Phil Manzanera: Diamond Head

Phil Manzanera
Diamond Head

Guitarist Phil Manzanera opened up his first solo album, 1975’s Diamond Head, with a mesh of his Roxy Music and Latin American roots. The opening track “Frontera,” featuring Soft Machine’s Robert Wyatt singing in Spanish, was a superior way to introduce the listening audience to what the experimental guitarist’s solo career would be.

Earlier this year, Manzanera released a collector’s edition of Diamond Head on his own Expression Records. The liner notes feature his thoughts on his solo debut 36 years later, as well as copies of his notes during the recording sessions and the original press release from the release.

Manzanera also includes two extra tracks on the new edition. The first, “Carhumba,” was recorded in 1975 after Manzanera was inspired by a performance of Nigerian musicians at the Commonwealth Institute. The result is an interesting mix of experimental guitar work playing off congas and trumpet.

The other bonus track “Corazon y Alma” is a prequel to the tracks that became the Diamond Head album. Manzanera’s early group, the Quiet Sun Band, recorded the 10-minute piece in 1971. It provides insight, as many of its parts and riffs were recycled for the project.

Diamond Head was an all-star record of the time, featuring Brian Eno and King Crimson’s John Wetton, as well as Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay, Eddie Jobson and Paul Thompson. Its mix of instrumentals and vocal rock songs are a clever fusion of musical styles. Diamond Head has much the same feel as a Roxy Music album sans Bryan Ferry. It’s a gem of the era and definitely worthy a spot in everyone’s music collection.