Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Phil Manzanera

and the Sound of Blue Band - Live in Japan

Review by Gary Hill

While Phil Manzanera might be best known in some circles for his time in Roxy Music, he's had quite an interesting solo career over the years. He's more often than not progressive rock based, but does move from that territory at times. This new live album is a killer set that shows off the various sounds and styles of this musician. It's a real success as far as I'm concerned.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review

Electronics open this and the cut gradually builds out from there. Some killer guitar comes in over the top creating some intriguing melody after a time. This instrumental is a tasty way to start the set.

Coming out of the previous tune, this is a killer version of "Tomorrow Never Knows." I love the female vocals on this (Sonia Bernardo). The whole track is cool both honoring the original and bringing a bit of a space rock, prog edge to it. In some ways this makes me think of Hawkwind a bit.
There is a soaring rocking quality to this. Yet there is a decidedly prog rock edge built into it, too. There are moments that make me think of 80s or 90s era King Crimson. There are also some space rock elements here. I love the keyboard work on this. The track gets into some powerhouse jamming before it's all over and done.
Out of the Blue
Bernardo's vocals return on this rocker. The cut has a mainstream rocking groove to much of it, but there is a killer jam later that has some funk and fusion built into it. It's a real powerhouse instrumental movement that lands things back in the prog zone.
In Every Dreamhome a Heartache
With both male and female vocals, this track is slower and a bit odd. It's more of an artsy kind of musical journey. It's rather moody. The saxophone is a nice touch. Of course, all of that changes after the half way mark when the cut powers up into a killer hard rocking jam that reminds me of Pink Floyd a bit.
I Want You Back
The rhythm section serves as the backdrop for the vocals as this tune gets an intriguing performance. The bass work is killer. It sort of has to be, though, as the bass and drums are the only instrumentation on this.
Spacey textures merge with a bit of a world music turned fusion vibe as this cut grows outward. Around the minute and a half mark it fires out into some smoking hot fusion jamming from there. The guitar soloing on this is very expressive, calling to mind Carlos Santana at times. The bass work gets pretty funky. This is a smoking hot instrumental that's actually one of the highlights of the performance.
A mellower groove makes up the backdrop for this tune. The lyrics are not in English. There is a real jazz groove here, made more apparent when the saxophone joins.
Bala de Plata

The lyrics to this one are in Spanish, and there are a lot of voices singing at different points here. The tune is built on a cool jazzy groove. It's a lot of fun. There is even a bit of a rap mid-track. The jamming later in the tune brings some more jazz to the number.

More Than This
A cool rocking groove is at the heart of this number. While it's not one of the highlights, it's a solid tune.
High Atlas
This instrumental is high energy and a lot of fun. Built on a fusion foundation there is more to it than that, including some hints of surf guitar.
East of Asteroid

I dig this instrumental a lot. It seems to shift from more mainstream rock to fusion and even some space rock. There is a great balance between slower and mellower and faster more rocking stuff. There is a killer funk based jam late in the piece.

Space rock, fusion and more seem to merge on this cool. The vocals bring a bit of a soulful vibe to the number. This thing is all class.
I Can't Help Falling in Love with You
Here we get a cover of an old classic. This has a stripped down musical approach and a soulful; vocal delivery. It's slow moving, rather sparse and still quite effective.
A powerhouse instrumental, this thing just really rocks. It has plenty of jazz in the mix along with a healthy helping of prog rock. There are some hints of space rock, too. It's a smoking hot number that's a highlight of the set.
Diamond Head
Piano brings this one into being and holds it for a time. The cut works out from there to a classic rock sounding jam that's quite tasty. It's another cool instrumental.
Stormy Weather
With some spacey elements, there is also plenty of jazz here. This is tasty number that works quite well.
Take a Chance with Me
As this comes into being it really feels a lot like Pink Floyd to me. It eventually makes its way to more of a mainstream rock jam for the entrance of the vocals. The instrumental section later in the track includes some cool guitar work along with some retro organ stylings. It turns out to some seriously soaring prog rock as it continues from there.
Love Is the Drug
Roxy Music's best known tune gets a killer live visit here. It's a safe bet that you've heard this song before. This rendition is quite faithful.
No Church in the Wild
I love the groove to this thing. It has a lot of soulful texture along with plenty of prog rock. The guitar solo is purely on fire. The group vocal section later in the piece is a nice touch. There is plenty of rock music built into this thing along with jazz and more. It's one of the highlights of the set.
Let's Stick Together
Coming in with a real old school rock and roll vibe, this is a lot of fun. There is some killer horn work and some great guitar playing. High energy and classic, this one isn't the proggiest thing here, but it's cool.
Chan Chan
More of a jazzy kind of number, there is a lot of Latin sound built into this. In fact, it really reminds me of something Santana might do. There are short solo sections built into this thing that get introduced as they go along.
Bonus Track: Chan Chan (Studio Version)

As you can probably gather from the title and such, this bonus track is a studio rendition of the previous number. It's even more Latin in style and delivery. This isn't a huge change, but is a cool number all the same.

More CD Reviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Progressive Rock

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./