I was not sure whether to buy this one as I felt that Phil Manzanera's last few albums had been patchy, but I am glad that I did. He has got three things right.
Firstly, he seems to have realised that many of us out there want to hear his guitar -not his singing. Secondly, he has surrounded himself with a tight group of musicians that all contribute without dominating. Thirdly, he has found a theme - the Firebird guitar, that enables him to go back to his roots and this release evokes the heady days of Quiet Sun and Diamond Head. His guitar work is top form as ever, although a bit more mellow, supported by some really punchy keyboards and a strong rhythm section. Great to see Charles Hayward back with Phil.
It is an instrumental album, with the odd piece of spoken word - eg a segment of an old film on 'A few minutes'. The only track that doesn't really convince is the jam ' Mexican Hat' but that can be forgiven, given the strength of the rest of the material.
Hopefully he can get the same musicians around in a year or so and bring out a sequel.