Phil Manzanera - 6PM (with David Gilmour)

Phil Manzanera 6pm

Released in the UK by Hannibal/Rykodisc, July 2004. Catalogue number: HNCD1471

Available to order through these links: UK/Elsewhere, France, or Germany.

An album representing a reunion of the classic line-up of Roxy Music (albeit missing Bryan Ferry) is pretty big news, and for Pink Floyd fans, the added bonus of David Gilmour appearing on the album is an added incentive to check it out.

6PM is Phil Manzanera's 6th solo album (hence the title - which has nothing to do with the time!), and features Brian Eno, the saxophonist Andy Mackay who provides his trademark poise and restraint throughout the album, and Paul Thompson on drums. Phil also gets some of his other friends along for the ride - Robert Wyatt and Chrissie Hynde.

It is fairly restrained in places, which is no bad thing, and Manzanera's vocals are crisp and well-mannered. The subject matter ranges from love songs, and an almost prog-rock excursion, through to a heartfelt tribute (Wish You Well) to music writer and author Ian MacDonald, who committed suicide in August 2003.

The album is full of great tracks, from the opening notes of Broken Dreams, which sets the scene for what is to follow well. Love is a big factor in the album - demonstrated in the wonderful Love Devotion (one of my favourites) and Always You.

Phil Manzanera 6PM CDThe instrumental track Manzra has the performer in fairly noodly mood, keeping things ticking over until the Cissbury Ring cycle of songs kicks in. Cissbury Ring is a hillfort in Sussex, England, created by early settlers in the area, and has a bit of a reputation of an area where "unusual things" have been said to happen, and is sited in a great defensive position. The set of five songs, lasting around fifteen minutes, is a great romp, touching on classic prog-rock, and also features David Gilmour providing some sublime guitar moments, vying with Manzanera.

The first of David's two appearances comes on the aforementioned Always You. Starting with a swell of background music, and the same note that starts Sorrow, you'd be forgiven the fleeting recollection of that earlier track. However, this is a lighter and more joyful song, and features David's whistful notes throughout, mostly skipping along in the background. This is followed by the final track on the album, Sacred Days, which concludes things in a more upbeat and energetic way, and includes a great, trademark Gilmour guitar solo.

Both the tracks with Gilmour (and indeed the other Cissbury Ring tracks) also feature Robert Wyatt, long-time friend of Pink Floyd, here providing trumpets and drums.

The sincerity and poise of the collection, coupled with faultless musicianship, brings you back time and again to the album. The inclusion of Gilmour on it, I found, didn't bring a mediocre album a bit more gravitas, instead, it made a great CD even better. David Gilmour fans will find their man on good form, and won't be disappointed with the rest of it.