Manning - 'Akoustik #2'

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Manning - 'Akoustik #2'

An alternative for a Sunday morning and with twelve songs and over an hour of music, it's also value for money.

Better known for his involvement with Manning (the band), Guy Manning (the musician) has put the band on ice with the intention of what U2 once called "dreaming it all up again". 'Akoustik #2' continues the acoustic theme of 2012's 'Akoustik' by taking songs from the Manning catalogue and re-arranging (or as people like to call it, re-imagining) for the Akoustik mood. Composed, arranged and produced by Manning himself, there's the bonus that added to the nine re-workings are three new songs which slot in pretty seamlessly – for anyone who doesn't know the Manning catalogue you probably wouldn't spot the join.

After the minor alarm of the opening few seconds where the keyboard has that working men's club feel about it, there's the relief when 'White Waters' settles into an altogether more gentle and laid back feel which is quite calming and soothing. In fact, "relaxing" sums up the album pretty well. It has a plainly English feel, not quite reaching back as far as the Kinks and Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd of the late sixties, but there's a definite ambience in both the music and the lyrics which are encapsulated in 'Saturday Picture Show'; one of the new songs and one for anyone old enough to recall the days of Grandpa's cuddles, ice creams on summer sands and all sorts of references to the televisual delights of the era. It dips into an eccentric Jethro Tull lyrical style of Ian Anderson which brings to mind all sorts of Tull and Camel associations.

The touches of flute throughout the record, which begin in 'Songs From The Bilston House', are similarly reminiscent of Anderson's work, and all of a sudden you're starting to hear Anderson-like inflections in some of the vocals, particularly on the processed voice of second new track 'Yesterday's Hero' where Ian Fairburn's fiddle makes an appearance adding to the Folky atmosphere. Stephen Dundon's flute goes on to play a large part in these re-workings and along with the clarinet and sax of Marek Arnold, takes many of the tunes into the casual lounge listening territory.

To be honest, anyone looking for something to nod your head along to might be pushed as there's nothing which blows your socks off, although 'Icarus & Me' comes close to a Tull-like acoustic romp, but this is more of an alternative for a Sunday morning and with twelve songs and over an hour of music, it's also value for money.

Mike Ainscoe

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