Phil Manzanera

Southern Cross

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This is a good album with an interesting history. Phil Manzanera decided to explore his Cuban roots, and attempted to mix Cuban-style music with rock. Initially he was working toward a more world music-oriented instrumental album. He then met up with is old friend, Tim Finn (remember, Manzanera produced the first Split Enz album), who took it upon himself to write lyrics for the beautiful music he heard demoed by Manzanera. This proved to be a wise move, as Finn also shared lead vocal duties with Gary Dyson. In fact, this album is not so different from the solo music Tim Finn was recording at the time (such as the album Tim Finn). Manzanera even enlisted the help of old friend Jown Wetton to sing backing vocals. The added lyrics he wrote, which are moving and add some depth to the overall feel of the album, and the guests assist the album in tipping slightly more toward rock, but that's not a problem. The instrumental songs (such as "Southern Cross") have a much more world flavor and sound achingly beautiful. The true highlight, however, is "Frontera '91," which has some of the most melodic and interesting guitar work Manzanera ever recorded. The album is nicely recorded and is structured in a nice, safe manner. The music can be either very relaxing or full of energy. The production does distract from the music as Manzanera attempted to update the sound with the use of drum machines and programming. Other than that, this is a very enjoyable album. Fans and newcomers will both find something of interest here.

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