[Review] Wetton/Manzanera (1987)

The reunion of Wetton and Manzanera produces surprisingly good results, reminiscent of those Squire/Sherwood collaborations or, you know, Asia.

Kronomyth 2.0: Out of nowhere, Alphalon.

You can now add Phil Manzanera’s name to the growing list of prog-rock guitar gods (Steve Howe, Steve Hackett) who fell to earth for the folly of the top forty. With John Wetton and Manzanera no longer in the employ of Asia and Roxy Music, respectively, the pair undertook this mercenary adventure. Calling it a merger of Astra and Avalon would be misleading (since Avalon was a far better and different record), but Wetton/Manzanera does succeed at finding middle ground between the pair’s songwriting styles.

There are, as you might expect with Wetton, some love songs that are plainly overplayed (e.g.,“Suzanne,” “Every Trick In The Book,” “Have You Seen Her Tonight?”). Yet you’ll also find something unexpected: crisply produced pop songs with some awfully catchy choruses (“One World,” “Round In Circles”). Remembering that Wetton was coming off the underwhelming (if underappreciated) Astra and Manzanera the lost Explorers, Wetton/Manzanera is better than I expected. Unfortunately, too few people stuck around for this record. Manzanera didn’t have the cachet of a Howe or Hackett, and Asia had effectively burned its bridges with two disappointing records.

It’s a shame that the people most likely to be attracted to this record—prog fans, whose hearts no doubt leaped to see Alan White as the drummer—are also the most likely to be disappointed with its commercial nature. I know, Asia opened the door to all sorts of unnatural prog-eny, but this is no more frightening than latter-day Foreigner. GTR, now there’s a horror.

Original LP Version

A1. It’s Just Love (3:38)
A2. Keep On Loving Yourself (5:12)
A3. You Don’t Have To Leave My Life (4:24)
A4. Suzanne (3:24)
A5. Round In Circles (4:32)
B1. Do It Again (4:49)
B2. Every Trick In The Book (4:05)
B3. One World (3:54)
B4. I Can’t Let You Go (3:22)
B5. Have You Seen Her Tonight? (4:47)

All songs written by John Wetton and Phil Manzanera.

CD reissue bonus track
8b. Talk To Me (John Wetton/Phil Manzanera/David Gilmour/Billy Nicholls)

The Players

Phil Manzanera (lead guitar and keyboards), John Wetton (lead vocals, backing vocals, bass, guitar and keyboards), Alan White (drums and percussion) with Vic Emerson (orchestral keyboards), Kevin Godley (backing vocals). Produced by John Wetton, Phil Manzanera and Keith Bessey; engineered by Keith Bessey.

The Pictures

Design and art direction by Richard Evans ICON. Rostrum camera effects by Christina Sullivan. Photography by Tony McGee.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in 1987 in the US (Geffen, GHS/M5G-24147), the UK (Geffen, 924 147-1), Canada (Geffen, XGHS-24147), Germany (Geffen, 92 41471) and Japan (Geffen, P-13486).

  1. Re-packaged as One World on expanded compact disc on August 19, 1997 in Austria (Blueprint, BP-241-CD) with one bonus track.
  2. Re-issued on expanded compact disc in 2007 in the US (Renaissance, RMED-118) with one bonus track.

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