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Phil Manzanera: Listen Now

Album Reviews:

Q (9/00, p.127) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Harnesses the talents of such luminaries as Simon Phillips, Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Tim Finn....well-structured songs and polished production..."

Album Notes

Personnel: Phil Manzanera (guitar, acoustic piano, Hammond organ); Eno (guitar treatment, chorus piano, synthesizer); Billy Livsey (clarinet, Wurlitzer piano, Fender Rhodes); Mel Collins (saxophone); John White (tuba); Eddie Jobson (acoustic piano, Fender piano); Eddie Rayner (acoustic piano); Francis Monkman (Fender Rhodes, synthesizer); Rhett Davies (Hammond organ); Simon Phillips (drums, percussion); Alan Lee (background vocals).

Recorded at Basing Street Studios, London, England from December 1975 and July 1977, and The Manor, Oxford, England in April 1977. Originally released on EG Records (EG 30).

Phil Manzanera had no problem filling his mid-'70s downtime away from Roxy Music. His guitar graced some 20 albums, like John Cale's Fear, Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets, and Nico's The End. This outing from his all-star side group is slicker than his 1976 live debut album, but no less worthwhile; some 16 musicians are credited. The sound is sleek and sophisticated; even lyrics aren't exempt from creative twists, as shown on "Listen Now"'s glistening jazz-pop -- which cleverly juxtaposes its title against a bouncy "now, now, listen" chorus. The song also questions how people are living life in a repressive society, even as "Law and Order" and "City of Lights" ponder its breakdown. Other songs visit more personal turf. "Flight 19" details a young man's angst-filled reaction to his lover's injuries, "Postcard Love" dismisses the perils of on-road romances, and "That Falling Feeling" takes a more wistful look at how people grow apart -- over a gliding Manzanera guitar part. (Yet another sly twist shifts the chorus from "Can't you feel it moving in?" to "You can feel it moving in.") Three totally different instrumentals round out matters. The best one is the lilting "Island," anchored by a climbing Bill McCormick bassline, as Manzanera unleashes his full array of guitar-altering devices. "Initial Speed" and "Que?" take more of a jazz/fusion tack; they're different snapshots of Manzanera's graceful, intelligent guitar style. This album's one of the most absorbing entries of Manzanera's lengthy career. ~ Ralph Heibutzki


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