Sunday, May 17, 2009

Man - Maximum Darkness (1975)

Man were one of the most promising rock bands to come out of Wales in the early '70s. Along with Brinsley Schwarz, they helped establish the core of the pub rock sound, but they played louder and also had a progressive component to their work that separated them from many of their rivals. The group originated as a Four Seasons-cum-Beach Boys vocal outfit, based in Swansea, Wales, called the Bystanders, who began experimenting with a tougher, more progressive sound on-stage. They were encouraged to pursue this direction, and Man were formed — Micky Jones (lead guitar, vocals), Deke Leonard (guitar, vocals), Clive John (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Ray Williams (bass), and ... Read More...
Man - Maximum Darkness (1975) feat. John Cipollina
Micky Jones--Guitars, Vocals
Deke Leonard--Guitars, Vocals
Terry Williams--Drums, Percussion
Martin Ace--Bass, Vocals
John Cipollina--Guitars, Vocals
1. 7171-551 2. Codeine 3. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You 4. Many Are Called, But Few Get Up 5. Bananas
I was reading through the list of dedications, and noticing that just about everybody is from the San Francisco area (even though the album was recorded in England), and was thinking: 'These are all the people they had to go through in order to meet John Cipollina (just kidding guys).
This is a magnificent live album, three lead guitars, a wall of great hard rock, and an intensity (God, I'm starting to use that word too much) which is not for the faint of heart. I once went over to the house of a friend who claimed to be a fan of great guitar music. He played me some Steely Dan and I played this album, and he was very intimidated by the music. This is loud, it's nasty and its full of delicious licks.
It starts off with Deke's "7171-551" from 'Iceberg' which had been expanded from a perky little single to an 11 minute assault on the senses. Next are "Codine" and "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", two old standards that Quicksilver had originally recorded for the 'Revolution' soundtrack album (which was somewhat rare at the time, but was later reissued), Deke's vocals on "Codine" are incredible. For the B-side there are two old classics "Many Are Called" and "Bananas" both turned into extended jams with all three guitars getting a chance to stretch out.
Ted Koehorst's commentary on allegations that Mickey Jones went back and rerecorded much of John Cipollina guitar work (see his liner notes for 'Be Good To Yourself') deserve refutation, but since I really don't know any better, all I can say is that if they are true I prefer to live in an alternative reality where Minni-Vanilli can sing, Michael Jackson is innocent, and Mr. Cipollina's guitar work didn't need any studio tampering, and shame on you Mr. Koehorst for spreading vicious allegations about the non-existence of Santa Clause, etc.
But the real highlight of this album is Deke's longest set of liner notes to date (reproduced in glorious HTML for the first time below). It's a classic essay on the history and habits of Man's extended family, with further notes on the philosophy of car theft, police notes in triplicate, the dangers of Argentine Corned Beef and bolas in general. Last night I met and old record critic friend of mine at a concert and he could still quote large sections of the notes, having last read them some 15 years ago. He also wondered why I couldn't, and all I could say was that this was the first time I had read them while not stoned. ( info )
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