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Mansun - Attack Of The Grey Lantern CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.00 | 38 ratings

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4 stars Was this ever a surprise when it was released!

Prior to this release Mansun had gained some commercial success in the singles charts with a couple of releases, notably Wide Open Space, which also gained large amounts of radio airplay. They seemed to be grouped by the media with other "Britpop" bands such as Blur and Pulp. Looks can be deceiving, and it's amusing to imagine what the Britpop hordes who must have rushed to buy this album (it made no. 1 in the UK album chart) made of what they got! Unfortunately it also meant that the band were largely overlooked by those of a more progressive disposition and have had to be rediscovered somewhat (perhaps this iswhy they were only added to ProgArchives in 2010)

Having secured a deal with a major record label Mansun had the bravery to release their debut album Attack of the Grey Lantern. What we have here is a debut concept album, based around the eccentric and unusual characters in a seemingly sleepy English village, and the secrets they hide behind their supposedly respectable public exteriors; from the sado-masochist of She Makes My Nose Bleed to the deranged accountant of Taxloss, the stocking-wearing perverted clergyman of Stripper Vicar, and the mysterious Mavis of the final track.

The music, as befits a concept, blends seamlessly from one track to the next, mixed with weird sound effects such as air-raid sirens and animal noises. The album opens to a lush string arrangement which blends to a guitar solo - it is some time before lyrics make an appearance. Stand-out tracks include Mansun's Only Love Song (inevitably it's not actually a love song at all) and Disgusting - the revulsion in the lyrics contrasted by a delicate arrangement and beautiful melody. Influences are hard to define, although it's possible to draw comparisons to Pink Floyd, while the surreal imagery of the lyrics might be closer to early Genesis. Add some Bowie, and a punk influence (most noticeable on their live set) and you're still only half way there. Lyrics are as outstanding as the brilliant titles would suggest.

Although it's clearly at the crossover end of the prog spectrum (probably sitting somewhere near Phideaux in "proginess" rating) this is an interesting album to any prog fan and serves as the perfect warm-up before tackling their masterwork "Six". Although part of me thinks that any band that manages to get signed to a major label and then presents them with a concept album as a first offering (at a time when prog was still a joke in the commercial sector) deserves a five star rating, four stars is correct for the musical quality

NOTE TO AMERICAN PROGGERS: Due to some American executive idiot the USA release of this album had jumbled track listing (obviously destroying the continuous flow) and one track dropped and replaced by an inferior B-side. Unless you think that concept albums are improved by being played in shuffle mode this is obviously to be avoided like the plague - pay for the import - it's worth it.

JonnyM79 | 4/5 |


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