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Phil Manzanera biography
Phil Manzanera is best known for being one of the all time members and guitar player of Roxy Music. He was raised on various locations like Cuba, Hawaii and Venzuela. His musical influences containing elements from both rock and Latin music. Prior to his membership of RM, he was one of the founding members of Quiet sun. Their self titled debut wasn't recorded before he got in the studio to record his solo debut album which appeared at the end of 1975. "Diamond head" surprised many when it hit the English charts. The mainly instrumental album is an impressive mixture of Roxy Music, rock, progressive rock, jazzrock, avant-garde and Latin. The album was recorded with the help of all his fellow RM & Quiet sun colleagues including Brian Eno & Robert Wyatt. Despite the bizarre combination of various musical influences the music is very accessible. The following year 801 was formed and the band hit the road with a track listing that includes material from Quiet sun & Diamond head. In the hiatus between the Roxy Music albums from 1975 till 1979 there were two albums released from 801, Manzanera contributed also to various recording sessions for Brian Eno, Brian Ferry & John Cale and issued "K-scope" his second solo record in 1978. After Roxy music split up in 1983 he joined forces with Andy MacKay & James Wraith to form the short lived "The explorer's" who broke up after releasing just one record. A second record was shelved and would get released several years later under the name of Manzanera/macKay. Meanwhile he released "primitive guitars" his third solo effort in 1982. In 1987 he teamed up with long time collaborator John Wetton and they released an album full of melodic pop songs. During the same decade he worked with Steve Winwood, David Gilmour, Tim Finn, Godley & creme as a writer and producer. One track which he co-wrote with David Gilmour ended up on the Pink Floyd record "A momentary lapse of reason". In 1990 he released two adventurous albums on which he explored his latin roots further on. For the rest of the decade he concentrated on live gigs even though some reissues appeared for the first time on cd. In 1999 he released an album in which he played lush ambient music. After 18 years, Roxy music reunited for a tour in 2001. That year he released "Vozero" with Robert Wyatt doing much of the vocals. In 2003 he appeared as a session musician on the next Robert Wyatt effort along the likes of Brian Eno & David Gilmour. In 2004 & 2005 he released more

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801 Live801 Live
Astralwerks 1991
Audio CD$10.41
$4.63 (used)
Hannibal 2005
Audio CD$29.69
$1.07 (used)
801 Live @ Hull801 Live @ Hull
Audio CD$16.95
Listen NowListen Now
Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2000
Audio CD$4.63
$8.18 (used)
Live at the Curious Arts FestivalLive at the Curious Arts Festival
Audio CD$9.63
$13.07 (used)
Import · Remastered
EMI Europe Generic 2001
Audio CD$12.15
Corroncho 2Corroncho 2
Audio CD$10.58
$10.99 (used)
Diamond HeadDiamond Head
Import · Remastered
Audio CD$27.99 (used)
The Music 1972-2008The Music 1972-2008
Box set
Expression Records 2010
Audio CD$20.60
$24.33 (used)
50 Minutes Later50 Minutes Later
Hannibal 2005
Audio CD$25.95
$13.66 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
PHIL MANZANERA Guantanamera VIDP-14 8cm CD JAPAN 1990 NEW USD $154.12 Buy It Now
Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music) - Diamond Head - EX+ UK 12" Vinyl - ILPS 9315 USD $13.50 Buy It Now
Phil Manzanera & Grupo Moncada - Live at the Karl Marx Theatre, Havana USD $4.06 [0 bids]
2h 59m
Phil Manzanera - Wasted Lands The (1999) USD $10.78 [0 bids]
2h 59m
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PHIL MANZANERA // K-Scope / Original 1978 US LP in Shrink Mint- USD $5.98 Buy It Now 12h 53m
Phil Manzanera Listen Now vinyl LP album record UK 2302074 POLYDOR 1977 USD $21.64 Buy It Now 17h 4m
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PHIL MANZANERA Southern Cross LP VINYL French Expression 1990 10 Track With USD $12.06 Buy It Now 2 days
PHIL MANZANERA Remote Control 7" VINYL UK Polydor 1978 B/W K Scope (2001835) USD $5.68 Buy It Now 2 days
PHIL MANZANERA Southern Cross 1990 Mini LP CD JAPAN +4trx John Wetton F7005 X USD $3.25 [3 bids]
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The Explorers Two Worlds Apart - Phil Manzanera 12" Single USD $5.44 Buy It Now 2 days
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PHIL MANZANERA A Million Reason Why 7" 45 USD $4.07 Buy It Now 2 days
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PHIL MANZANERA Southern Cross 1991 CD Agenda Records [Roxy Music, 801] USD $8.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Phil Manzanera / 801 / Roxy Music / Listen Now / 1977 EG Records UK 1st press LP USD $13.55 Buy It Now 3 days
The Explorers - Explorers - (Phil Manzanera & Andy Makay)- Excellent 1985 vinyl USD $6.77 Buy It Now 3 days
PHIL MANZANERA GUITARISSIMO 75-82 EG EGLP 69 US Shrink Vinyl LP USD $0.99 [0 bids]
3 days
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Phil Manzanera - Diamond Head (Vinyl) USD $22.77 Buy It Now 3 days
Phil Manzanera : Southern cross (US, 1991) CD USD $4.46 Buy It Now 3 days
Phil Manzanera - K-Scope - ORIGINAL 1978 LP-SEALED! USD $19.99 Buy It Now 3 days
PHIL MANZANERA (ROXY MUSIC) - "Guitarissimo (1975-1982) " CD - 1987 ORIG 1st US USD $11.88 Buy It Now 3 days
Phil Manzanera Primitive Guitars Vinyl LP 1982 EG Records USD $5.99 Buy It Now 3 days
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PHIL MANZANERA Primitive Guitars ARC-7292 CD JAPAN 2008 NEW USD $274.99 Buy It Now 4 days
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Phil Manzanera Primitive Guitars Roxy Music Advert NME Cutting 1982 USD $13.56 Buy It Now 4 days
Phil Manzanera K-Scope Roxy UK LP advert 1978 MM-DFWO USD $13.56 Buy It Now 4 days
Roxy Music Phil Manzanera Interview/article 1975 USD $13.56 Buy It Now 4 days
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Phil Manzanera 801 Roxy Music UK Tour Advert 1977 USD $13.56 Buy It Now 4 days
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Quiet Sun Phil Manzanera Andy McKay Roxy Music MM5 Interview 1975 USD $13.56 Buy It Now 4 days
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PHIL MANZANERA discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

PHIL MANZANERA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.12 | 60 ratings
Diamond Head
3.38 | 26 ratings
3.85 | 16 ratings
Primitive Guitars
3.00 | 3 ratings
Nowomowa: The Wasted Lands (OST)
3.84 | 6 ratings
Southern Cross [Aka: A Million Reasons Why]
3.83 | 6 ratings
Phil Manzanera & SÚrgio Dias: Mato Grosso
3.93 | 9 ratings
4.00 | 15 ratings
3.54 | 16 ratings
50 Minutes Later
4.49 | 11 ratings
Firebird V11
3.43 | 7 ratings
The Sound Of Blue

PHIL MANZANERA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at the Karl Marx
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live at the Curious Arts Festival

PHIL MANZANERA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

PHIL MANZANERA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 6 ratings
Guitarissimo 75 - 82
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Manzanera Collection
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Manzanera Archives Rare One
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Music 1972 - 2008

PHIL MANZANERA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live at the Curious Arts Festival by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Live, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

Live at the Curious Arts Festival
Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars In a world where rock guitarists become legends for flashy and exalted soloing, there is one icon who defies the rule and has been doing so in a career that spans more than 4 decades. His contributions to the Roxy Music sound is well documented, a bit less so for his solo output as well as numerous cameo performances for a wide variety of artists. Phil Manzanera is also good friends with Floyd leader Dave Gilmour, a man who knows a bit about guitar playing and the two have been collaborators for a long time. Phil Manzanera is what I would call a textural master, his rhythm guitar work unparalleled in rock music, as well as infusing vast amounts of subtle little licks into his particular style, perhaps due to his long career as a producer (John Cale, Split Enz, Nina Hagen and a vast array of Latino stars). He also pioneered the processing of his guitar through Eno's synthesizers, perhaps the forerunner of various future MIDI experiments, turning his instrument into anything one can imagine.

His 1964 Cardinal Red Gibson Firebird VII is iconic (as seen on the inner gatefold of Roxy Music's masterful ' For Your Pleasure' album , as well as being idolized on his 2008 solo album 'Firebird VII'. In 2016, he released a live album 'Live at The Curious Arts Festival' with a line-up of mostly young musicians including lead vocalist Sonia Bernardo, whose voice is quite revealing and original. The ten tracks include 're-makes/re-models' of archetypal Roxy Music pieces such as 'More Than This' , 'Take a Chance with Me', 'Love is the Drug' and 'Out of the Blue' , while nailing a Ferry standard 'Lets Stick Together'. Add to that a jazz classic 'Stormy Weather', a Kanye West piece 'No Church in the Wild' that originally featured a sample of his 'filthy' guitar playing and a slew of tracks from his solo albums.

Opener 'High Atlas' is a scorching blast that shows off those rhythmic qualities mentioned earlier, giving the piece a buzzing snarl that is frankly utterly delicious. If one focuses in on the instrumental prowess, the sheer genius of Manzanera's style comes shining through. The robotic '1960 Caracas' from 'The Sound of Blue' album has a soulful adornment that highlights Sonia's amazing scat wailing, a rather dazzling feature. Rolling organ churns and an incandescent guitar blast really make this a savory track that defies genre. Phil is also number 2 all-time Latino guitarist after Carlos Santana, as proven by the remarkably played 'Magdalena', a percussion-laden thriller that could easily have been written by the Chicano master, full of bravado, flair and passion. His solo is a paroxysm of delirium, tortured yet liberating.

The highlight track is undisputedly 'Take a Chance on Me' from the Avalon release, a clanging flick of the wrist affair that exudes so many different emotions, it's hard to not be charmed into submission. Initially way more experimental than the RM version, this almost falls into deep psychedelia, as his sizzling guitar weaves and bobs like a sulfurous missile. When the classic 5 note motif kicks in, the arrangements finds its original theme, though Bernardo's voice has a lovely blas' feel. The instrumental section reveals a stunning workout from keyboardist Joao Mello, a super funky exploration that gives Phil the elevation to blow a mean, grizzled solo to die for. On the other hand 'Love is The Drug' is a Ferry vocal high-point that has failed to be surpassed, though Sonia does a decent job, but a female voice cannot justify the lyrics, sounding out of character in such a steamy club environment but 'you can guess the rest' !

I know nothing of Kanye West (frankly I never heard his music) so I cannot really judge objectively but 'No Church in the Wild' is a mid-temp rocker, with ZZ Top like guitars and a forcefully colorful vocal , swaying to a strong rock beat and quite attractive , I daresay, bordering on brilliant! This was a surprise. A great live standard , 'Let's Stick Together' is a pure Rock 'n Roll tune, with its repeated 'C'Mon, C'Mon' chorus, booming bass from Yaron Stavi, 'boom-boom' drums, a couple of luscious sax solos interweaving with Phil's shaking, trembling and looping guitar romp.

Another perennial crowd favorite 'Out of the Blue' pulls the curtain down on what must have been quite a concert, the bombastic finale amid the parting clouds, shimmering violin and guitar uttering the words: 'would you walk out in style?'. Phil Manzanera just did. Amazing cover art too

4.5 Appletrees

 Diamond Head by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.12 | 60 ratings

Diamond Head
Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by

4 stars I searched for some reviews of Phil Manzanera's Diamond Head as only just come back to listening and scrutinizing this Album and wanted to dig under the surface...

I was a mad Roxy fan from 1972 and in the post Eno debacle, I struggled to hold on to anything that may hint at those highs from For Your Pleasure. I dabbled with the unfathomable No Pussyfooting and the rather awkward Here Come The Warm Jets (and even went to see Eno live before his collapsed lung) but by the time Diamond Head had arrived, I had had to admit defeat and accept the new Roxy/Bryan Ferry Lounge Lizard makeover.

As such, Diamond Head sounded (from radio track plays of the day) too much like dis-articulated parts of Pussyfooting/Warm Jets/new Roxy (ala Eddie Jobson) and was nothing to ignite a 16 year old with a cheap copy guitar and Woolworths amplifier looking for adrenalin riffs and inspiration.


Roll by 42 years and that 16 year old is now 58 and has access to all the sound machines and guitars that made up this canvas and suddenly it makes sense - hell I may even introduce this work into my guitar teaching!

However, I still feel awkward with Eno's singing though... Oh and Phil - those less than perfect pitch bends are an anathema to me still!

 K-Scope by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.38 | 26 ratings

Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by DePloy

3 stars Manzanera's K scope starts with a rollicking progfunkrock instrumental title track that makes the listener think "this is vintage Manzanera. I can't wait to hear the rest".

For the most part, fans and neophytes shouldn't be disappointed. The musicians, a similar cast from Phil's other professional work, again display the chops to lay down accessible yet challenging pop/rock. The artists have obviously matured and evolved judging from the song names and themes laid out by the lyrics. Still there are many styles covered here as with all pre 1980 Manzanera works, and the fun the musicians are having shines through. Good late '70's rock and roll. The only errors in my eyes are the cheap Stephen Stills does reggae knockoff Cuban Crisis and the discoish Hot Spot.

3.5 stars

 Diamond Head by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.12 | 60 ratings

Diamond Head
Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by DePloy

4 stars Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera delivers the goods on his 1975 solo debut. Leading off with the uptempo, sublime "Frontera" (sung with disconnected glee in Spanish by Robert Wyatt), and ending with the Latin-meets-glam of "Carhumba", the listener is swept away by glorious, feel-good washes of sound. " Big Day" is a great glampop track that could have been a Roxy outtake. "Same Time Next Week" offers a humorous and fun male/female duet with a great understated Manz guitar solo at the end. "Miss Shapiro" "East of Echo" and "Alma" give the band ample room to flex its sonic muscles. This album is likely to appeal to a great deal of prog fans due to the presence of Wyatt, Eno, Wetton, as well as cohorts from Quiet Sun. Manzanera and all the musicians use their instrument to great effect on every tune. A great way to introduce the AOR "classic rock" fan to the world of classic prog.
 Nowomowa: The Wasted Lands (OST) by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.00 | 3 ratings

Nowomowa: The Wasted Lands (OST)
Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Jazz oriented, epic symphonic like compositions and movie focus format restraint Phil Manzanera's usual "latin" urges, and as I noticed again, for good!

Surprisingly this PHIL MANZANERA "Nowomowa: Wasted Lands", which as the press ad release notes; "This was recorded as the theme movie music to "The Wasted Lands". It was first released in 1988 by Coda as the band Nowomowa . It was re-issued by Expression in 1999 as a Phil Manzanera album.", deals more with Paul William's piano than Phil's electric accomplice.

Rich in moods and arrangements, its music direction is in fact quiet visual as good soundtrack music tends to be.

Expecting a Phil Manzanera release as such will decieve Phil's fans, but will surely catch prog Jazz/Fusion followers' attention.

Well composed, great unexpected highlights and a restricted but highly creative guitar (with "latin" flavor) which serves all kind of purposes and in turn outstands in every appearance by not being "main" instrument all the time.

***3.5 PA stars.

 Diamond Head by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.12 | 60 ratings

Diamond Head
Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Phil Manzanera's debut solo album is blessed by an excellently-chosen range of guests reflecting all the different dimensions of his solo career. Robert Wyatt is the first to make his presence felt on Frontera, but the Canterbury influence doesn't stop there because you have contributions from Quiet Sun. On the Roxy Music side of the equation, former member Brian Eno gives a vocal performance and provides some some writing contributions reminiscent of his early solo work (particularly Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy) and current Roxy members Andy MacKay and Eddie Jobson guest as well.

Add some more guests - such as John Wetton, who'd only just crawled out of the wreckage of King Crimson - and you have a fearsome amount of talent gathered on one album, and what's particularly pleasing is how incredibly consistent it all is, Manzanera showing a real knack for drawing these disparate performances together into a coherent whole. Oh, and he plays a really mean guitar too.

 6PM by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.00 | 15 ratings

Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The best so far! Why? Phil Manzanera cuts it short with the insisting and somehow cliched "Latin" flavors of most of his songwriting. This guy may not be a "natural" songwriter but in the proper atmosphere he can work out some great songs, scarce, but great.

In 6PM he manages to hold an entire album without the aid of some of his known "solutions" to music composition. Of course there are latin touches and of course he surrounds himself with a great group of very well known musicians (as usual) and this work is no exception. But what really makes it tick, is precisely that in this project he lets others make full uninhibited participations all along the way.

So it feels more surprising when you in contrast listen to some Latin-fusions here and there, in between other musical stylings. In my opinion his best songs except for "Southern Cross" are usually non Latin fusioned based or at least more balanced in that regard.

So... polished songs, oustandind musicians, nothing could go wrong, but with Phil you never know and "6:PM" proved me wrong from start to finish.

Yes! Phil Manzanera is able to run through an entire album with grace and restraint, in an all great songs and inspired performance project, To be honest, I never thought he could pull it off , less for a whole album, but he certainly does!

****4 "well worth the wait " PA stars.

 Firebird V11 by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.49 | 11 ratings

Firebird V11
Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Phil Manzanera's latest work is further proof of this legendary guitarist/composer's talent at creating a distinctive discography, each album diverse from the other, infusing a sundry of detailed elements that broaden the spectrum of styles. There have been sensational recordings, from the wonderfully original Diamond Head, the dark-prog pop of K-Scope and Listen Now, the Latino-tinged Southern Cross and Vozero, as well as the 6pm and 50 Minutes Later combo of eclectic prog. Ever since his Roxy Music days, the guitarist has stretched the boundaries of electric guitar playing (Primitive Guitars) by expressing scintillating restrained riffs and notes on the lower scale while occasionally foraging screaming bursts of soaring leads that never overstay their welcome. The man was never going to win the longest solo contest, as its anathema to his muse. His implement of choice is the iconic Gibson Firebird V11, a visually spectacular axe that sits throned with the Flying V, Stratocaster, Les Paul and SGs in the pantheon of rock guitar instruments. His elegant power screw driver style is unique as it drills tones and bores textures deep and hard into at times conventional structures that veer often into unparalleled variances, with tinges of experimental, classical, traditional Latino, prog, Canterbury and typical British proto-pop. On the all- instrumental Firebird V11 album, Phil proposes a quartet of technically gifted international stylists from a wide spectrum of genres, featuring acclaimed Polish jazz pianist Leszek Mozdzer, philharmonic bassist Yaron Stavi from Israel and British experimental percussion maestro Charles Hayward , he of This Heat fame (with whom Phil played in pre-Roxy years with Quiet Sun). The osmosis is audibly stunning as each virtuoso remains well within the Manzanera style while contributing immensely with their own mercurial talents. As such, Hayward in particular raises eyebrows, easily one of the most staggering drum displays in recent memory, full of playful bravado and intense dedication. Imagine a record with a classical rumbling bassist, a flourishing piano artist of the highest order and scintillating pulse drumming, all crowned with Phil's active and sensual guitar, lush with thunderbolts of stringed genius. This is what is delivered and in spades!

The opening salvo holds back no punches, stating for the record that this will not be some smooth lounge jazz, sanitized and satinized for some easy listening background cocktail music. Gritty, feral and robust, the theme is rock music without fluff, instead adorned with some barely restrained exaltation. Hayward bashes confidently from the outset, drilling thud after thud, into drum submission, his Israeli partner in for the ride. The famed Brit tongue and cheek humor is encrypted in the title "Fortunately I had One With Me" and the playing is a dexterously applied science in controlled musical chaos, with progressive credentials all around.

"Cartagena" is also the town in Venezuela that is close to Phil's heart and soul and the majestic axe riff is there as proof of a less bombastic (read= explosive) style best exemplified by Carlos Santana, preferring judicious restraint and staying power. The rollicking middle section is breath-taking, all four on supersonic mode without the histrionics. The tropical outro is splendid. "Fireebired" is quirky experimental to the point where there is even a zeuhl feel (ha´, ha´, ha´!) that elicits a smile of recognition each time, a frantic drum beat amid an ocean of odd sounds, bizarre guitar colorations, loopy synths and blitz piano musings and then suddenly exploding into a groove of dissonance, despair and torture. The deranged chanting holds no grounding to any terra firma, spiraling amok and akimbo, helter-skelter and impending argy-bargy (love that word, whatever it means!).

The epic "Mexican Hat" is an improvisational tour de force, a musical sombrero that has all the hallmarks of a prog fiesta, richly festooned by intensity and passion, nervous and sultry adornments in the deliveries, an Řber-jazz piano and booming drums. More weird chanting and onomatopoeic eructions and a squeaky synth solo before engaging a romantic piano Útude that drips off some sweltering icicle. Veering off into a psychedelic cloud, Phil pays homage to his good friend and musical partner Dave Gilmour but inherently in a way more complex and experimental structure. Manzanera holds back the troupe from getting too comfortable, steering the ship masterfully and building up the inevitable crescendo and orgasm. A sensational track! The title track is referring to his legendary and trade-mark red Gibson Firebird V11 guitar purchased for the "For Your Pleasure" album, which Phil is seen displaying in the vinyl gatefold. There is room for Leszek's rivulet piano runs but the guitar solos are all neatly spectacular, a true craftsman at work!

The peak is reached as "A Few Minutes" has some mysterious and romantic spoken word script that evokes some fateful movie's denouement and the cue for the band to play some funeral march. Spooky, eerie, atmospheric and unexpected, the arrangement is like a soundtrack for a demented James Bond movie, where Largo finally has the upper hand and is about to permanently dispatch 007 to some bleak and nameless SAS military cemetery. But its haunting stuff, original as sin and meritorious of the highest praise.

"After Magritte" closes the deal, Magritte being RenÚ Magritte, a celebrated Belgian surrealist painter, famous for his faceless bowler hats and a personal favorite of mine. The mood is smoking hot tropical, something Carlos would compose but without the flashy screaming guitar. Phil expresses this ability to hold back once again and to perfection, the sorrow and the pain obvious in between the licks. Imagine holding your babe, beads of sweat rippling down from every pore, drunk with lust and hungry for the wildest flavors , in a trance, slow-dance, hypnotized by the moment and the undulating lead guitar wrapping snake-like around both your enlaced bodies.

Tremendous achievement and easily Uncle Phil's finest work yet. This recording consecrates his under-appreciated talents and will bear witness to his legacy.

5 red guitars

 Southern Cross [Aka: A Million Reasons Why] by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.84 | 6 ratings

Southern Cross [Aka: A Million Reasons Why]
Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars Many do not rate this seminal Phil Manzanera album very highly but I believe solidly that it warrants absolutely nil merit, as this is a decisive and divisive course change, veering from dense yet oh so cool rock master stokes like Diamond Head, K-Scope and Listen Now ! But Phil always supplied his muse with parallel projects that encompassed the entire spectrum of progressive rock and his Latin roots never really were espoused beyond a certain guitar machismo. Both his lead and his brilliant rhythm technique are legendary. On Southern Cross" Manzanera delves profoundly into his childhood memories living in Venezuela and Cuba.and keeping those impressions intact and available 35 or so years later to put them on record, well that's a just cause if I ever heard one. It's a radically less progressive soundtrack of life and times and mists of reflective memories, preferring a neo- traditional style, with heavy prog cosmetics nevertheless. Truth is that the melodies here are breathtaking and the instrumental playing superb. The breezy, tropical, hot sensuality is there in droves, aided by some proper British influences of pomp and circumstance. It's dancier, jazzier, funkier and addictive beyond logic, almost like a postcard from the islands never fails to make one smile! But it's still far removed from Roxy Music's glossy romantic rock, closer perhaps to classic Traffic circa The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Phil's textured guitar waves its unique magic all over this 'traditional" agenda of tunes and I love it to death, believing him to be a musical icon of the highest order and perhaps the most original guitarist in rock history, many having copied Bryan Ferry but no one ever aped Phil Manzanera! Not even close.

Smartly, a chugging pop-prog ditty shoots this one off, "A Million Reasons Why" is a lovely, breezy , brass-blasted song that has closer links with 10 cc than the Bee Gees, a heavenly chorus and some great singing altogether. (The album has some solid guest vocalists in old partner Tim Finn and the lesser-known soul voice of Gary Dyson, both wail convincingly). This is followed by the luscious and sultry instrumental "Frontera 91", a voiceless reference to the original on Diamond Head on which Robert Wyatt manned the mike seductively. Phil's entrancing guitar enflames the proceedings with bristling virtuosity, screeching, howling and pleading with utter sincerity. Prog heavy, baby!

The brass-funk kicks into elevated gear with "the Great Leveller" a groove-fest that cooks, simmers, boils and erupts, making one want to dance (proggers? Nah!) but certainly join in the rabid chorus, bellowing with some imaginary microphone. Gary Dyson can sing, mates! I am a sucker for well-timed "Hoo-Hoo" choruses big time and the lead axe solo is breathless once again! Infectious, poppy, finger-snapping but sly and sensual also, the segue into "Tambor" is seamless as if a natural fit came to fruition , keeping the samba sambaing with cascades of seductive percussion that would make Carlos Santana blush with 'hermano" envy!

The title track showcases the Roxyman's string massage qualities to the utmost degree, a fluid envelope of various styles and sounds that defy words, an iconoclastic display of controlled virtuosity. Relentlessly romantic and seductive, the atmosphere is sensational, with vibrant rhythms swirling around brass columns, the teamwork between the axe and the sax always was a Roxy hallmark. (Hello Mel Collins!)

The Tim Finn-led "Rich and Poor" is melancholic and painful, poignant with a grudge against the injustices of life, everyone a hero one day, a traitor the next according to some temporary junta. The history of Latin America is not pretty at all, until relatively recently, as people tend to forget that the 70's had the glory days of prog but a General/Colonel mafia ruled every single Latino country without exception (and don't tell me Mexico, okay!). It should come to no surprise then that a track called "Dr Fidel" shows up a bit later in the programme, solidifying the obvious previous statement zealously. But the song is a positive and hopeful testament to the yearnings of a people who have suffered for way too long. As long as there is music and dance, life is worth living. Yeah, corny, I know but a refreshing interlude from the gargantuan epics of sci-fi mumbo-jumbo we prog fans love to devour. Shake, shake! "Verde" gets initially cosmic then seamlessly rhythmic when spearheaded by a slick guitar riff that is expertly simple while Tim wraps his soul around the microphone and things get funky a la Simply Red with blasts of trumpet and horns to add some salsa. Danceable? Yup! The mood gets experimental towards the end, sweltering the pleasure even further. The tremendous "Dr Fidel" is in reference to ultra-nationalist dictator Fidel Castro insurgency against the much loathed Batista regime, proposing a shuffling beat, revolutionary chanting (Oye mi canto, oye mi voz) and some sizzling playing on opulent oboe, rumbling bass and devastating lead guitar. Sonic delirium of the highest order.

"Venceremos" is the highlight track here, a massive serenade of emotion and hope that will have you join the choir "en seguida" (aw, look it up!), wrapped into the thrill of it all. The English lyrics are definitely cheesy by any standard but the Spanish chorus is just sublime but the crowning lead solo is enough to overcome any objections.

I just love the positive vibe emanating from this unloved gem, reverting to it every time the summer sun looms on the horizon. One of those lost wonders that evoke the glow in one's spirit.

4.5 cruces inglesas

 Primitive Guitars by MANZANERA, PHIL album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.85 | 16 ratings

Primitive Guitars
Phil Manzanera Prog Related

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars If you enjoy Phil Manzanera's unique guitar stylings (as I do), then you would definitely enjoy this album. Unlike his previous albums, under his own name or the band 801, which featured mostly composed pieces, on this one Manzanera mostly lays down some rhythm tracks, and layers his elegant guitar lines over them. The result is some incredibly listenable music.

The majority of the pieces have that slight South American flavor that spiced up Manzanera's albums, but here brought to the forefront. And his use off effect, especially chorus, is simply exquisite.

Since the compositions are very loose, and it's mostly a guitar showcase, it's not one of Manzanera's more progressive albums, but it is progessive enough for me.

Thanks to fishy for the artist addition.

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