MANOS WILD - ROCK N ROLL DREAMER
Manos Wild- Rock n Roll Dreamer
Released:8th May 2022
Reviewed by Kate,1st November 2022
Vocals and Arrangements - Manos Wild
Life today is so complicated with train strikes hindering your every move here in the UK, worries about whether we can afford to put the heating on this winter and a permanently leaking kitchen roof (if you’re me). Music too is fraught with worry: will the new Batmobile album be as good as the last one? Will the bag restrictions get even worse in London venues? Will there ever be another Mad Sin show in the UK?! Well, it’s time to take a breather from all of this stress and listen to a record that’s the aural equivalent of basking in the sun on a Greek beach, sipping a cocktail and topping up the tan.
Manos Wild is the occasional frontman of Greece’s premier and smoothest Rockabilly band, Breathless, and while his solo records are frequently full of his re-imagining of classics, ‘Rock N Roll Dreamer’ is a fully original collection of beautifully nostalgic tunes. He’s a regular on Greek radio and TV and has extended his retro reach across Bulgaria, as well as achieving viral status in the US with Breathless’ first video ‘Cruising for a Bruising’. His solo work occurs alongside his vocation as a Rockabilly frontman and comes from having far more music in him than can be expressed via a slap bass group: his personal catalogue includes gospel, Christmas albums and Elvis tributes. Imagine the last show of the summer before you head back to school, and Buddy Holly is headlining with Roy Orbison, and your head’s in the right space for ‘Rock n Roll Dreamer’.
Stretch yourself out on a beach towel and let these tracks warm you up….
Rock n Roll Dreamer: “I have a dream to share….” croons Manos over some of the lushest harmonies from this or any other decade. It’s a delicious ballad about daydreaming you’re in another decade, and captures the optimism of the rockabilly scene. It’s the musical version of a glass of sweet lemonade on a hot summer’s day.
Be Bop Ducktails: sadly, this song has nothing to do with Huey, Dewey or Louie. Instead, it’s a moody, cowboy number with this simple repeating guitar lick and lashings of snare drum. If you were swooning with Manos on the last one, you’re now getting your biker leather on and getting ready to start a road trip with him.
Beg Borrow or Steal: he does love songs so terribly well, and his pleas to the object of his affections are punctuated by this great soulful saxophone. So much of this record is undercut by the picturesque backing vocals and he knows he’s on to a winning formula here.
Keep on Comin’: Manos channels the King to good effect, with an accompaniment on the spoons, in this tale of a man who just can’t stop bopping along. If you had a friend who asked for an example of ‘fifties music’, you could do a lot worse than playing them this number which seems to blend an entire decade.
All n All: I’ve mentioned Roy Orbison already, and it bears repeating how much the Big O has influenced Manos’ vocal style. If you wanted a smoother version of the Travelling Wilburys experience then this is the song for you, and the line ‘you came into my winter and painted flowers there’ will thaw the most frozen of cynical hearts.
The Girl with the Ponytail: country music in the sub-genre of ‘admiring beautiful rockabilly girls’? Yes please! Finally his guitarist gets more of a free rein with these pure retro solos, and this number gives us more of a taste of what the live Manos experience is like. There’s this purity in all his love songs that has the spirit of a teen crush and it’s such an innocent pleasure.
One Reason Why: oh, this is such a stunning love song with such a minimal instrumental accompaniment. The vocal layering is the star here, and if this record was released in a different era this would be a song the teens would swoon to at the sock hop.
Stray Cat Baby: the title refers to the dress sense pioneered by Mr Setzer and co, and the lyrics refer to Manos’ socks far more than you’d think. With references to Bill Haley’s classic line about the seafood store, it’s a rockin’ ode to choosing the perfect outfit for a weekender punctuated with those guitar licks that take this song above the mundane.
Jump Cat Jump: you know when you’re at a fifties night and the DJ drops some Eddie Cochran, and your feet just start moving? That’s the feeling Manos tries to capture here. It’s simple and has this under-produced demo vibe where Manos almost loses control of his own excitement while singing.
Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid: a hugely rich, piano ballad about a breakup, placing both of my favourite songs as the bookends to this record. He hasn’t done many sad songs on the album and his voice suits heartbreak to a tee.
This isn’t an edgy record, or an album designed to challenge your views on the rockin’ genre. It is a lush, fabulous record that is a breath of fresh, romantic, rose-scented air. A beautiful vocal showcase of what the right backing vocals can do to turn a great voice into an iconic one, this is an album that will make you swoon and kiss and enter a utopian version of our favourite era that’s free from any negativity or stress.