No way, Man

MAN: "Maximum Darkness" (UA)

In 1971, a press handout which accompanied the first album by Glenn Cornick's Wild Turkey described Man as "an experimental Welsh band." The connection between the bands was that Jeff Jones, Man's first drummer, was wielding the sticks with Turkey (Tweke Lewis, who was Turkey's guitarist, also went on to spend a brief spell with Man in '73). No doubt they based that statement on the evidence of Man's second, third and perhaps fourth albums, as for the few years after 1969 and "Two Ounces of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle" Man were certainly one of the most adventurous British bands, although "experimental" is taking it a bit far. But the experimental tag would have been justified in connection with Man's recent tour with John Cipollina, formerly with Quicksilver Messenger Service and an ex-legend in the eyes of Micky Jones and co. The tour was an experiment no other British group would think of, let alone go through with. It didn't work. Ours not to reason why, let's just say it was a worthy venture on both sides and for that reason alone deserved something better. "Maximum Darkness" is the evidence that Man and Cipollina did not gell. One track only, "Babe, I'm Gonna leave You," shows the combination at its peak, with Deke Leonard taking the few lead vocal lines confidently, with superb harmony from the others and a couple of neat guitar licks on the way. "Codine," the other number from Cipollina's past, is a cut above the remaining songs and again has a powerful performance by Leonard on vocals, highlighting some fine harmony singing with tight instrumentation. The other three tracks let the album down, not because the material is weak, but because Man have previously played it much better. "7171 551" is a very lumbering version compared to that on Deke's "Iceberg" album and there is not much point in having a third version on record of "Many Are Called But Few Get Up," especially as the one recorded live at Penarth is a superlative piece of music and easily surpasses this version. "Bananas," on which Cipollina's contribution has been mixed out, is not THE alternative recording to the studio number, which itself was unsatisfactory, and has been given far better treatment in the past. "Maximum Darkness" is a souvenir album, and not much more. For Man fans who heard Cipollina for the first time on this tour and want to hear more; don't buy this, but go get a Quicksilver album. And for Cipollina fans who want to hear more of Man, put "Maximum Darkness" back in the rack and instead get any of Man's early albums, except the first, and preferably the aforementioned "Two Ounces Of Plastic." - E.M.

Melody Maker October 11, 1975
Reproduced in The Welsh Connection, Oct/Nov, 2005

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Last updated: 5-Oct-2005