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Charlton, Manny: Sharp/Sharp Re-loaded

The name Manny Charlton should be very familiar to most hard rock fans as one of the founding members & lead guitarist of Scottish legends Nazareth. After leaving the band in the early 1990s, Charlton entered into a solo career, and Sharp/Sharp Re-loaded are his 2004 & 2005 releases, presented here in one set from the folks at Angel Air Records, complete with a few bonus tracks. Joining the guitarist are drummer Steve Froese on both records, along with a few other guest musicians, with Charlton handling the bulk of the guitar, bass, and vocal chores. Most of the tracks are new interpretations of old Nazareth tunes, originals, as well as covers of songs near and dear to Manny.

If you are expecting some of the trademark Manny Charlton thunder present on all those great Nazareth classics from the '70s & '80s, you've come to the wrong place. Much of Sharp/Sharp Re-loaded falls into a folky/blues vibe, with Charlton's acoustic picking and sizzling slide licks ever present. As a singer, his voice, while not strong, fits well into more folk based material, his gentle, almost straining whisper permeating tunes like Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" and the acoustic blues "Muddy Water". The instrumentals "In Her Eyes"& "Cold Front" are quite good and feature some great guitar work, and the heavy blues of the classic "Rollin' 'n' Tumblin' " is loaded with scorching slide guitar. His new rendition of the old Nazareth staple "Please Don't Judas Me" is an all acoustic affair that loses the haunting, menacing tone of the original, while "All Along the Watchtower" has a reggae feel to it, which, to these ears, doesn't really work. Overall, much of Sharp is kind of a bore, despite some tasty guitar work, as you are kept waiting for some of the old fire from Manny Charlton which never quite appears.

Over on Sharp Re-loaded, the trend continues, as mostly folk based arrangements take precedent on these re-workings of old Nazareth songs, Charlton originals, and covers. "Fallen Angels" misses the old Dan McCafferty roar, and the cover of Fleetwood Mac's hit "The Chain" is limp at best. Nazareth's "Cinema" sizzles with hot riffs and slide guitar, one of the first moments of fire on either album, and the guitarist also cranks up the volume on "Pushin' Daisies" & "Nearly Fine" for some truly heavy moments. The old classic "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star" also features some stinging lead guitar work, and Dylan's "Wicked Messenger" takes on a bluesy, almost Dire Straits styled bent, but Charlton's vocals again are straining to the point where a dedicated lead singer might have made more sense. "Who Do You Love" sees the guitarist firing out some wicked slide licks for a raucous good time. It's a shame there isn't more of this upbeat material here.

The 2005 release definitely has more of what we consider 'classic Manny Charlton', but for the most part both albums here are extremely laid back and somewhat of a snooze fest. If you can get past the part of the guitarist not returning to his thunderous roots with Nazareth, this mostly bluesy, folk based collection of songs can actually be a nice listen. Manny's guitar work is tasty yet understated, showing he's certainly mellowed with age. Nazareth fans will certainly want to own this, but casual fans proceed with caution.


Track Listing
CD 1 'Sharp'
1. Muddy Water
2 My Baby Left Me
3 All Along The Watchtower
4. A Deeper Well
5. Anna (Go To him)
6. In Her Eyes
7. Hang On To A Dream
8 Rollin'n'Tumblin'
9 Blue Moon Of Kentucky
10. Please Don't Judas Me
11. Shelter From The Storm
12 Burnt Sienna
BONUS TRACKS
13. I Can't Stop The Rain
14. Cold Front


CD 2 'Sharp Re-loaded'
1. The Chain
2. Cinema
3. Sumkinda
4. Strength Of Strings
5. So You Want To Be A Rock'n'Roll Star
6. Norwegian Wood
7. Nearly Fine
8. Who Do You Love
9. Wicked Messenger
10. Fallen Angel
11. Swallow
BONUS TRACKS
12. Mexico
13. Pushin'

Added: September 20th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Angel Air Records
Hits: 1474
Language: english

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