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14 May 2017

Phil Manzanera “K-Scope” 1978 UK Prog Art Rock, New Wave

Phil Manzanera “K-Scope” 1978 UK Prog Art Rock, New Wave
Recorded in the spring of 1978 at Yes bassist Chris Squire's home studio, K-Scope featured three founding members of the Split Enz/Crowded House: Eddie Rayner (keys), Tim Finn (lead vocal) and brother Neil Finn (backing vocal). Manzanera also enlists percussion heavyweight Simon Phillips, good buddies John Wetton and Bill MacCormick (both bassists and vocalists), and saxophonist Mel Collins, among several others. The band strong arms the solid pop/rock structures and approaches the instrumentals with the same verve. The literally "coolest" tune in the set is also Manzanera's personal favorite, the breezy "Gone Flying." The composition (and performance) is a fine example of how truly excellent a pop song can be. Manzanera's atmospheric "echo guitar" is at the core of the piece, with Phillips contributing refined, offbeat, fluid percussion, and MacCormick (arguably the most appealing vocalist on the album) providing equally exceptional bass work. The song is supplemented by the next cut, the quirky, instrumental "N-Shift," featuring MacCormick's pronounced, funky basslines. Other stand-out sounds include the opener, "K-Scope," a charged instrumental featuring Mel Collins on sax; the reggae rhythm of "Cuban Crisis"; Wetton's lead vocal on "Numbers," and Manzanera's closing instrumental, "You Are Here." The bonus cuts include two energetic performances from 801's 1977 tour ("Remote Control" and "Out of the Blue") and a demo version of "Slow Motion TV" (titled "It Don't Matter to Me"). The frantic, anxious "Remote Control" features a hot Andy Mackay tenor sax solo, and Roxy Music's "Out of the Blue," while failing in the vocal department, showcases Bill MacCormick's thoughtful, occasionally fast bass playing. Though probably not Manzanera's most accomplished work, K-Scope remains one of his most interesting and enjoyable projects. [In the label's ongoing effort to give Manzanera his due, Expression Records later released K-Scope with three bonus cuts.]........... by David Ross Smith.....

 Phil Manzanera is rightly considered as one of the greatest rock guitarists, up there with all the legends mostly for his prog-related work with Roxy Music, a band that was so original in a period when style was a jean-dripping world of "basse-couture" and where new sounds were constantly brewing. Brief footnote: Bryan Ferry actually auditioned and was rejected for the King Crimson vocalist slot before kicking off Roxy whose first album was produced by Peter Sinfield! Formentera Lady with Ferry crooning would be somewhat Bee Zarrr! Anyway, Manzanera was the fretman/frontman for Quiet Sun, whose Mainstream album was universally greeted with applause, even though the music was completely in the heavy Soft Machine exploratory style that rejected commercialism with snobby aplomb. If Manzanera requires some more prog pedigree (he later co-wrote a few Pink Floyd tunes with a guy called David Gilmour), one will notice that he produced the spellbinding first Split Enz album, the quirky "Mental Notes" to the utter puzzlement of the rock world! But if you demand PROG proof, well "K- Scope" was recorded over a period of 8 weeks in Chris Squire's home studio, with gold and platinum discs decorating the walls! Besides Kiwis Tim and Neil Finn (later to become the immensely popular Crowded House) and the amazing keyboardist Eddie Rayner, this album also contains such prog stalwarts as Mel Collins (yeah! That sax!), former Quiet Sun, 801, Matching Mole and Random Hold superburp bassist Ian McCormick and the inimitable Simon Phillips on drums whose credits are about 2 kilometers long! Roxy pals Andy Mackay, John Wetton (toured with Roxy after KC and before his Uriah Heep gig) and the incredible Paul Thompson make stellar contributions, as well as Kevin Godley and Lol Crème of 10CC fame. Finally Francis Monkman of Curved Air and Sky makes a brief cameo. Most of these fine musicians also appeared on the previous Manzanera/801 "Listen Now" album. A fine record this is with the mental instrumental title track kicking the proceedings into nervy gear, Manzanera's Farfisa organ as much a highlight as his swerving guitar work. "Remote Control" is a brief but subsonic punko-prog tune that is speed incarnate with Tim Finn's demented vocals zipping along uncontrolled (remotely or otherwise). When he sings "Still itching for the great panacea", you realize this is absolutely insayne, mayte! Offering the polar opposite in terms of velocity, "Cuban Crisis" is reggae-prog with a Latin tinge that is a sloooow burn, bass heavy and snip-snap drum rhythm, aided and abetted by Rayner's upright piano funkying up the mood, the spotlight on Tim Finn's sweaty bluesy delivery that verges on perfection "Run run run run". "Hot Spot" keeps the heat squarely on the manic beat, this time conducted by that wacked out Collins saxophone, delirious as usual, tortuously morphing into a disco beat (similar to Love is the Drug") but weirder , as "The neon radiation makes your body glow". A schizophrenic guitar solo closes out this little gem which is not what it appears to be. "Numbers" is John Wetton 's turn to shine, both vocally and lyrically by including references to King Crimson and Roxy Music classics ("CP8 5938") with Phillips drums ripping along and Manzanera flipping another understated six string jewel. "Slow Motion TV" is a return to quirky prog-pop that is totally noncommercial, closer to 10cc than anything else in Popland. "Gone Flying" is the guitarist displaying (by his own words)"nifty" chords both on rhythm and lead guitars, creating distinctive sounds and colorations as opposed to the standard soloing prevalent in those days, with some exemplary work by Simon on drums and neat vocals and bass by Bill McCormick . "N-Shift" is another sentimental instrumental with Phil's experimental, non regimental string bending style (are there enough insanities here do you think?), a groovy jam that is a pure delight to any prog lover out there (or in here, for that matter). The best track here and the proverbial cherry "Walking Through Heaven's Door" is a prog master track, again featuring Collins, and after a dreamy almost Canterbury like intro, the menacing bass of Wetton takes this smoky sucker into some murky undertows that grows like a creepy vine, slithering mercilessly until morphing into a third section that explodes all over the speakers, the title repeated over and over like hallucigenic dementia. The original album ended on the Manzanera one man show "You Are Here" where our friend weaves a rich tapestry with Andalucian themes mixed with various Yamaha CS80 atmospherics that stamp his prog visa for life. The bonus tracks on the reissue offers a raunchy live longer version of Remote Control with a randy Andy Mackay sax solo and a simply philthy Phil lead, lewdly better than the studio version, then a short demo version of "Slow Motion TV" called "It Doesn't Matter to Me" but turns out really sloppier than the final studio version but shows how musicians mould their compositions from rough to shiny and "finalement", Roxy's famous "Out of the Blue" that quite obviously cannot reproduce Ferry's smooth voice but offers a good Manzanera solo as well as some fine oboe work from Mackay. "K-Scope" may not necessarily be everyone's cup of tea but please bear in mind that this was created in 1977, the year the Sex Pistols reared their very ugly (and I do mean ugly) heads and altered the musical horizons only temporarily (for their limited talent could only last as long as the three chords they had learned). This remains fresh and vibrant today and comes recommended to those for whom audacity is a prime quality. 4.5 K tszirmay ...............

 I happen to love this album. Sure, it's not truly prog, but it is adventurous, in the same way as a 10cc album might be. The album is extremely well produced, and extremely well written. I really find the whole thing quite infectuous.
The proggiest tracks are the instrumentals, K-Scope, N-Shift and You are here. But I enjoy the vocal tracks even more. The lyrics are tongue in cheeck, again like 10cc. Who can resist Hot Spot, with lyrics about dying of radiation poisoning (among other things) while dancing away at a disco? And the "number" puns sung by John Wetton in Numbers are a delight.

It's while listening to this that I realized that one of the main reasons I have been disappointed by later Manzanera albums is the lack of Bill MacCormick's bass. His bass lines add much to Manzanera's albums, and were essential to their Evolver ..............

Musically 1978's self-produced "K-Scope" may be Phil Manzanera's most commercial and enjoyable solo release. Surrounded by an all star cast of friends and supporters, including Lol Creme, Kevin Godley, Simon Phillips, John Wetton and three quarters of Crowded House (Neal and Tim Finn and Eddie Rayner), the set certainly sports one of the year's most impressive cast of players. Anyone familiar with Manzanera's more experimental outings is likely to be surprised (and perhaps even disappointed) by how commercial material such as 'Remote Control', the reggae flavored Cuban Crisis'', and 'Walking Through Heaven's Door' is. All three selections would have made dandy top-40 singles. Elsewhere, tracks such as 'Numbers' and 'Slow Motion TV' are a little quirkier, recalling something out of the weirder part of 10 CC's catalog (or Godley and Creme's solo catalog). Longstanding fans will at least be happy to know that Manzanera's patented guitar sound is scattered throughout the album, including some tasty soloing on the leadoff title track instrumental and 'Hot Spot'. .......  by......RDTEN1 .........

Line-up / Musicians
- Phil Manzanera / guitars, Echo guitar (7), Farfisa organ (1), electric piano (9), keyboards (5,10), Yamaha CS80 synth (9,10), producer

- Tim Finn / lead vocals (2-4,6)
- Neil Finn / backing vocals (2,3,6)
- John Wetton / vocals (5), bass (9)
- Lol Crème / "gizmo" (1), backing vocals (4)
- Kevin Godley / backing vocals & hi-hat (4)
- Simon Ainley / rhythm guitar (2,6), guitar & vocals (11-13)
- Dave Skinner / Yamaha electric piano (2), Yamaha CS80 synth (6), keyboards & vocals (11-13)
- Eddie Rayner / Yamaha electric piano (1), piano (3,6), Moog bass (4), Yamaha CS80 synth (7,9)
- Francis Monkman / piano (8
- Mel Collins / saxes (1,4,6,9)
- Andy Mackay / tenor sax (11), oboe (13)
- Bill MacCormick / bass, vocals (3,7,9,11-13) & backing (2,6) vocals, drums (4)
- Simon Phillips / drums, electric percussion (3)
- Paul Thompsom / drums (2,6,11-13)

A1 K-Scope
A2 Remote Control
A3 Cuban Crisis
A4 Hot Spot
A5 Numbers
B1 Slow Motion TV
B2 Gone Flying
B3 N-Shift
B4 Walking Through Heaven's Door
B5 You Are Here

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..