These albums were released by Greg Lake during a short space of time – October 1981 and July 1983 respectively – due to the way the former ELP bassist/vocalist’s solo deal with Chrysalis Records had been structured.
Lake was never happy with the arrangement, and approximately three-and-a-half decades later, neither record has really withstood the passing of those years.
And yet it might all have been different. The news that Lake was to work with Gary Moore was greeted by a mix of inquisitiveness and excitement, and yours truly was among the crowd at 1981’s Reading Festival when the pair blew off the doors with a scintillating set that featured the highlights of the Greg Lake album, as well as tapping the careers of both artists, including revisions of several ELP greats, plus 21st Century Schizoid Man and In The Court Of The Crimson King (a King Biscuit Flower Hour recording of this show is well worth checking out).
In the cold light of day, however, Greg Lake is inconsistent and misshapen. The Lake-Moore alliance was no great masterplan – each appreciated the other’s music, happened to share a manager and, frankly, was scratching around in search of direction. Lake had been working with several members of Toto, hence the album’s overall mid-Atlantic flavour. Dominated by Moore’s squalling guitar, its rambunctious opening track, Nuclear Attack, stands out like a sore thumb, but things quickly drift into an easy-listening, keyboard-friendly comfort zone. The Long Goodbye, The Lie and Love You Too Much (the latter a Bob Dylan co-write) stand out among a fairly mediocre bunch, and although Lake’s voice sounds fulsome and fruity on It Hurts and Retribution Drive, Crimson or ELP-style innovation is not so much in rare supply as completely non-existent.
Neither record has really withstood the test of time.
If a great rebirth of Lake’s solo career had still seemed possible, the tepid Manoeuvres halted all such notions in their tracks. The synth-drenched, sub-Michael Bolton blandola of A Woman Like You, Haunted and I Don’t Know Why I Still Love You can only be described as ghastly.
Both albums were released individually on CD for the first time in 2011 by Rock Candy, albeit minus bonus tracks. This latest double-disc edition adds an unremarkable outtake from Manoeuvres – Hold Me – and exhumes three interesting yet dispensable tunes from Lake’s Toto experiment.
If you hoped the sleeve notes might offer some insight into Lake’s headspace during this rudderless period of his history then tough luck – bizarrely, they instead opt to reprint Prog writer Malcolm Dome’s Rock Candy essays!