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Manning A Matter Of Life & Death (The Journal Of Abel Mann) album cover
4.02 | 71 ratings | 11 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Dream (7:00)
2. Nobody's Fool (5:11)
3. Omens (5:26)
4. The River Of Time (6:36)
5. Silent Man (4:13)
6. Falling Down? Rising Up! (7:56)
7. Life's Disguises (3:25)
8. Out Of My Life (8:49)
9. Midnight Sail (5:18)

Total Time: 53:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Guy Manning / 6- & 12-string acoustic, Classical and electric guitars, keyboards, bass, mandolin, drums, percussion, vocals, arranger

- Gareth Harwood / guitar, vocals
- Andy Tillison / Moog solo (1), keyboards (9)
- Neil Harris / melodica, modal piano (6), vocals
- Ian Fairbairn / fiddle (1,5)
- Tim Moon / cello (1)
- Laura Fowles / sax, vocals
- Rick Ashton / bass, vocals
- John Tipping / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Ed Unitsky

CD ProgRock Records ‎- PRR 138 (2004, UK)

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and to Quinino for the last updates
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MANNING A Matter Of Life & Death (The Journal Of Abel Mann) ratings distribution

(71 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

MANNING A Matter Of Life & Death (The Journal Of Abel Mann) reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the kind of music that relies in itself on acoustic rhythm section with acoustic guitar as main contributor, accompanying a powerful vocal in the vein of Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull). Of course, the music style is different as this album has practically no exploration of flute but it uses acoustic guitar and piano for fills, melody as well as music interlude. From the beginning of the album, the listeners will be impressed with the uplifting, energetic progressive folk rock music through "The Dream" which flows beautifully. Acoustic guitar serves as main rhythm section coupled with drums, bass to accompany energetic singing style. The groove of the music is also nice and it makes you bang your head (not in a metal way, of course) as the music bring you forward. I especially like the accentuated singing style.

"Nobody's Fool" starts beautifully with a stunning acoustic guitar fills that reminds me (a bit) to Deep Purple's "Soldier of Fortune" accentuated with beautiful string section. The vocal enters the music wonderfully in powerful low register notes. It's really catchy on the opening part as the music flows peacefully - especially with great singing and acoustic guitar fills among music segments. I consider this as an excellent track especially on the stunning acoustic guitar solo at approx minute 2:40 onwards, combined beautifully with catchy string arrangements.

"Omens" brings the music into more uplifting style with stunning electric guitar solo at opening followed with vocal in the vein of Ian Anderson's singing. Again, the nice string section arrangements contribute significantly to the beauty of this track. "The River of Time" brings the music into cooler fashion with relatively slow tempo music accompanying vocal and female backing vocal (choirs). "Silent Man" starts with grandiose string arrangement followed with violin work just before the vocal enters in uplifting mode. The cello / violin solo at approx min 2:30 is stunning - even though it does not last quite long.

"Falling Down? Rising Up!" is motivational in nature (if we are looking at the title of this track). The music is really nice with a killing piano work during intro followed by accentuated vocal section in uplifting mood. The lyrical parts saying that "falling down" should not be allowed anymore. As I expect .. this is a positive word about how to overcome life obstacles and challenges. The composition is excellent especially on the way the string section strengthen the music plus the stunning piano work followed with soprano sax improvisation. The song turns into avant-garde style and this part I like it very much. Manning really explores his musical talent into avant-garde style inserted in the middle of this track.

"Out of My Life" is like an epic because the duration is 8:49 minutes with changing styles and tempo during the course of the track. Manning makes the music flows in nice passages blending the sounds of keyboard, acoustic guitar, sax into nice composition, giving a chance for keyboard to perform nice solo at the later part of the track followed by sax solo. The concluding track "Midnight Sail" serves like a cheer-up of the album as the music is upbeat style in happy setting.

Overall, this is a very good album for those who love progressive folk style even though this album can be enjoyed by vast majority of people who love music, not necessary prog. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars No one seems to have noticed but Guy Manning has very quietly put together a consistent discography, by releasing quality albums year after year that have generated seemingly superlative comments. I guess the PA reviewers are all fans, which is inherently what one is looking for in terms of justified opinion anyway. From his opening solo album back in 1999, his work with Parallel or 90 Degrees and The Tangent, Guy has clearly proven that he is a major progressive force that deserves even more recognition. There are a few characteristics that make him such a compelling raconteur-troubadour, consolidating the fine British folk-rock tradition of musical storytelling (The Strawbs, Al Stewart, early Chris DeBurgh, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Roy Harper, John Martyn, Jethro Tull and Led Zep's folkier side, early Roxy Music etc.). Firstly, he is a creative songwriter, lovingly molding fables with fantasies, owner of a distinctive voice that resonates with credibility (in my opinion somewhat similar to Dave Cousins), master of a multitude of instruments from mandolin to acoustic and electric guitars, seemingly expert on a variety of keyboards and bass, plus he can bash a good drum too. He also likes to throw in an occasional kitchen sink (new category: singer/songwriter/plumber). Secondly, the sound is stellar in terms of clarity and atmosphere: the listener always has the impression that he is among a select audience in a small pub, witness to a very personal almost intimate concert. Thirdly, the artwork is supremely enchanting (Ed Udetsky is hands down the next Roger Dean) and packaging is always first rate. All Manning albums are excellent, not one dud in the pile, so we are definitely in the presence of a special artist. "A Matter of Life and Death" is a prime example of his craft, perhaps even one of his best with some simply scintillating material, starting off with "The Dream", a vibrantly moody opener that projects forcefully a beautifully rich melody, featuring superb sax from Laura Fowles, a primo Moog solo from Andy Tillison and some amazing keys and astute vocals from Guy. "Nobody's Fool" showcases some gentle, even somber themes, strings, acoustic guitar and serene orchestrations, achingly resonant vocals from Monsieur Manning, who has one of those golden voices that one dreams about on those silly Idol shows. Rich, delicate, evocative and oh so expressive, with meaningful lyrics that highlight and adorn the message "Don't Lock your life away, waiting for another days bloom, be somebody's fool", another gentle sax breeze on the way through the door. "Omens" is more up-tempo, with a biting guitar from Gareth Harwood (?) theme that really hits the mark, Guy evoking a distant emotion that exudes deep conviction, "I'm down on my luck again" repeated regularly, a fascinating track that is a real "Keeper". Bluesy guitar outro, applause! "The River of Time" is a mesmerizing piece with stunning female backing vocals, verdant orchestrations and luxuriant atmospheres , with a vocal that winks solidly towards Anderson Tull (high praise) , gently flowing with serene complicity and utter symphonic restraint. Some beautifully ornate piano work adds even more elegance to the endless mood. "Silent Man" is typical of the Manning style, storytelling craftsman with folky overtones, handclaps and an almost Celtic/Irish sing-along feel, replete with a little fiddle from Ian Fairbairn. "Falling Down? Rising Up!" is bravado time, a melancholic outcry where despair duels with hope, the eternal fight to survive the personal battles that make life somewhat difficult at times, with Guy supplying a vision of defiance and courage to "rise up " from the pain. Inspirational music is so rare today; lucky we are to have some fabulous jazzy instrumental breaks to uplift the soul, replete with groovy bass, choppy piano, marshalling drums, swirling organ and that sensual saxophone. "Life Disguises" is a short painful expression of grief that stays simple and fragile, with Guy showing off a little lisp on the repeated use of "Dithguises" (sic), here sounding so much like Cousins, its almost uncanny. "Out of my Life" is the whopping epic, clocking in over 8 minutes, with the bold sax leading the way, Guy's impassioned delivery charming sincerely, while the piano, the sax and the guitars almost remind of early Roxy Music but as the chorus blasts the praise of phrase, the gentleness of the wailing saxophone returns to haunt the spirit. Lyrically, Guy gets angry ("I leave the rotting carcass of my madness in the past") and the extended instrumental blowout feature "tour a tour" driving organ, a series of whistling synthesizer solos and some furiously bold sax forays that rekindle the spirit of Roxy's Andy Mackay (Both Ends Burning). The album bows out with "Midnight Sail", a rabble rousing almost pop song that is immediately ear-friendly with slight hints at "Goodbye Yellow Brick" era Elton John. Wobbly synth solo and honky-tonk piano and some more horny blowing from Laura. Nothing like some good sax before bedtime, Guy... 4.5 Abel Manns
Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars As I write this review Guy manning has put out 10 studio albums so far and this particular one is his sixth. This man is very talented both in his playing and song writing, and as usual he has offered up another concept album. I must admit I much prefer the other projects he has been involved with in THE TANGENT and PARALLEL OR 90 DEGREES but that's just my particular taste in music.

"The Dream" is such a good song to start off with. Strings before it kicks in and those strings will come and go throughout. Vocals after a minute. Such an uplifting track. Fiddle comes and goes as well. Electric guitar 3 minutes in. Sax is crying out before 4 minutes. Check out Andy Tillison's moog solo after 5 minutes. The sound of waves ends it. "Nobody's Fool" is melancholic as reserved vocals arrive. Mandolin is picked during the instrumental break. "Omens" opens with strummed guitar and drums before the electric guitar takes the spotlight. Vocals follow. Some organ runs then the guitar returns. Themes are repeated. It's an okay song.

"The River Of Time" features some female backing vocals as sounds echo early on. I like the synths before 1 1/2 minutes. Piano before 3 1/2 minutes leads. "Silent Man" has this catchy rhythm and lots of cello. Some clapping too. "Falling Down ? Rising Up !" is a sad sounding tune with piano. Strings 1 1/2 minutes in. A change in the mood 3 1/2 minutes in as piano and bass start to lead. Sax follows then organ followed by upbeat vocals. "Life's Disguises" is led by acoustic guitar and vocals. A mellow and reflective tune. "Out Of My Life" is my favourite. This song just makes me feel so good. Sax and drums to open as vocals and organ join in. Great sound especially after 5 minutes as the drums and organ lead. Sax is back later. "Midnight Sail" is my least favourite coincidently. An uptempo conclusion to this concept album.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I am continuing my journey through Guy Manning's albums. His previous album The View From My Window was a pretty coherent output. And so is A Matter Of Life & Death (The Journal of Abel Mann). But he has taken a slightly different route this time. This album is his darkest album so far. It is ... (read more)

Report this review (#242509) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, October 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Guy Manning is an artist who caught my attention by being one of the founding (and current) members of The Tangent. Since I love that band, I started looking into Guy's output and dipped my toe into the water with this disk, A Matter of Life and Death. Guy is listed here under Eclectic but was ... (read more)

Report this review (#182202) | Posted by johnobvious | Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars DEFINITELY HIS BEST TO DATE!! Guy is a very talented multi-instrumentalist with a wonderfully folky vocal delivery/folky style. He also plays guitars & keyboards/ backing vox in The Tangent ... This last effort is one of his very best - and ALL of his albums are of high quality. It offers ... (read more)

Report this review (#44537) | Posted by felona | Saturday, August 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Duncan N Glenday, January 2005 Guy Manning must be sick of being compared to Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. Imagine a younger Anderson without the cynicism and you'll have a good idea of Guy's delivery. It has a rich mid-ranged timbre and clear enunciation. The vocals are very up-front in the m ... (read more)

Report this review (#33089) | Posted by | Friday, June 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Jem Jedrzejewski - HAIRLESS HEART HERALD A Matter Of Life & Death is (Guy) Manning's sixth release in as many years. How many progressive bands can boast such an output these days? Eager as everybody should be to spin the disc as soon as it is in their possession, it is worth revisiting ... (read more)

Report this review (#33088) | Posted by | Friday, June 3, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Guy Manning - A Matter of Life And Death (The Journal Of Abel Mann) By Josh Turner Overall Review Guy Manning is quickly climbing the ladder of progressive rock, and he is close to the edge of some real stardom. He was a featured guest on both Tangent albums. Much to everyone ... (read more)

Report this review (#33086) | Posted by DinoL | Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Reviewer: DR D B SILLARS from Luton, Bedfordshire United Kingdom This album was my top choice of last year as best progressive rock album. So what makes this stand out from the competition, which last year was pretty good? Well, since 1999 Guy Manning has produced five albums for the British ... (read more)

Report this review (#33087) | Posted by | Monday, December 13, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've been a big fan of Manning for a couple of years now, and each album just keeps getting better. Plenty of catchy tunes, plenty of proggy bits, good ballads. All in all another great package from a musician who's work of late, both solo and in The Tangent, is prooving what a remarkably over ... (read more)

Report this review (#33085) | Posted by Wasp | Friday, December 10, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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