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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Wetton Manzanera

One World

Review by Gary Hill

In the late 1980’s two prog rock greats in the personage of John Wetton and Phil Manzanera recorded this disc. Let’s make one point clear here. This is included in the prog section based on who these guys are (and what the rest of their catalog is like). Certainly the music contained here would not get it listed in that genre. What you have here is a very 1980’s sounding AOR album. The thing is, since these two men are as talented as they are this rises above most of the music like this. Certainly Wetton’s voice alone, with it’s killer evocative texture, earns it a special place. I’d say that a lot of the music here tends to sound the same after a while, but there are still some songs that stand above the rest. I’d say this album is definitely better than average – but only a little.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
It's Just Love
Keys begin this and then a new ballad approach starts to enter and build. This is pretty and Wetton’s vocals deliver a very evocative performance. A bouncing set of backing vocals enter and then a very AOR like arrangement takes it. I hear a lot of Asia in this, but then again with John Wetton singing what do you expect?
Keep On Loving Yourself
A more full hard rocking approach leads this one off. This feels a bit like Asia again, but there’s also more of a soaring fusion approach to the track. This is a lot more straight ahead rock than the cut that came before it. The anthemic chorus in particular calls to mind Asia.
You Don't Have To Leave My Life
Rather mysterious keyboard textures start this off gradually. This eventually gives way to a bouncy sort of arrangement over which Wetton places the first lines of vocals. This feels a bit like a jazz ballad. It’s the first cut which really feels very prog rock in style to me. They power it out into a more AOR treatment, though. Still as they move back out from that chorus the intriguing motif returns (albeit a bit more powered). This is the strongest track to this point.
Suzanne
This has a more moody ballad approach that calls to mind the best of Asia or even some of the more mellow Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It’s essentially an AOR love song, but it works well. I like this one a lot. It may not be extremely progressive rock in texture, but it does pack an emotional punch and is one of the highlights of this disc.
Round In Circles
Here we get a harder rocking number. This has some more elements of progressive rock and is one of the cuts that comes closest to making it under that category. The energetic introduction gives way to another stripped down verse sound (much like we are familiar with through Asia). The chorus has a very Beatles-like sound in the arrangement. This is another of the highlights of the album.
Do It Again
The spirit of Asia rises up on the keyboard introduction to this number. They turn it into a bouncing hard-edged jam that’s all straight ahead rock and roll. This is one of the stronger pieces on the disc, if one of the more generic. I particularly like the guitar solo section on this one.
Every Trick In the Book
A bouncing Asia like melody starts this one off. It’s not a bad piece, but by this point everything is beginning to feel a lot like the other tracks. This reminds me a bit of the pop-era Genesis mixed with Asia.
One World
This cut is a bit of a change of a pace. An interesting beat and some jazzy type features seem to create one of the more proggy pieces on the album. I like this one better than a lot of the rest of the material.
I Can't Let You Go
This has a harder edge, but also feels rather prog like. There are some echoes of Asia, but mostly in the vocal arrangement. I’d have to say that this cut is my favorite on show here.
Talk To me
Another much like the rest of the music here, this seems to combine AOR sounds with Asia type music. It’s not anything very special.
Have You Seen Her Tonight?
This one has a pretty generic 1980’s texture to it. Still, Wetton’s vocal performance makes this worthwhile with its evocative nature.
 
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