Phil Manzanera: Diamond Head review – A lost gem

Manzanera was eager to experiment with styles in a way Roxy Music could not

Diamond Head
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Artist: Phil Manzanera
Genre: Alternative
Label: Floating World

Roxy Music fans – particularly of the group’s first five era/style defining albums of the early-mid ’70s – view Diamond Head as a lost gem.

The band's guitarist, Phil Manzanera, released his solo debut album in 1975, very much aware that Bryan Ferry ruled the Roxy roost, but eager to experiment with varying styles in a way the group weren't allowed to.

To this end (cue Roxy obsessives getting noticeably hot under their retro-futuristic collars), Manzanera gathered band mates present (Andy McKay, Eddie Jobson, Paul Thompson) and previous (Brian Eno), as well as the kind of characterful guests (Robert Wyatt) that would please fancy-pants, proto-punk aficionados.

The result isn’t by any means an approximation of a weirder Roxy Music, but there are several notable crackers here that make you wonder whether a weirder version wouldn’t have been such a bad idea.


Naturally, Eno’s contributions are class: his two songs, Big Day, and Miss Shapiro (one of his best ever tongue-twisters) provide the album’s idiosyncratic spine.

The standout track, however, is Alma, a guitar wig-out that showcases precisely what Manzanera could get up to when Mr Ferry wasn't breathing down his neck.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture