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Man - Man CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.00 | 56 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
2 stars The third album by Welsh band Man is a frustrating and inconsistent collection played by a talented group simply not knowing which direction to head in. A band known for blurring country and blues-rock with psychedelic (frequently West-Coast styled) sounds and some progressive sophistication, this self-titled album is perhaps a little too ambitious, with as many ideas as possible thrown in together to confused results, although there's still decent music here and there throughout.

`Romain' is a nicely played chugging slow-paced grooving boogie with a blistering electric guitar solo in the middle. Make sure to hang around for the slightly bent acoustic finale that comes out of nowhere, easily the most interesting part of the track. You sure wouldn't know the band were from Wales on `Country Girl', unsurprisingly a foot-tapping country rocker with pleasing pedal-steel guitar and soothing upbeat group harmonies. It's nothing of interest at all for prog fans, but it reminds of the Byrds' screwy space- rock/country/psych album `Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde', so it's easy to be forgiving of it. `Daughter of the Fireplace' is a blistering break-neck four minute blur of noisy blues-rock, full of howling vocals and pounding honky-tonk piano. It's punchy and energetic, but the jammy version on their live album `Live at the Padget Rooms, Penarth' wipes the floor with it.

Of much more interest to progressive fans are the two extended pieces, beginning with the 13 minute `Would The Christians Wait Five Minutes...'. Disorientating mangled guitar reverberations, plodding drumwork, spacey keyboard effects and delicate piano brings a dusty drifting haziness. By complete chance, the shimmering keys make it resemble Pink Floyd's classic `Echoes' from a couple of years later, and the uplifting main theme reprised in two spots even calls to mind German band Novalis. Some wordless crying harmonies in the final wouldn't sound out of place in a climactic western movie showdown. Truthfully it's not the most eventful of longer pieces, and there's barely anything resembling an actual tune or melody, but it sure sounds plenty cool and mysterious.

The album closes on a side-long piece, `Alchemist'. A twinkling ambient synth build, crashing cymbals, deranged wailing voices with some slow-burn electric noodling briefly calls to mind `Spare Chynge' from the Jefferson Airplane or a Grateful Dead improv. Soon imposing heavy dark riffs straight off a Black Sabbath album, wavering sound effects and spiralling drumming stomps down on the listener. Halfway through the piece evolves into a brooding acid-rock stroll with rambling spoken-word passages before finally wrapping on a bass hoedown with devilish accordian. Sadly the piece is really just a bunch of slightly interesting fragments and improvisations strung together with no sense of flow or cohesion, and it kind of pushes the friendship at almost 21 minutes.

If you are wishing to investigate the Man band for the first time, it might be better to initially stay away from this one. Perhaps one of their numerous dynamic live albums, such as the above mentioned `Penarth' disc would be a better starting option, showing off the band's talented skill of more focused improvisations and jams while still delivering energetic performances. But be alarmed by the two star rating, it's simply due to this being an inconsistent work, a clear case of multiple musical personalities, from a band that had several better albums to offer very soon after this one.

Two stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 2/5 |


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