50 Minutes Later Review - Sat 8th Oct

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50 Minutes Later Review
08 October 2005

50 Minutes Later is the follow up to '6PM', last years Phil Manzanera 'album. The album mirrors Phil's last two in that he takes on the lead vocal duties.

The albums opener 'Revolution' is a mid paced rock track with some great guitar playing. Phil has his amp turned up to number 11 with plenty heavy rock licks giving Slash a run for his money. The vocals sit well and remain within Phil's own limits

The opening to 'Technicolor UFO' could be mistaken for U2 with Phil claiming back the guitar style and sound The Edge stole from him 20 years ago. The vocals are given the same treatment as Green Spiky Cactus from last years '6PM' Phil's lyrics make reference to his musical past and coupling ‘Soft Machine’ with ‘Beauty Queen’ and mentions his influences by name checking 'The Beatles and The Stones'

'That's All I know' opens with some delicate Spanish guitar swirling and panning across the stereo mix. This track is Phil's most passionate sounding vocal on the album. The song builds up throughout and is driven by Paul Thompson's drums and Phil's staccato keyboards strings giving the song a radio friendly commercial sound.

'50 Minutos Mas Tarde' is co written with Phil, Eno & Robert Wyatt. The track opens up with a Spanish street side cafe version of the cocktail lounge used in the prelude to Roxy's 'Re-make/Re-model' then fades in a blend of 'Criollo' from 1982's 'Primitive Guitars' & Eno's 'Another Green world'. The half spoken half whispered Spanish vocals over an ethereal piece that has two sections segued with Nigel Simpson's grand piano making way for Robert Wyatt playing cornet to the fade out with its many sound effects fading into the opening of 'Desaparecido' recreating the footsteps to 'Love Is The Drug' this time leading to a creaky side door in a seedy alleyway

'Desaparecido' begins with Latin guitar and accordion driven by a four on the floor bass like something you would expect from the Cab Calloway Orchestra. The chorus is more of the sort of rock track you would expect form Manzanera and the change from one musical genre to another here works and flow together smoothly. The duet between Mr & Mrs Manzanera (Claire Singers) is the most interesting vocal on the album.

'Dusza' opens with the train horn heard at the opening of 801 live. This is the shortest track on the album. The sound effects and treatments of Manzanera's guitar act as a prelude to 'One Step.'

'One Step' opens with Phil's sweet sounding distorted and sustained guitar with the track having a quasi reggae beat provided by the dual drummer/percussionist duties supplied by Paul Thompson & Robert Wyatt. The guitar solo is what you could hear on a Santana album. A Late night mainstream track and may be how the follow up to Avalon could have sounded if it was recorded in 1985.

'Swimming' opens with a Beatlesque chord pattern with George Martin influenced string stabs created by Phil's keyboards. This track is co written between Phil and his new bride Claire Singers. This is the catchiest song on the album and would be the likely candidate for any single that may come from the album.

'Bible Black' is a dark mysterious track that loops around a 4 bar chord pattern in the way that 'In Every Dreamhome A Heartache does'. It is no surprise to see that this song is co-written with Brian Eno. The track closes in the way Jansen/Berbieri have closed many David Sylvian tracks with inventive use of percussion and timbre. This track is probably the most interesting track on the album.

'Till The End Of The Line' opens with Phil strumming on acoustic guitar like something from Bowie's 'Space Oddity' album. Jamie Johnson's bass playing is akin to Danny Thompson's work on Sylvian’s 'Brilliant Trees'. This song shows how Phil's song writing has developed with this being a strong example of his writing and arranging skills. The arrangement being showcased by some fine playing by all the musicians and in particular Paddy Milner's grand piano. A 'secret track' fades in after a minute of silence, which is the sort of sound affect that would have easily opened up Ladytron if Eno had pressed a different button on his synth in 1972.

The album includes the obligatory 'bonus track' with an Enotonik (Phil's word not mine) version of 'Bible Black'. The added title 'Mainstream Version' is a name check to Phil's first non Roxy album rather than suggesting the track would be covered in an 'X-Factor' audition. The mixing and sound affects are similar to what Eno did with Bryan Ferry's 'The 39 Steps' on the 'Mamouna' single. This version is not just merely a remix of what is already on the tape. Andy MacKay makes an appearance with some ambient soprano sax like his recent SAMAS album blending with Brendan Jury's Viola. Phil's guitar appears from nowhere to end the track with the bass playing borrowed form the close of Ladytron for a psychedelic race to the finish with a cacophony of Phil's guitar and Andy's soprano sax melting as the track fades.

At the time of the release of last years '6PM' it was intimated by Phil that he had this follow up more or less ready for release. If anyone thought that this was merely 50 minutes of leftovers from those sessions then they couldn't be further from the truth. The strongest tracks here are as strong as the strongest on '6PM' if not stronger. The pace of this album is maintained throughout by comparison to '6PM', which slowed down on the more progressive rock second half. There is a good balance of tracks here showcasing what Phil is best at and that is his inventive guitar playing as well as some well-crafted songs. There are instrumental passages here that may give a hint to what the forthcoming Roxy Music album may sound like in parts. Eno, Andy MacKay, Paul Thompson, Phil Manzanera, a familiar sounding line up.

'50 Minutes Later' be released by Expression/Hannibal on 24th October 2005. Signed copies will be available online at Phil's webshop soon.

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