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Manning - Charlestown CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.49 | 136 ratings

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Prog Metal Team
2 stars I will certainly remember 2010 as the year where PA was discovered as a potential promotion tool. This has probably been going on for a while longer but the amount of 2010 albums that get pushed up to star status is endless. It's a nuisance for people trying to find the real 2010 gems, certainly when the actual product is so much less then advertised.

Anyway, in order to put this album in perspective we must place it next to its main influences: Mike Oldfield and Jethro Tull, both responsible for a couple of excellent releases in their heyday. The mix of both influences works quite well on the 35 minute title track but it sure doesn't reach the complexity and epic mastership of TaaB and Passion Play, nor does it offer the emotional tension that Oldfield built up on his 70's epics. But it works quite well as a string of folk songs with instrumental interludes bridging it all together. The shorter songs that follow are mostly forgettable folk-rock, with the exception of the nice campfire moment Caliban and Ariel

There are a couple of problems though that bring this potentially good album down to fan-territory. The first is the lifeless drumming. The static mid-paced backbeat that dominates the entire album drains the songs from all their energy and makes the album a dull listen. Also the synth arrangements are far from exciting and never go beyond the known 70s tweeting teapot and humming bee sounds. Probably it's an attempt to add Prog sauce to the stew but to make a good Prog album, more is needed then old synths. Finally the mix and production are weak, the balance between instruments is far from perfect and the overall sound is rather cold and thin. It leaves an amateur impression.

Charlestown is my first taste of Manning and probably my last. Not that I can't hear the potential of the album, but if an album with so much room for improvement comes advertised as a masterpiece, then there's little reason to believe the acclaimed excellence of any future or past releases. Still, Charlestown is a good album for fans of light folk-rock music. 2.5 stars for me.

Bonnek | 2/5 |


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