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Phil Manzanera: K-Scope

Album Reviews:

Q (9/00, p.127) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...A vibrant release, with Manzanera and his fellow musicians turning in some sparkling performances..."

Album Notes

Personnel: Phil Manzanera (guitar, Farfisa organ, keyboards, synthesizer); Tim Finn, Neal Finn (vocals); Simon Ainley (guitar); Mel Collins (saxophone); Eddie Rayner (piano, keyboards); Francis Monkman (piano); Dave Skinner (keyboards); Bill MacCormick (bass, background vocals); Bill MacCormick, John Wetton (bass, background vocals); Simon Phillips, Paul Thompson (drums); Kevin Godley, Lol Cream (background vocals).

Recorded at Sun Park Studios, Surrey, England from March to May 1978.

Recorded in the spring of 1978 at Yes bassist Chris Squire's home studio, K-Scope featured three founding members of the Split Enz/Crowded House: Eddie Rayner (keys), Tim Finn (lead vocal) and brother Neil Finn (backing vocal). Manzanera also enlists percussion heavyweight Simon Phillips, good buddies John Wetton and Bill MacCormick (both bassists and vocalists), and saxophonist Mel Collins, among several others. The band strong arms the solid pop/rock structures and approaches the instrumentals with the same verve. The literally "coolest" tune in the set is also Manzanera's personal favorite, the breezy "Gone Flying." The composition (and performance) is a fine example of how truly excellent a pop song can be. Manzanera's atmospheric "echo guitar" is at the core of the piece, with Phillips contributing refined, offbeat, fluid percussion, and MacCormick (arguably the most appealing vocalist on the album) providing equally exceptional bass work. The song is supplemented by the next cut, the quirky, instrumental "N-Shift," featuring MacCormick's pronounced, funky basslines. Other stand-out sounds include the opener, "K-Scope," a charged instrumental featuring Mel Collins on sax; the reggae rhythm of "Cuban Crisis"; Wetton's lead vocal on "Numbers," and Manzanera's closing instrumental, "You Are Here." The bonus cuts include two energetic performances from 801's 1977 tour ("Remote Control" and "Out of the Blue") and a demo version of "Slow Motion TV" (titled "It Don't Matter to Me"). The frantic, anxious "Remote Control" features a hot Andy Mackay tenor sax solo, and Roxy Music's "Out of the Blue," while failing in the vocal department, showcases Bill MacCormick's thoughtful, occasionally fast bass playing. Though probably not Manzanera's most accomplished work, K-Scope remains one of his most interesting and enjoyable projects. [In the label's ongoing effort to give Manzanera his due, Expression Records later released K-Scope with three bonus cuts.] ~ David Ross Smith


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