Friday, September 13, 2013

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Review: Manning - Charlestown (2010)

Artist: Manning
Album: Charlestown
Year: 2010
Label: Festival Music

Review: Diego Camargo

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Thoughts: Guy Manning is a musician that has been active for almost 15 years and now in 2013 he and his band are about to release their 14th album.
Charlestown (2010) was their 11th album and has one thing I have always loved, a really long track.

Prog Rock albums that incorporate long tracks have always been one of the most interesting things to me. But I’m not talking about 10 minutes tracks, I’m talking about 20+ tracks. In the Charlestown (2010) case, I’m talking about a 35 minutes long track.

You need to being aware of the fact that, in this new Prog days, to release an album with a half an  hour song wrapped in 70’s style, you need guts!
From time to time we have albums with long tracks, but Manning did it perfectly with track one of the album ‘Charlestown’ and its 35’08 minutes. You have the complex yet structured suite that tells a story. In this case, a sailors story.
One thing that wouldn’t pass unnoticed is Guy Manning’s voice. It’s so similar to Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson that sometimes you actually think that Ian is once again recording some great Prog.
‘Charlestown’ is rich, deep and full of great melodies all over the song. And it’s pretty much the thick body of the album.



‘Caliban And Ariel’ does the hard job of giving continuity to Charlestown (2010), especially after the opening giant track. It does well, but unfortunately I must say that it is a weak continuity. The track is a ballad that is quite pretty but doesn’t really go anywhere.
Then we have ‘The Man In The Mirror’ that tries to keep the Prog sound going, but I think the song has the chorus repeated too much.
Much of the Manning's music is led by the acoustic guitars (Guy’s main instrument), and this one is not an exception. Add cello, saxophone and a fiddle solo and you have ‘The Man In The Mirror’.

‘Clocks’ comes in and one starts to wonder if all Manning’s cards were played in ‘Charlestown’, because the rest of the tracks are quite weak, frankly speaking. This one looks like a leftover from a 90’s Jethro Tull album.
Unfortunatelly ‘T.I.C.’ doesn’t make me change my mind about the whole Charlestown (2010). ‘T.I.C.’ is definitely the best track after the opening one and has good guitars, keyboards and a catchy chorus. But two songs (even if one is 35 minutes long) are not enough to make a whole album.
But, we still have a final track called ‘Finale’. This is a great instrumental track with an upbeat tempo, a Prog Extravaganza I would say. They have a great opening track and a very good ending, but what about the middle?

On Charlestown (2010) it seems that Guy Manning tried really hard with the title-track and forgot about the rest of the album. And this is a pity, cause this album could be a modern Prog classic if better worked on. As it is, not really.
But anyway, it’s really worth checking because of the mentioned tracks.

The band was included in our Podcast #26 and you can listen the track 'The Night And The Devil' HERE.
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