Sufficiently recharged via Taxi, Ferry got down to business and the following year released Mamouna, notable among other things for being his first recordings with the help of Brian Eno since the latter split from Roxy Music back in 1973. Rather than playing the wild card as he so often did, though, Eno concentrates on (to use his own descriptions in the credits) "swoop treatment" and "sonic awareness." Slightly more to the fore are Ferry's usual range of excellent musicians and pros. Steve Ferrone once again handles drums as he did on Taxi, while Richard Norris also reappears on loops and programming; other familiar faces include Nile Rodgers, Robin Trower (the album's co-producer), and Carleen Anderson. One of the most intriguing guest appearances comes at the very start -- "Don't Want to Know" has no less than five guitarists, including none other than Roxy's own Phil Manzanera. Whereas his '80s work seemed to fit the times just so, with his own general spin on things providing true individuality as a result, on Mamouna Ferry seems slightly stuck in place. Compared to the variety of Bete Noire, Mamouna almost seems a revamp of Boys and Girls. Combine that with some of Ferry's least compelling songs in a while, and Mamouna is something of a middling affair, almost too tasteful for its own good (and considering who this is, that's saying something). There are some songs of note -- "The 39 Steps" has a slightly menacing vibe to it, appropriate given the cinematic reference of the title, while the Ferry/Eno collaboration "Wildcat Days" displays some of Eno's old synth-melting flash. Overall, though, Mamouna is pleasant without being involving.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett