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Manning - Charlestown CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.49 | 136 ratings

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2 stars It's a shame, but I never heard Guy Manning's music before. I even never heard his name during my 3+ decades in music. His release attracted me after he became quite popular on PA,and received some high ratings(some low to be honest as well).

So - this artist was totally new for me. From very first sounds I expected this is multi- instrumentalist album. Usually you can easily hear it because of very static ("non-live") musical structure. Later I found that even he is generally multi-instrumentalist, there are many collaborators on this album. OK, I can really hear added vocals, some strings,sax,etc., but all the music sounds as result of multi-layered production in studio, not real band's recording.

Only 6 compositions, first is extra-ambitious 35 (!) minutes Charlestown. It's great, that compositionally music is quite rich and various, and even so long composition doesn't sound boring. Other shorter songs are quite melodic as well. Album starts with Mike Oldfield-like (from his more new age period) sounds, during long composition their genre will changes many times. You can hear Jethro Tull moments (especially in vocals timbres), some a bit heavier moments,folk rock elements and almost ambient synth/violin moments.Caliban+Ariel is very Jethro Tull influenced ballade, but with simple music and quite unpleasant electric piano sound. The Man In The Mirror starts as heavy rock song,but after few seconds changes to melodic pop-rock song. Clocks is sensible ballad again, but it sounds as pop-adaptation of Blackmore's Night song (and even Blackmore Night themselves are far not rockiest band ever).T.L.C. is vintage Americana. Finale starts with "plastic" synth's sounds and continues as hard rock parody on German TV show - with some heavy keys passages, funny melody and nice pop-folk flute (?) and strings soloing over killing drummer's beat. I understand that album has a concept,and music depends on it, but on musical releases music itself is always more important. We buy albums for listening, if we are interested in story, we can buy a book.

Main problem for me , besides of flat "non-live" sound is music itself. I would say the genre of this album is epic balladry with some multi-layered arrangements. By its compositions structure album balances somewhere on the edge between melodic pop-rock, folk and symphonic-rock,with some new age shadows under the scene. Vocals are quite controversial for me, drummer is below average (I believe in some moments drum machine could sound better), and being quite melodic, this album really lacks of memorable compositions.

In all, the release sounds as average semi-pro album, just not interesting enough for casual listener.I found out that Guy Manning is professional musician for years with many albums released, so evaluation standards really should be more strict in that case.

Mostly release for heavy artist's fans.

snobb | 2/5 |


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