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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Guy Manning

A Matter of Life And Death (The Journal Of Abel Mann)

Review by Josh Turner

Guy Manning is quickly climbing the ladder of progressive rock, and he is close to the edge of some real stardom. He was a featured guest on both Tangent albums. Much to everyone's surprise, he is an accomplished solo artist as well. I have been instantly impressed with his work since the first moment I laid ears on him. While View from my Window was very good, this one scores highest on my charts.

John Tipping provides the drums and a few guests help out, but Guy does all the rest. It's earth shattering how someone can come onto the scene without any warning and single-handedly make their mark on a genre. Manning is one skilled musician.

I've enjoyed all of Ed Unitsky's artwork, but the cover he created for this album is simply out of this world. It features a man, who looks a lot like Guy, sitting behind an antique desk. A colorful quill, a bright angel, and a black crow are just some of the imagery he uses to illustrate the many moods of the music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
The Dream
You don't need to wait long before encountering the biggest highlight of the album. It starts like a lullaby then quickly turns tail and hauls heiny elsewhere. The first song is smoking hot and literally blows the others out of the water. Andy Tillison is a guest on two tracks (the other being the last song "Midnight Sail"). Here he makes his mark with a Moog solo. Ian Fairbain's fiddle and Tim Moon's cello also appear on this riveting track. This is the best song I've heard from Guy. His talent just seems to grow exponentially. While the rest of the album is great, this one showcases Guy's exuberant essence. I'd like to see more songs from him like this one. Have I told you lately how much I love this song?
Nobody's Fool
While "The Dream" is in full throttle, the parking brake is engaged and we come to an abrupt halt. As we shake the cobwebs from our skull, we find ourselves in a clean and sterile place. In this hospital ward, a sweet hymn brings us to back to consciousness.
The prophecy and premonition foreshadowed here is good. It exemplifies Spock's Beard's "Go the Way You Go". There is no Neal Morse here. Instead, we get Guy's unique vocals, which put a spin on Spock's Beard's style of music. Guy's voice is deep and sincere. He is progressive rock's answer to those with an appetite for soul. You could say he is a modern day Barry White.
The River of Time
This has a seventies beat to it probably along the lines of "Nights in White Satin" by The Moody Blues. Laura Fowles' hypnotic harmonies overdub Guy's stern staccato rumblings.
Silent Man
Here we get an Irish hoedown with fiddles, flutes (these might be actually be keyboards), or as William Hung would say, "the whole shebang". Ian Fairbain's fiddles, above all, are fantastic in this song. Guy states Jethro Tull is his favorite band, which is heard quite clearly in this jovial shindig.
Falling Down? Rising Up!
Neil Harris contributes Modal Piano and percussion in this pensive and patient piece. This multi-talented artist reminds me of another Neal. Do you get the Morse code? {wink, wink, say no more} The chorus sounds like a Hebrew chant. Guy's voice is meticulous and works exceptionally well in these particular passages.
Life's Disguises
This is a brief ballad similar to the song "Cat's in the Cradle". The laid-back acoustic guitar and the stress-free singing collect Harry Chapin's well-known hit from the archives.
Out of My Life
We leave the contemporary realm and take a trip into the gardens of The Flower Kings. While Guy's keyboards show reverence to the great Tomas Bodin, Laura's sax is a key courier in the delivery of Ulf Wallander's distinct sound. This song is a happy-go-lucky leprechaun dancing in a field of four-leaf clovers.
Midnight Sail
Andy is back again with his keyboards and helps bring this album to a steadfast finish. Like the last, this represents happy days. The kids of Riddell High only know how to celebrate in style with this contagiously catchy musical number. It shares some relation with "We Go Together" from the movie Grease. I really enjoyed this album and I'd very much like to hear more from Guy. This creation demonstrates how to take a box full of ideas and pack them into one cohesively coupled bundle. All the tracks found here are good, but I'm totally infatuated with "The Dream". If he can harness that energy and put it into an entire album, the sky won't even be his limit.
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