THE PAT McMANUS BAND – Dark Emerald Highway (2016)
Originally appeared two years ago but now re-released at the end of ’16 by his new record label, “Dark Emerald Highway” is the fourth album from ex Mama’s Boys guitarist / songwriter Pat McManus, with his THE PAT McMANUS BAND.
Irish Pat McManus is a fighter, proving his stamina and resolve have not been shaken over the duration of what has been a tough uphill career.
Despite supporting and touring with Cheryl Crow, Bon Jovi and Ratt amongst a plethora of other artists and bands in the past with various incarnations of a band; whether it be solo, Mama’s Boys or Celtus for example, he works relentlessly hard and deserves far more credit than it seems he receives.
Incidentally, there’s a track on this new album called ‘Lazy Days’ which is a moment of reminiscing about the Mama’s Boys lyrically speaking.
‘Dark Emerald Highway’ is dedicated to Pat’s Dad, John McManus Snr, and contains ten tracks which are accessible Rock music with a bluesy leaning and incorporating a selection of other influences. Joining McManus on the road out touring while he tackles lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars along with his contributions on violin and Bouzooki, are Marty McDermott on bass guitar and backing vocals, and drummer Paul Faloon. The studio-based line-up is more extravagant.
The opening song ‘S Before X’ s infectious and driven as is ‘Let’s Turn It Up’ with the latter sharing a hook-laden chorus which may find itself pulling at your memory when you least expect it.
‘Transformations’ starts out with a shuffle before settling in to its groove. Punching with each step forward during the verses and then finding an altogether different gear as it beckons another listen.
‘Loving Kind’ is one highlight that sways with a gentle presence and a familiarity which brings sincere warmth with it.
‘Cold Town’ hints at a soft Celtic shadow over what is a slow-burning bluesy classic rock track. The reflective solemn tones are removed once the ears are addressed by the evident funk element brought to the table for ‘Fallen Angel’.
Another catchy straight ahead rocker can be unearthed when you hear ‘Shame On You’ which leads us in to ‘Belfast Boy’, an unadulterated and pure Celtic dripping with the essence of the Irish flavour with each and every single note and chord. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine Phil Lynott singing on this track if he was still alive. It is the longest track on this collection and is a celebration and a joy to listen to.
Still holding true to his Celtic roots and mixed with his own distinctive style of bluesy Classic Rock, it is easy to see just why Pat was nicknamed “The Professor” when he was just a boy starting out.
Indeed, with the sad and untimely passing of Rory Gallagher, and then Gary Moore, Pat McManus can lay claim to the title of ‘The last of the truly great Irish blues rock guitarists’.
On “Dark Emerald Highway”, as always, Pat McManus plays with fire, passion and commitment in a way which many textbook players – and I include the hugely overrated Joe Bonamassa in this category – can only dream of mastering.
In fact, if ol’ JB ever considers putting down his guitar, maybe Pat might think about giving him a job carrying his empty cases…
Don’t miss this very, very good album.
01 – S Before X
02 – Transformations
03 – Loving Kind
04 – Lets Turn It Up
05 – Lazy Days
06 – Cold Town
07 – Fallen Angel
08 – Shame On You
09 – Belfast Boy
10 – The Bolt
Pat McManus – vocals, guitars, violin, bouzooki
Paul Falloon – drums
Marty McDermott – bass, backing vocals
Paul Marshall – drums (Lambbeg Drums)
John McCullough – keyboards
Mudd Wallace – percussion, keyboards
Maura Donaghy – backing vocals
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