Album review: MANSUN – Attack Of The Grey Lantern

MANSUN - Attack Of The Grey Lantern

Kscope [Release date 08.06.18]

Mansun’s ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ gets a 21st anniversary re-issue with all the bells and whistles you’d expect. This reissue is remastered from the original multi-tracks and is available on all digital platforms and as a media book CD, a 2 x black gatefold vinyl, a very limited 2 x purple gatefold heavyweight vinyl and a lavish four disc limited book (3CD+DVD) including the remastered album, a 70 page book with a new extended essay on the making the record and its impact, a CD of never before heard demos, rarities & outtakes and a CD of selected Mansun BBC Sessions. Fair to say a lot of thought and effort has gone into this anniversary edition.

The line-up that recorded this debut album – that topped the UK album charts upon its original release – were Paul Draper (vocals, guitar, production), Dominic Chad (guitar, piano, synths), Stove (bass) and Andie Rathbone (drums). Mansun were oft lumped in with the Britpop explosion of the 90′s, however their music encompassed a broad reach and years later the album is held in high esteem by lovers of progressive music, long after many bands and albums from that era have faded from memory (Menswear anyone?).

Never ones to do things by halves the James Bond influenced ‘Chad Who Loved Me’ opens the album in suitably grandiose style. A song that has stood the test of time, like much of the album bar maybe ‘Egg Shaped Fred’ which does sound like early Oasis (or perhaps Oasis sounding like early Mansun?!).

Four of the songs on here were top 20 UK hit singles including ‘Taxloss’, which at seven minutes is not your normal length for a hit. ‘Wide Open Space’ (their only US single success) is possibly the most recognised tune by them and it highlights their love of big pop melody.

‘Dark Mavis’ and the hidden track ‘Open Letter to the Lyrical Trainspotter’ close the album off in style. They had so many musical ideas, from the string arrangements through to the knack of keeping a melody whilst all around it many weird and wonderful musical things were going on.

The demos and BBC sessions will be of interest to fans. These include demos of ‘Disgusting’ and ‘Dark Mavis’, plus rocking versions of ‘Skin Up Pinup’ and ‘Grey Lantern’.

An album I bought back on its original release and it still gets played regularly all these years later. Paul Draper recently toured playing this album to great acclaim. A timely reminder of what a landmark album this was and if you don’t have this in your collection now would be an excellent time to rectify that!  ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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