Saturday, May 21, 2016

GREG LAKE: "S/T and Manoeuvres"

Rating: Re-issue
Label: CreativeMusicalArts 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

ELP! ELP! David Coverdale in distress? Lassie, hairspray, and spandex to the rescue? Nah. Hold your horses and bitches for that matter. It's a battle cry of Greg Lake (also ex. King Crimson) and the rather smashing 2CD re-release holding the lake's first two solo albums. The self-titled debut in 1981 and Manoeuvres from the year of 1983. Both albums have received a new remaster which has the personal approval of Lake. The 20 page booklet includes extensive liner notes by the legend. Plenty of notes and stories.

So. Long time member of a band which the phrase 'Super-Group' was effectively created (ELP), and suddenly you lose your comfort zone, when the band split up in 1978. What do you do next? Well. Lake decided to ditch the Progressive Rock sound and went for straight rock arrangements and L.A. in 1979. Indeed. Lake recorded at first some tracks with all the TOTO musicians and three songs are featured on the 1981 debut as bonus tracks. "You're Good With Your Love" was written by Eddie Schwartz (Pat Benatar) and it's got that typical late 70's/early 80's West Coast sound. Great stuff. Also worth mentioning, "Cold Side of a Woman", which got that Chris de Burgh sound going on at eleven.

In the end. Lake decided to skip the pure 'west coast sound' and went home to U.K. to record the debut with former Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore (RIP). Moore, leaving Lizzy in 1979, and without a recording contact at the time (1980) joined Lake's touring band. Such was the impression Moore made on Lake that the opening track is actually one of his: Nuclear Attack. Also featured on Moore's own album 'Dirty Fingers' which was recorded a year later (1981), but not released for a another couple of years. Track two, "Love You Too Much", Lake co-wrote with Bob Dylan. Overall, perhaps just a tad bland, but, not too shabby.

Manoeuvres (1983), the improvment since the debut and again with Moore as guitarist and co/writer of three of the tracks. It's got several tracks in that mature prog/AOR sound that Asia was delivering at the time. In fact. Close your eyes while listening to the ballad "I Don't Know Why I Love You" and you're there. Shortly afterwards. Asia asked Lake to join them as a replacement for John Wetton, which he did, but it didn't last long. It's otherwise a mixed bag with a couple of Moore rockers and The Moody Blues/Chris de Burgh. Not that strange after all, considering that Asia are heavily inspired by the Moody Blues. Plenty of keys and while the bonus track, Hold On, isn't much to write home about, it's still a nice platter.

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