Phil Manzanera, Roxy Music's guitarist, "was recently voted the world's fifth best guitarist in the New Musical Express poll". Manzanera has played with some of the best in rock, including, Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay, Eno, John Cale and Nico. He has also produced many albums during his tenure. John Wetton and Eddie Jobson, along with a huge cast of stars appear on this collector's album full of pictures of Manzanera at the time the album was made and his notes from his original sketchbooks.
Manzanera's first solo album, Diamond Head was originally released in 1975, during a 26 day break before the onset of a Roxy Music tour. The album has now been revisited as a 'Collector's Edition'.
"Frontera" opens full of life with cool guitars, drums and keys. It's a fast moving Latin sound, full of Spanish lyrics. It's a great dance song full of percussion and great guitar solos from Manzanera. Robert Wyatt's lead vocals, timbales and cabasa really bring the full Cuban sound.
"Diamond Head", the title song, starts off with great drums and that spacey, psychedelic sound, before Manzanera's soaring guitar solo kicks in to take the sound even higher. A great display of his guitar talents ensues as all sorts of wonderful and unique guitar sounds invade space. John Wetton's deep bass chords sounds are added to give even more volume and depth. The keys and drums support the sound and rhythm well.
Playful guitars open "Big Day" before the bass joins in with drums and keys. There is an almost choir sound, with Eno and Manzanera delivering combined vocals in between Manzanera's chords. The bass provides a good foundation for the surrounding high notes.
Deep bass sounds open "The Flex", before; Eddie Jobson's clavinet enters the soundscape along with cool sax from Andy Mackay. Manzanera's guitar drives thought the surrounding chaos and pulls that Roxy Music sound right through this instrumental extravaganza.
Deep bass and drums open "Same Time Next Week". A funky number with John Wetton and Doreen Chanter on duel vocals. John even sounds a little like Ringo at the beginning. The drums, tree bells, and congas add so much sound to this, the best track on the album. Mackay's sax is placed wonderfully. Chanter's vocals are so unique and wonderful. She sang on many famous solo albums of the time.
"Miss Shapiro" opens with cool spacey guitar chords ripping out all over the place, before the heavy drums and bass join in. Eno's rhythm guitar licks and fun vocals and lyrics bring the story to life. Manzanera showcases his talents by playing guitar, piano, organ and bass.
Fuzz bass and bagpipes from Ian MacDonald help make "East of Echo", another of the best tracks on the album. Very cool and experimental use of guitar and different sounds from percussion. The electric gliding guitar sounds are awesome. A very cool instrumental, years ahead of its time.
"Lagrima" is another of my favorite tracks on the album. The Latin sound of this song is unique with enough of the hint of Latin music, without the usual stereotypes. Manzanera's guitar is mixed well with Andy Mackay's oboe. An interesting pairing, but that is what makes this album so cool and unique.
Synthesizer, guitars and drums break free to open "Alma" Bill MacCormick's vocals add a unique sound to the track. More great guitar from Manzanera with Wetton providing great bass support. The triple string synthesizer adds even more magic and unique sound to this growing collection of sounds. The massive guitar salute solo that picks up brings back memories of some of the rock's best anthems, while at the same time remaining unique. Definitely one of the best guitar moments on the album.
Cool bass, congas and Mongezi Feza's trumpet make "Carhumba" another album highlight. Enough of that Tijuana Brass sound without mimicking. Excellent Latin beat again providing the spice without duplicating others work.
The eerie keyboard themes that open "Corazon Y Alma" will bring back memories of early '60s movies. The fuzz bass and drums bring the power on this one and Manzanera lays his guitar over the top. Bill MacCormick's vocals are great.
2. Diamond Head
3. Big Day
4. The Flex
5. Same Time Next Week
6. Miss Shapiro
7. East of Echo
11. Corazon y Alma (bonus track)