece of the album Suite:Dreams (pun intended I think). A sprawling and magnificent journey through the world of Sleep, dreams and subconciousness. This features just about all the trick and tool in the Manning arsenal!

Soft passges with beautiful melodies, rocky riff driven sections, until instrumental solos galore! It is a 20 minute symphonic prog tour-de-force!! It encaspulates all that I love about this artist It is so varied and has so much to offer the listener. I think you'll be both surprised and thrilled by this one!

This is yet another highly recommended album.


Report this review (#162366)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Manning's 2003 contribution opens in absolutely breathless fashion, with the conviction and punch of "Phase". Manning and the band are firing on all cylinders here, and working with material that befits their efforts. The melody will stay in your head long after the fadeout. While some of his early material had tended to the quiet and reflective, perhaps too much so, this opener is a polar opposite. Where do we go from here?

The title cut is definitely more in his traditional style, but yet more lush and imposing. Another insistent tune, bolstered by strong percussion and synths. "The Rut" is the least interesting tune here, in an unwaveringly dirge-like bluesy vein. In contrast "Blue Girl" begins with a lite jazz feel that works far better, enhanced by sax and electric piano. Some striking lead guitar punctuates the piece.

As usual, the album's keynote is a lengthy suite, this one called "Dreams", and, while it has some interesting parts, it lacks a centerpiece, a presence that would make it the intended highlight of the disk. Nothing in it is as half as compelling as most of what precedes it on this album. So while this is another good effort from Manning, it is frustrating that he seems so capable of a masterpiece but won't deliver. One has to wonder if the window of opportunity is closing.

Report this review (#168844)
Posted Sunday, April 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 Stars Really. This is the only album I have heard by Manning and it is pretty good. The vocals strongly remind me of the Strawbs and some of the songs would fit right in on a Strawbs album. When I first picked up this album Mr. Manning was in the Prog Folk category on this site. He has since moved over to Eclectic Prog, but this album fits right into my definition of Prog Folk. There are some definite prog elements here but the overall mood still comes across as folky to me. Worth checking out. Just not quite enough to qualify as excellent in my books.
Report this review (#188054)
Posted Wednesday, November 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Guy Manning finally came of age.

After some very good albums in the years before this album, Guy Manning finally reached a standard he should be happy with. This is the same standard as Bilston House and Number 10. I do not know the albums between this album and Bilston so please forgive me if I in the review of A Matter Of Life And Death or any other albums says the same. But The View From My Window is of an excellent standard.

There are no outstanding bring-the-house-down track on this album. Just a stream of high quality music. But my only gripe with this album is the dot over the i. One or two outstanding tracks. So that is the negativity I have about this album.

So over to the objective and the positive stuff then. Right......... Guy Manning has left behind his let's-see-iff-reggae-or-metal-works-for-me phase and returned to what he can best and very few in UK does better than him: Good crafted melancholic songs. He thankfully keeps to this formula throughout this one hour long album.

The songs are both varied and full of interesting details. I am not sure of Manning is influenced by The Tangent or the other way round. But there are a lot of similarities. There is also a lot of references to Moody Blues, Bob Dylan, Beatles and Strawbs. All songs has their own identity and DNA profile. The View From My Window is indeed an album of songs and not musically a concept album. Lyric wise; maybe it is. I have forgotten to do my background research this time. Anyway; the songs are both varied and melancholic. The twenty minutes long Dreams has a lot of symphonic prog elements in it, although it is not in the same street as an ELP song. It is more subtle than that where it winds itself through various themes. The same can be said about the rest of the album too. The main instrument is tangents. But both guitars and saxophones works very well in their supporting roles. I think Guy Manning has extracted maximum value out of each songs here.

This is an album which requires a lot of time. I have spent six weeks on it. Not by constant listening though. I have given it some spins and then thought about it while listening to other bands. Then given it some more spins and repeated the same procedure. This album requires a lot of time. Maybe more time than a busy human being can afford. But given time; this is an excellent album. Guy Manning has done it again. A big thumbs up for the artwork, btw.

Best tracks is the title track and Dreams.

4 stars

Report this review (#239582)
Posted Wednesday, September 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars A long time ago I had this album in my hands but I can´t really remember if I did hear it at all (probably not, see below). Fortunatly I kept it until recently, when I found Manning´s masterpieces Songs From The Bilson House and Ten. So I decided to review some of his earlier stuff and View From My window was an easy pick. And I was really surprised how good it was! Ok, like all Guy Manning´s works, it will take some time to fully appreciate all the details of his work, but once you do, you´re hooked.

The album starts with the powerful Phase (the Opening & The Widening Sky). What a great track! It grabs you by the neck by the sheer force of its melody. Everything works on this song: delightful hooks, tasteful arrangement, inspired solos (including one amazing sax and guitar duel at the end) and a very convincing vocal delivering. If this tune was released in the 70´s it would sure be a strong cadidate for a top ten classic of that era. The following tracks are not that accessible, but are good anyway, proving that sameness is not one of Manning´s features. Again they all show him using all his and his band mates talents in full for the music. The arrangements are just perfectly crafted for each song. The bluesy The Rut may drag a little, but the hipnotic riffing works very well saving the day. After the Rain reminds of very early Jethro Tull, while Blue Girl is one of the most interesting ballads, featuring some great jazz and soul overtones.

Of course the centerpiece of the CD is the 20 minute Suite: Dreams. Divided in 8 small parts, this is his most progressive work in the entire disc. And a very inspired and strong one, I should say. The melody lines are just amazing and all the musicians show their skill throughtout the entire epic. In fact it seems like something that could have been on Ten or SFTBH: Everyhting works here flawlessly, with some fantastic symphonic keyboards, orchestrations and Manning´s emotional vocals reaching a new level on the top of it. Another sure case of a song that is worth the price of the CD! I jusut keep pushing the repeat button of my CD plyer over and over when I hear it.

Conclusion: an excellent work by one of the most talented (and unfortunatly still not very well known) prog artists of our time. Definitly one CD to look for, specially if you like strong and varied songwriting, terrific players and arrangements that near perfection. Not much noodling here, just a case of everything working for the songs. Rating: 4 stars. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#239778)
Posted Thursday, September 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars So Guy is back with his fifth album, and yet again I am amazed at just how powerful his songs can be. If ever there was a modern songwriter and performer who was trying to pick up on the electric side of Richard Thompson then it has to be him, and opening song "Phase (The Open & The Widening Sky)" reinforces that idea. It is powerful and commercial, yet has a strong guitar line throughout just behind the vocals, or sometimes replacing them. But this album appears to be deeper, with more influences, more darkness, than before. Play the introduction to the title cut and you could be forgiven for wondering what on earth you were listening to, as many musical styles come together in a bazaar. But the guitar cuts through everything like a shining ray of light, before giving way to acoustic strumming and the feeling that Guy has turned his attention to one of our great eccentrics, Roy Harper. The keyboards are much more delicate at this point, with the focus very much on the vocals.

The major opus of the album is called simply "Suite:Dreams", and is over twenty minutes long, which allows Guy to run through many emotions and styles. Possibly the most powerful is when he is just accompanied by piano and some seeping keyboards in the background. It may be simple, but is effective. This gives way to some lounge style noodlings before again being moved into something more dramatic and moving, almost as if the listener is bursting into the sunlight.

In some ways Guy is the least progressive act on Malcolm's label, yet in others he is the most as he crosses boundaries and performs music that wouldn't normally have that tag. Again this is a wonderful piece of work that I recommend whole heartedly.

Originally appeared in Feedback #78, April 2004

Report this review (#1005078)
Posted Thursday, July 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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