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Manning - The Cure CD (album) cover



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5 stars The album: The previous album "Tall Stories For Small Children" yielded a combination of folky Singer-songwriter music and symphonic rock. On this album the balance is quite a bit more to the symphonic rock side with extensive tracks such the opener "Domicile". Softly brimming organs, a humming singer, orchestral voices and effective percussion make for an opening that has both good atmosphere as well as being interesting musically with some catchy themes. Manning's own sharp guitar playing leads up to the vocal part. Manning has a very pleasant melodic voice, very English, somewhat in the style of guys like Roy Harper and yes also with a tinge of Ian Anderson. A very distinctive voice.

In the middle we have an organ solo that might remind some of that related band Parallel Or 90 Degrees (some people, like myself, thought that he had become in fact a member of said band, but that is not that case) followed by hammering piano solo. In some places the drums sound a bit mechanic, so it might be that not all drumming is live. On the whole a very "electronic" sounding rock track compared to the songs on the predecessor.

The second part of the album consists of five tracks, of which "Real Life" is the first and shortest. Compared to the first track it is an oasis of peace and quiet, with soft vocals, subtle keyboard playing and some cosmic sounds in the back. A bit of a lullabye. "A Strange Place" is next up and this is different once again. The music is mid-tempo, a bit bouncy with some folky leanings with prominent bass work and a focus on the vocal part, which is melodic, clear and somewhat loud. Orchestral keyboards in the middle of this one, take this impression away again. The song ends with waves upon a shore and some sampled voices in world music style (including church music). "Whispers On The Wire" is one of the most distinctive tracks, because of the repeated Click Click, which has a Genesis sound in the organ work. It's not just the Click Click, but the vocal melody accompanying sticks easily to one's mind. The final part of the track features some meandering guitar soloing and some groovy organ playing. Most notably however are the very sharp keyboards, slightly before. We are not the end right then, because the music falls away almost entirely then but the song hasn't finished. Like in the previous track it is time for some experimental sounds on a tablas ticking and later

on the violins join in. This part refers back mostly to contemporary film music (but when the rest falls awat I'm reminded of Peter Hammills' "Fall Of The House Of Usher"), something encountered more and more in progressive rock these days. "Songs Of Faith" is with over eleven minutes the next major track. Astronaut time on this track, and we open with spoken voices introducing the story of the astronaut in trouble. The vocals of Manning are very sad here, giving me goosebumps. A melancholy track. After some relaxed piano and violin take over we come to the part of the patient and the click click returns with some more symphonic arrangements such as loud keyboards and a wailing guitar solo. The song ends quietly with a softly crying bass. A very good track.

"Falling" is the penultimate track and it opens a bit mellowly. Later on the violin and the sax come back in. Another reference I might mention here (and it holds quite generally for the music of Guy Manning) is Strawbs in their more definitely progressive time. In a way Mannings voice is as distinctive as that of David Cousins.

The final multi-sectioned track "The Cure" is by far the longest. Opening slowly with keyboards the first part is called "Dawn". We move then into an organ dominated part with some cutting guitar work in between and some sax as well. In "Hello Dr. Strange", I'm reminded of Supertramp in their old days (the vocals of the Doctor). "A Dream" and whatever comes after is quite spacey, but continuing the orchestral sound. People might be reminded a bit of Tangerine Dream here. Some of the samples here are downright hard on the ears (the bees for instance). From then on the music starts to wind down with some Steve Hackett-ish guitar work, acoustic guitars in the accompaniment and cosmic keyboards in the back. After a bang the Epilogue closes it all down.

Conclusion: I like this concept album. It is certainly worth your attention. In some cases I think the sound is a bit too cold (those drums again, some of the percussion sounds warmer) and sometimes the music could be a bit more concise. The vocals I really like a lot, Manning has a flexible, interesting voice. Compared to the previous album the music is more varied, more "prog" and there are some memorable melodies on here ("Whisper On The Wire"). In some cases the performance gives the music something extra (goosebumps in the opening of "Songs Of Faith"). At first this album seems louder and less singer-songwriter directed as the previous album, but the album does have its share of quieter moments ("Falling", "Real Life"), but in a way there are always aspects that make the track sound less ordinary. In many places a more orchestral approach is taken (e.g. "The Cure").

Report this review (#4757)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Of the Manning issues I have heard, this is my favourite. While at times he can wax a bit overly sentimental and literal in his lyrics, and alternate uncomfortably between harder and softer styles, this is rarely a problem on "The Cure". This album sounds more like a group effort too, which is usually a plus even for an album by a solo artist - that is, the accompanying instrumentalists sound like they are more than just guests. This is not to take anything away from Manning himself who handles a variety of tasks including fretted instruments, percussion, songwriting, and impassioned but not overemotive vocals. It is folk based but also much too "big" in the production and instrumentation to really be considered a folk album by any stretch.

The album absolutely explodes out of the gate with "Domicile", which is everything I could want in a progressive "song". It's very symphonic and features cutting lyrics about the havoc wreaked by mankind on the planet, yet it does not sound preachy at all. I'm too busy enjoying the arrangements to get depressed by it either. On "A Strange Place", we are treated to a ballad with magnificent strings. "Whispers on the Wire" incorporates Doors and Moody Blues influences into something quite energetic and unique. "Songs of Faith" is a paean to the difficult Apollo 13 flight with a suitably languid mood. The violins and piano combinations in the instrumental breaks are especially appealing. "Falling" is another fine ballad augmented by sax. The title cut is overly ambitious 17 minutes and falls into some of the patterns that would become more common in his later work, such as coming across as a set of insufficiently related pastiches, although the "Hello Dr Strange" segment is pretty impressive taken on its own, thanks to a fine melody and arrangements.

While it might not be everything for what ails you, "The Cure", like a generous helping of chicken soup, will probably help a lot and certainly won't hurt.

Report this review (#145449)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars The debut album was so well received that Guy Manning became Manning the band, and Guy, Andy, Jonathan and Simon went back into the studio. This time they were joined by Laura Fowles on sax, and Ian Tothill and Iain Fairbairn on violin. In many ways, this album is much deeper than the debut, and is far more intense. Again, they are harkening back to Floyd, but also Genesis and VDGG. There are long instrumental passages with some great guitar and keyboard interplay. It is not as immediate as the debut, but given time is the more rewarding.

Feedback #59, July 2000

Report this review (#145892)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent development !

While the debut album was in the singer/songwriter mould, Manning ditches his first name and goes as a band. The result is less Bob Dylan and more Genesis. The opening track Domicile removes all doubts. This is sophisticated symphonic prog. A superb ten minutes long song which winds itself through some themes. A slight VDGG connection with the saxophone does not hurt the song. Manning got himself another winner in that song ! The rest of the material is the staple diet of folk prog, symphonic prog and eastern music.

The songs are never dull. Although not everything here is gold-dust, the songs comes across as refined and intelligent design. Although being a concept album, the songs are very varied in style. From the darkened depts of A Strange Place to the slighter happier... actually, the rest of the songs. This is indeed a moody, dark album. More than his first album and his last two albums (which at the time of writing is my only reference points). The style is always epic with some references to great bands like Doors, Strawbs, Beatles and Moody Blues. The elleven minutes long Songs Of Faith is an epic tribute to the Apollo 13 space mission. It is a very moving and excellent epic song. The seventeen minutes long title track has some electronica I do not care too much about. But most of that song actually works, I have to admit. Mostly everything on this album works and it is one of the few albums I will enjoy in the coming months, years and decades.

This is an excellent album which should put Manning up there among the best prog rock artists. As simple as that.

4.25 stars

Report this review (#221661)
Posted Thursday, June 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Guy Manning is a person I have a lot of respect for. He plays so many different instruments and writes great songs and always has interesting concept albums. It's his Folk side that i'm not into but that's just me and my particular taste in music. Considering his last two albums are his best yet shows he's just getting better with age."The Cure" was his second album and he offers up a variety of styles here and it's much proggier than his debut.

"Domicile" opens with strummed guitar, vocal melodies and organ before kicking in briefly. Flute and aboe then take over when it settles. It continues to change frequently. This is a feel good song for me. Sax after 6 minutes. Great tune. "Real Life" opens with samples before almost spoken vocals take over. "A Strange Place" opens with brief samples as the music kicks in. Vocals and percussion lead before a minute. Orchestral-like 3 1/2 minutes in then aboe arrives as it settles. The female vocal melodies are cool after 5 1/2 minutes. "Whispers On The Wire" features some good sounding keyboards with vocals, guitar and drums standing out. I like the electric guitar later.

"Songs Of Faith" opens with samples for about a minute before reserved vocals with acoustic guitar takes over. The vocals get fairly expressive at times. Some floating organ and I like the electric guitar 3 minutes in. Is that a fiddle after 6 minutes ? "Falling" is a song I like a lot from 3 1/2 minutes in on, especially the sax before 4 1/2 minutes. "The Cure" is the 17 1/2 minute closer. All seems well early with the birds chirping but check out the creepy section around 12 minutes and to end it. I like the sampled mellotron and atmosphere on this track.

3.5 stars.

Report this review (#280544)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Next album by Guy Manning came under the title ''The cure'', apparently a concept release divided in three themes, but this time he removed his first name, propably to indicate that the gathering of musicians around him worked as a proper group.The line-up of Manning/Tilson/Barrett/Baskind is now supported by talented female sax player Laura Fowles and two experienced violin players, Ian Tothill and Iain Fairbairn.The album was recorded in two studios, The Burnside in Leeds and The MBL Heron Garth in Burley-in-Wharefedale, and it was completely written by Manning apart from the opening piece, which was co-written by Tilson.Cyclops was again the distributor.

The opening theme ''Syndrome'', consists of only one track, the 10-min. ''Domicile'', which sounds like the emerging THE TANGENT, a mix of old-fashioned Prog stylings, fronted by symphonic textures in the vein of GENESIS and YES with a good bunch of Canterbury-styled piano and organ and some attacking VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR-like saxes, a real winner.The following 36 minutes composed the second theme ''Therapy'', split in five cuts.Here the assault of Manning in vintage Prog moves continues, even if the contemporary sound is quite evident.Some keyboard parts are a bit pale and flat, but the arrangements are pretty cool with nods to SPOCK'S BEARD and a nice Canterbury contribution in the organ parts.Lots of angular synthesizers and dual keyboard runs, a fair amount of acoustic interludes, beautiful breaks into keyboard-led ambiences and impressive guitar exercises with both melodic solos and jazzy chords.CAMEL, GENESIS and NATIONAL HEALTH are among the bands to spring to mind during this theme, which provides lots of room for instrumental variety and some surprising British Folk tunes via the use of violins.Closing theme ''Prognosis'' is built around the 17-min. title-track and you should propably expect a true grandieur for the album's outro.But this is not the case here, ''The cure'' appears to be the most uneven piece of this work.It is not bad at all, but it seems to be more down-to-earth material compared to the previously displayed stuff.Basically a long Neo/Symphonic Prog piece with smooth singing parts, big symphonic keyboards and emphatic instrumental moves with synthesizers and organ in evidence along with loose guitar plays, passing both through cinematic and bombastic textures and even some sound effects in the process creating dreamy soundscapes, but the farewell minutes are rather minimalistic and secure, based on electronics and some nervous but fake synthesizers, only saved by a great Mellotron washing.

While ''The cure'' is not totally convincing, it shows a talented artist developing its composing level within the progressive borders.Production is also a bit restrained, but the music quality is usually great and sufficient.Pretty cool and warmly recommended Prog Rock.

Report this review (#1181692)
Posted Sunday, June 1, 2014 | Review Permalink

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