Guitarist Phil Manzanera rarely gets the recognition he deserves, especially here in the states. Despite mingling in musician circles with Brian Eno, David Gilmour, John Cale, and Robert Wyatt to name a few, Manzanera’s artistry is still a force to be discovered by many.
Manzanera recently released a three disc set entitled The Music 1972- 2008(Expression Records.) The collection is as eclectic and experimental as the guitarist’s playing. The material seems to be the musician’s choice; musical moments from his career since his start as the lead guitarist of the seminal English band Roxy Music.
The first disc of the set is a brief overview of the first 25 years of Manzanera’s career. Roxy Music’s “Amazona” opens the disc, which Manzanera mentions in the included EPK as being the first song he felt he wrote for the band. There’s also material from his work with Brian Eno, and his first solo album Diamond Head. The stand out tracks are those from the English experimental rock band 801 Live which included Manzanera, Eno, Bill MacCormick, and drummer Simon Phillips.
The second disc represents the last 10 years of his work, stemming exclusively from three solo albums; Vozero, 6 p.m. and 50 Minutes Later. The highlight of the set is Disc 3’s DVD featuring the documentary “Revolution to Roxy,” which is Manzanera’s telling of his career in his words. It’s from this 2008 film that one gets the feeling that nostalgia was the main catalyst for the material Manzanera chose to include on The Music 1972-2008. The DVD includes some nice live footage including a vintage 1975 clip of the guitarist performing “Diamond Head” in Sweden, footage from 1991’s Guitar Legends and a couple songs highlighting his Latin heritage with “Guantanamera” and “Mama Hue” with Manzanera Moncada.
In the liner notes, the late Ian MacDonald points out that the main influences of Manzanera’s playing are his Latin American heritage, his introduction to Western pop in the ‘60s and experimental, improvisatory psychedelic rock. This is a perfect take on all the elements that combine to make Manzanera’s playing so distinctive and tantalizing.