[Review] Phil Manzanera: K-Scope (1978)

An 801 album in all but name, featuring the same spectrum of players from his last few albums.

Kronomyth 4.0: Prismism.

The second “solo” album (i.e., not credited to 801) from Phil Manzanera enlists the help of familiar faces including half of Split Enz (Tim, Eddie and some guy named Neal), both Godley AND Creme (who were surgically joined at the hip at this point), 801ers Bill MacCormick and Simon Phillips, and former Roxy musicians John Wetton and Paul Thompson. Of course, the question on most people’s minds is “How much does this sound like Roxy Music?” and the answer is “Not nearly as much as it sounds like pre-Frenzy Enz and G&C with better manners.”

K-Scope mixes in a few instrumentals with songs featuring slightly prickly and sometimes silly subject matter, rarely trying the same thing twice but not as eclectic as Robert Fripp’s Exposure, for example. Eno’s early albums were more extreme, the Enz more openly tuneful; a cross between G&C’s L and Wetton’s Caught In The Crossfire seems like a reasonable place to plot this. Or, of course, Phil’s last album, Listen Now.

The Roxy references are felt mostly in the guitar work (Bryan Ferry’s old license plate, “CPL 5938,” is even namechecked in “Numbers”) and the presence of saxophones in the mix (courtesy of Mel Collins). Tim Finn takes lead vocals on four tracks, though I’ve never found him to be a suitable mouthpiece for other people’s ideas. Bill MacCormick and brother Ian (a music journalist) provide songwriting support, and Bill’s two turns at the microphone (“Gone Flying,” “Walking Through Heaven’s Door”) might be the two best tracks on here. John Wetton’s vocal cameo on “Numbers” is a low-key performance that neither excites nor disappoints.

K-Scope was apparently mixed quickly to make way for Roxy’s triumph-my-fanny return, and marks the end to Manzanera’s post-Siren dream. The 801-era albums are all worth owning at some point, assuming you’ve already acquired all of the proper Roxy releases and Ferry/Eno albums aforehand. The closing “You Are Here” is especially interesting, and points the way toward the instrumental solo album, Primitive Guitars.

Original elpee version

A1. K-Scope (Phil Manzanera) (4:32)
A2. Remote Control (Ian MacCormick) (2:36)
A3. Cuban Crisis (Phil Manzanera/William MacCormick) (6:02)
A4. Hot Spot (Phil Manzanera/William MacCormick) (5:01)
A5. Numbers (Phil Manzanera/John Wetton) (3:28)
B1. Slow Motion TV (Phil Manzanera/William MacCornick/Simon Ainley) (5:31)
B2. Gone Flying (Phil Manzanera/William MacCormick) (4:27)
B3. N-Shift (Phil Manzanera) (3:12)
B4. Walking Through Heaven’s Door (Phil Manzanera/William MacCormick) (6:52)
B5. You Are Here (Phil Manzanera) (3:16)

CD reissue bonus tracks
11. Remote Control (live)
12. It Don’t Matter To Me (demo)
13. Out of the Blue (live)

The Players

Phil Manzanera (guitars, Farsifas, lead guitars, keyboards, echo guitar, electric piano, Yamaha CS80, synthesizer), Bill MacCormick (bass, backing vocals, vocals, drums), Simon Phillips (drums, electric percussion), Eddie Rayner (Yamaha electric piano, upright piano, Moog bass, Bosendorf piano) with Simon Ainley (rhythm guitar), Mel Collins (saxes, baritone sax, soprano sax), Lol Creme (Gizmo, backing vocals), Neal Finn (backing vocals), Tim Finn (lead vocals), Kevin Godley (backing vocals, hi-hat), Francis Monkman (piano on B3), Dave Skinner (Yamaha electric piano, Yamaha CS80), Paul Thompson (drums A2/B1), John Wetton (voices on A5). Produced by Phil Manzanera; engineered by Greg Jackman.

The Pictures

Cover concept by Chris Hopper. Design by Cream.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track in December 1978 in the UK (Polydor, POLD-5011), the US (Polydor, PD/8T-1-6178), Australia and India (Polydor, 2310 633), France (Polydor, 2302 083), Germany (Polydor, 2344 127/3100 475) and Japan (Polydor, MPF-1216) with inner sleeve; reached #176 on the US charts. 8-track features different track order.

  1. Re-issued on elpee, cassette and CD in 1991 in the US (EG, EGLP/EGMC/EGCD-37).
  2. Re-released on expanded, remastered CD on February 5, 2001 in the UK (Expression, EXPCD18) with 3 bonus tracks.
  3. Re-released on super-high material CD in 2008 in Japan (Arcangelo, ARC-7291).
  4. Re-released on SHMCD on April 29, 2015 in Japan (Vivid Sound, VSCD-4300).

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