Manning - [Reissues]

Tall Stories For Small Children
(1999/2010; 1:12:22; Festival Music 201004A)

The Cure
(2000/2010; 1:09:40; Festival Music 201004B)

One Small Step
(2005/2010; 1:02:37; Festival Music 201004C)

Songs From The Bilston House
(2007/2010; 1:10:19; Festival Music 201004D)

(For track listings see below)

Manning Website                Festival Music

Poor Guy Manning: slaving away for ten years, being respected by your fellow musicians, but still a virtual unknown to the prog rock audience. How sour it must be that you’re hardly recognized for your solo work, but for being a band member of the famous Parallel Or Ninety Degrees and especially The Tangent both in which you’re not even the band leader. Maybe the re-releases of four of your albums can finally turn your fortune under the denominator ‘10 th Anniversary Edition’?

I must admit that I was looking forward to revisiting Guy Manning’s work as I only owned his debut album Tall Stories For Small Children. Listening now to it, after such a long time, I noticed how much his music provided a glimpse of what was to come later in the shape of The Tangent, although this is mainly Andy Tillison’s band. I mean the narrative songs, often long with various sections in the song structure and with a story to tell. However, Manning’s music is generally more tranquil, not up-tempo or epic, and therefore maybe a bit less interesting in the long run. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any gems to be found on these CD’s, far from it. Manning mostly excels in the longer pieces, like The Fall & Rise Of Abel Mann? and Holy Ireland from Tall Stories, or One Small Step (parts I – VIII) from the eponymous album. His acoustic work is also quite tasty and often touching. Just listen for instance to The Candyman from Tall Stories, but if you listen to The Cure you can hear that he’s quite capable of rocking too!

Manning’s albums are getting more interesting and his songs are getting stronger in the course of time. Listen to the title track of his latest release and you’ll know what I mean. Maybe some of Manning’s music is too English acoustic, folky and quiet for the taste of prog fans, but these re-issues provide the Background Magazine-reader with a welcome opportunity to revisit the work of an underrated musician who deserves more.

**, ***-, ***, ***+ André de Waal (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Album: Tall Stories For Small Children
Tracks: The Last Psalm / The Voyager / White Waters / The Candyman / The Fall & Rise Of Abel / Mann? / Castaways / Holy Ireland / The Willow & The Pine (bonus track)

Album: The Cure
Tracks: {Syndrome} / {Therapy} / Real Life / A Strange Place / Whispers On The Wire / Songs Of Faith / Falling / {Prognosis} / The Cure / A Strange Place (bonus track, live)

Album: One Small Step
Tracks: In Swingtime / Night Voices / No Hiding Place / The Mexico Line / One Small Step (parts I – VIII) / In Swingtime (bonus track, 1999 version)

Album: Songs From The Bilston House
Tracks: Songs From The Bilston House The Calm Absurd / Lost In Play / Understudy / Skimming Stones / Anateres / Icarus & Me / Pillars Of Salt / Inner Moment / From The Heart (bonus track, demo)

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