CD Reviews

Greg Lake - 'Manoeuvres' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 09, 2011    
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Another worthwhile release from this great label.

Two years after the release of his self-titled first solo album, label Chrysalis were pushing him to go back into the studio to record the follow-up. It was worrying that he had no songs written, having used all his surplus up on his 1981 album, but he did at least have a settled band in guitarist Gary Moore, bassist Tristan Margetts, keyboard player Tommy Eyre and drummer Ted McKenna. Also, having toured extensively for a couple of years as a solo artist he was starting to get a handle on what style would work best for him, and as a result his 1983 album 'Manoeuvres' had more of a consistent direction to it than his predecessor, even if the best songs didn't quite match the highlights of 'Greg Lake'.

'Manoeuvres' saw Lake heading in a more AOR direction, ironically similar to fellow ex-King Crimson member John Wetton whose place he would briefly take in the supergroup Asia. However, as good a some of these songs were, the album was ultimately far too ballad heavy. It starts of brilliantly with the cool guitars and pompy keys of the title track, with Lake's smooth rich vocal suiting the melodic rock direction to a tee, carrying on in the same vein with the upbeat rockers 'Too Young For Love' and 'I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight' and the excellent pop-rocker 'Paralysed' all in the first half of the album. The dramatic 'It's You, You've Gotta Believe' is the closest thing on any of his solo albums to ELP with it's acoustic guitars, majestic synths and over six minute length.

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From that point on the album ends with four ballads, and whilst each one has something to recommend it – as does the west coast Ambrosia-like 'A Woman Like You' in the first half – it gives the album too much of a low key feel. The orchestral arrangement on 'Famous Last Words' is pretty neat and was written by The Sweet's Andy Scott, but despite the stirring arrangements on 'Haunted' and 'I Don't Know Why I Still Love You' (lets leave the sickly-sweet 'Slave To Love' out of this!) the album ends with a whimper when a couple of bangs would have made it a completely different proposition.
There are some very good songs here - well-written and performed and in a style that suits Lake's voice – but to my mind nothing that quite matches the highlights of his debut album, 'Nuclear Attack' and 'Retribution Drive' in particular. It's probably a more consistent record overall and it's great to finally have it on CD with the usual great remastering job from Rock Candy. Like I said before, I doubt Malcolm Dome was given enough time with Greg Lake to make the sleeve notes more interesting (Lake repeats himself a lot!) but another worthwhile release from this great label.

Phil Ashcroft

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