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Thread: Manband

  1. #1

    Manband

    Just finished Deke Leonard's Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics, and I don't think I put the book down since it crossed my hands as a belated b-day present. What an account of the 70s! I was a relative late comer to to the Manband, they didn't come across my radar until the kerfuffle regarding the Slow Motion album and the Alfred E Neuman cover, and it was much later that I discovered their earlier works.

    How about a Manband thread?

    "Always ready with the ray of sunshine"

  2. #2
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    One o' those bands I've heard of forever, but never sampled. My impression -- from zero exposure -- is that their tune writing was unmemorable.

    Hopefully somebody will set me straight.

  3. #3
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Welsh act modeled after the American West Coast Psych bands. Only moderate interest here.

  4. #4
    I have few of their early albums..although they are hit and miss as far as the compositions, they produced some really great songs. They are definitely worth exploring


  5. #5
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I've explored some, and like most of what I've heard. What I like best is Back Into The Future - the boxed edition Esoteric put out is very nice.

    Yeah, I read a few chapters of Deke Leonard's "Land Of My Fathers: Welsh Guitarists," and it was very amusing and interesting. The only reason I didn't finish it is that I was reading it on a mobile phone and not enjoying that way of reading. I need to finish it on my Kindle. I'll have to check out this book about Man.

  6. #6
    John Cippolina from Quicksilver Messenger toured with the band in 1974 or so, so yes, they were very much West Coast inspired. Guitar rock, with the lovely Clive John and later Phil Ryan on keys, but sometimes a four piece. Very unpretentious rock, which I guess I never grow tired of and find very easy to listen to. Once they signed to MCA, their last three studio albums were more pedestrian rock, maybe like Golden Earring or later Pretty Things. There's a real sweet spot in their discography, maybe 1970 to 1973, that should appeal to the psych/underground/prog fan. I'd recommend the following albums; Man (1970) Greasy Truckers (1972) and the aforementioned Back Into The Future (1973) -- and these tracks: "Love Your Life", "Many Are Called", "C'Mon", "Love Your Life" and of course this gem, "Spunk Rock":



    "Always ready with the ray of sunshine"

  7. #7
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    ^ Yeah, they probably remind me of QMS more than anyone else.

    I have some live recordings from last decade, iirc, and they were a little more proggy sounding.

  8. #8
    I love them; always did. The trick is to expect absolutely *nothing* other than exactly what you get on listening, as they weren't trying to be anything but what you hear. In other words, not attempting "a Yes or Krimson". It also helps to somewhat contextualize them; Man were part of the quasi-rootsy, "alternative" post-hippie UK underground initially stemming from the Ladbroke Grove community, later relocating more to rural environments - in sound, that is. Other acts involved and associated were Mighty Baby, Quintessence, Edgar Broughton Band, Cochise, Gypsy, Global Village Trucking Co., Quiver, Help Yourself, Northwind, Quicksand a.o. They shared a common love for US west-coast rock and lamented the collapse of 60s freak-culture, also bonding with contemporary bands of a different musical nature but an equal ethos, like Hawkwind, The Pink Fairies and Nektar. Altogether I'd say Man's music merged blues-rock, psychedelia, progressive and embryonic pub-rock.

    Their most consistent and coherent albums were Do You Like It Here Now? Are You Settling In? ('71), Be Good to Yourself At Least Once a Day ('72), Back Into the Future (live/studio double from '74; the live part displays their immense energy and chemistry as a live unit), Rhinos, Winos & Lunatics ('74) and the sadly underrated The Welsh Connection ('76).
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  9. #9
    A very difficult band to get into, for me at least, and still haven't reached there. I never dismissed them though, they remain like an annoying, unsettled account. So thanks to the OP for this thread, already some essential information is being transmitted here.

    My problem I guess is I never understood what they were trying to achieve as a band (maybe just playing good music???). The changes in style are remarkable - from record to record, from song to song in the same record, or even within the same song. They remind me of Nektar on this one.

    So it has been hard for me to grasp their Man-essence in a way. I will be listening some in the next days to see what I've been missing.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    My problem I guess is I never understood what they were trying to achieve as a band (maybe just playing good music???). The changes in style are remarkable - from record to record, from song to song in the same record, or even within the same song. They remind me of Nektar on this one.
    First, see my previous post. Second; this is one of the main reasons why you ought to treat yourself to Deke Leonard's biography - it's both informative, intelligently written and at times almost relentlessly witty. And you can read so much of an explanation as to their 'white-collar popularity' just from the very style in which it's authored; there's almost as many signs between the lines as in them. As for what the Manband were trying to achieve, the book essentially says it all; it was great, great fun, and in time even provided somewhat of a living (for a couple of the members, at least). Even at their most musically ambitious, Man were wholeheartedly unpretentious in their artistic intentions. They didn't dream of highbrow recognition, or high-art status, or commercial world domination; they simply wanted to be paid for doing that which gave them pleasure and a sense of purpose.

    Of course, Leonard would insist that Man were rock'n'roll to the core - either doing "Prelude/The Storm", "Erotica", "We're All Good Clean Fun" or gibberish in "Alchemist". But Yeah, I can certainly concur that their total output was always uneven in quality. You can't win 'em all, or even score on all hits. Still, hearing that intense force of clean-guitar onslaught in the live rendition of "C'Mon" never leaves me neutral.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  11. #11
    ^ I read your post, it provides a lot of insight. I was just listening to Back into the Future and the live songs were like a different band, C'mon blew me away. On the studio tracks a huge WTF arose in my weary mind. In terms of my cluelessness on how to approach this.

    But yeah, this "unpretentiousness" factor that others have also mentioned is very evident, and even unique. It's part of their appeal on me. As I said I intend to listen more.

    I hope Spacefreak appears from somewhere to contribute here, I know he's a big fan as well.

  12. #12
    Deke's book is honest, funny, self-effacing, intelligent and above all entertaining - just like the Manband. I agree with SS, here modus operandi was to survive playing music. The book begins with Deke joining the Bystanders, one of the two embryonic bands that fed into Man. The Bystanders were a successful group, earning a good living playing live and doing session work. However, like most other bands during the late 60s, they underwent the transformation to Man, at the dawn of the psychedelic era, with the arrival of Deke. Man went through a lot of personal changes, but if you think about it, it was really a shuffle of about ten guys, from the Bystanders, The Dream and Help Yourself. So a bunch of lads that chose a particular lifestyle (rock-n-roll), absolutely loved it, and stayed with it however they could. Anyway, reading Deke's book (which btw is available for cheap as a Kindle book) one gets the feeling that they had no plan beyond tomorrow!

    "Always ready with the ray of sunshine"

  13. #13
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I didn't realize there was a connection between Man and Help Yourself, but I guess I didn't realize or forgot that Help Yourself was Welsh. I'm now very interested to know who from Man went to or came from Help Yourself. I'm off to order that Kindle book!

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    forgot that Help Yourself was Welsh. I'm now very interested to know who from Man went to or came from Help Yourself.
    HY mainman and prime songwriter/rhythm guitarist/pianist/vocalist (and a damn fine one at that) Malcolm Morley and bassist Ken Whaley are all over the Rhinos album, to the extent that "California Silks and Satins" almost sounds like a HY outtake. The Helps were fabulous, btw. - they created some absolutely haunting and captivating songs. The Return of Ken Whaley, especially, is one of the truly underrated British rock albums of the early/mid-70s. IMO they fared far better at this thing than their more famous compatriots Brinsley Schwarz (with Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe; to whom there was also a connection).
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  15. #15
    For my taste there's pretty much nothing of substance here.

    After wading through several albums, 'Love Your Life" was the only track I found even remotely memorable.

    I applaud them for their tenacity, but I don't think they had much more than that going for them. Longevity doesn't automatically equate to quality.

  16. #16
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    The now-out-of-print anthology Keep On Crinting was a great introduction to the band, not only having much of their best material but also a superb live version of 'Prelude/The Storm' unavailable anywhere else. IMHO it's superior to the original, less 'produced', a slower, more dramatic tempo and loses that big operatic intro which I've never been that bothered about anyway.

    I agree on the MCA album The Welsh Connection being underrated. The track 'Car-toon' has an instrumental ending which is absolutely stunning. 'The Ride And The View' alone is worth having the album for, though. I heard a live version of this track I think recorded at a 90s performance at Glastonbury and it's, again, knock-out, with some really long guitar soloing that builds and builds.

  17. #17
    I would say they are very much of interest to the Prog fan ! Some of their material is straightforward `west coast' (Welsh style), but a lot of it is superbly developed extended brilliance. I think their greatest 20 minutes is `Spunk Rock' from `Greasy Truckers', an absolute tour de force. It's not really about vocals as much as the superb drumming of Terry Williams and twin guitars of Micky Jones and Deke Leonard (both sadly no longer with us). They avoid every blues cliche in the book, which is what makes them so great I think. `Many Are Called But Few Get Up' is one of the greatest prog tracks of all time. They were superb live...the curious should get `Keep On Crinting' which has many of their greatest moments including the above tracks. For the Prog fan ?? Definitely !

  18. #18
    Matt! polmico's Avatar
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    I have nothing to say beyond “I like them.” I bought one of those cheapo paper sleeve boxes last year. I suppose I should upgrade to the Esoteric releases.
    I want to dynamite your mind with love tonight.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by veteranof1000psychicwars View Post
    For my taste there's pretty much nothing of substance here.

    After wading through several albums, 'Love Your Life" was the only track I found even remotely memorable.
    This is perfectly understandable, as they were always an acquired taste. Most definitely so. They were neither "proggy prog" nor particularly off-kilter, never consistently experimental or even refined in overall approach. They were an old-school rock group, members presenting each other with ideas and a collective to decide upon whether these were to be developed into finished product. Their albums showcase highly planned and carefully constructed parts next to completely raunchy and/or apparently spontaneous and unfinished ones.

    Here's what I wrote on the "Prelude/The Storm" piece in connection with Deke Leonard's passing - and I still stand very much by it:

    A most eloquent slice of instrumental British acid rock/whatever from '69 is this, from Man's second album (2 Ozs of Plastic With a Hole In the Middle), second at that IMO only to Floyd's Ummagumma of the same year. This goes through all the phases of a simulated trip, with those fascinating jangly guitars underneath the piccolo whistle and a carpet of cymbals alluding wind and weather, howling gulls and the lot - and then there's sudden "stiffness" in a distorted ostinato leading into that tune of total tranquility with female whispers. This is truly psychedelic mastery if there ever was any:

    ]
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  20. #20
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    ^Unfortunately I can't find the live version I mentioned- I think it was recorded in Essen.

    'Would The Christians Wait Five Minutes?' is another gem, from a somewhat uneven album.

  21. #21
    Orcopian
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    Its difficult for me to be objective discussing Man - I grew up in Swansea in South Wales where Man were based (if not all originally from) so from an early age Man had legendary status. I think most fans would agree that its live where Man have always been at their best, the many live releases testify to this. They were probably most effective on the longer jamming songs, in the studio they rarely managed to match the live sound, and like many bands in the 70's some of their studio albums are dated by the keyboard sounds. The albums which had more guitar based sound have stood the test of time better. A mentioned earlier the studio albums with the Help Yourself connection are probably the best, Whino's, Rhino's and Lunatics is excellent and I l particularly love Micky Jones vocal and guitar solo on Kerosene. There are lots of great live albums to chose from but the one I always go back to is maximum darkness. Deke's books are an essential read, others have summed up well the great mix of humour, detail and dignity in his writing. If you are a newcomer I'd say pick a few good live albums to start with then if still engaged dip into the studio albums.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Orcopian View Post
    I particularly love Micky Jones vocal and guitar solo on Kerosene.
    I've probably written this a dozen-or-so times in here, but that solo (from ca. 4:00 in "Kerosene") is one of my all-time fave electric axe workouts in rock. So utterly and tastefully detailed and nuanced, so attentive in development of tension and exhibition of contrast - that guitar is virtually speaking. Deke Leonard's (about halfway in) is brilliant as well, but Micky Jones' contribution here somehow serves as the entire objective of an otherwise skewed totality-structure. Those chords in the middle of the song, after the vocal chorus and before backdropping at the piano riff - in a way it says it all; "We're just playing here, that's all it is, there's no 'message' besides that!"

    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  23. #23
    Orcopian
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    Yes totally agree, the strange thing is that its quite different from most of Micky's solo's, I've always wondered where it came from. Leaving aside my previous comment about keyboard sounds, there is nice keyboard solo at the start of the track with what I think is sinewave patch that reminds me of the solo on 'the dog the dog he's at it again' by caravan.

  24. #24
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    'Four Day Louise' always struck me as an underrated song on that album- again, superb guitar playing.

    I think the 'they were better live' thing is possibly overplayed. The first four studio albums are all patchy but by Be Good To Yourself... I think they got the hang of things. There's a nice run of albums then.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    The first four studio albums are all patchy but by Be Good To Yourself...
    I find Do You Like It Here Now? anything but patchy. There are some odd dispositions at play, but there's a constant flow of interesting ideas and fine playing. It's an extremely layered and varied record, but stuff like "All Good Clean Fun" actually veers into uncharted areas as far as then-current UK progressive rock was concerned.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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