Straightened by Ella Crew
Welsh rock ‘n’ roll band, not the people. This Dog can understand rock
‘n’ roll, people are a lot trickier.)
Supposedly part one revolves around the recently released
live greatest hits album sensibly titled ‘Man Alive’. Yes, both parts of
the review get a glorious 5 Stars. (Big hint, part two next week.)
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ... well,
Swansea, Wales actually. In 1968 there was a very popular little beat combo
called “The Bystanders”, who were doing very nicely thanks to the scampi
and chips night club circuit in their native country and North England.
Deciding to take themselves seriously (well, somebody had to) they turned
professional and invited a certain Deke Leonard to expand the existing
Deke was amazed to find out that by the time he joined his
compatriots, they had decided to change their collective name to Man.
Originally that did not sit well with their new lead singer and guitarist, but
it was satisfactorily explained to him by fellow singer/guitarist Mick Jones.
Man was a wonderful moniker, easy to spell, could fit in a very short space,
or, if necessary, fill up a very large space with a few big letters. But best
of all, everybody at the end of the sixties, who was hip or more likely thought
they were hip, said the name of the band at least once in each sentence -
sometimes twice, like “Hey Man, where you going Man?” The band figured they
would get free publicity every time somebody opened his or her mouth. With this
unbeatable logic Man began their path down the long and winding road of rock
‘n’ roll fame and glory. Anyhow, that is what they want us mere mortals to
Man is still going strong today, but the path has been
strewn with rocks as well as boulders. In over thirty-five years they have
released more than 30 original albums (if you add compilations, greatest hits,
etc, it runs into hundreds), but no consecutive album has ever had the same
lineup. They have done over nine thousand gigs and played in eighteen different
countries. The amount of alcohol and cigarettes they consumed over this time is
mind boggling. Then there were the TV shows. Man was always huge in Germany,
where they actually lived for two years. It would have been more inconvenient
exchanging the Welsh valleys for those of the Rhine each time they were due to
do their lengthy German tours, often playing to over 20,000 people at one show.
They essentially split up for good in December 1976, only to reform again on
April Fool’s day in 1983.
Then of course there is the personnel of the band
themselves, the actual people who play the music not just the music that
surrounds them. In over thirty-five years, twenty five people have been
featured as official recording members of Man. If you count the ones who have
just appeared live with them, again it would run into hundreds. Some like
Martin Ace (Ace the Bass) have joined and left the band on a regular basis. All
but two of them have been Welsh. The tiniest in stature, but biggest in heart,
lead guitarist Mick Jones, is the only permanent feature of every lineup,
except when some nasty brain tumor surgery laid him low for a year when his
place in the band was taken by his son George.
Deke Leonard is another steadier member of the band, but yet
this year he left again, this time of his own accord, not by the boot. Phil
Ryan is the keyboard sound of Man, but occasionally some poor soul has to be
dragged in to do a copy job. If you are lucky, Ace Martin is there, even if
it’s not at the time as a permanent member, or even on bass. Terry Williams
was there on the drums for a long time before getting delusions of grandeur and
joining Rockpile and then final world domination in Dire Straits.
For one glorious tour and album the great American John
Cipollina, ex-Quicksilver Messenger Service joined them, giving Man a three
pronged lead guitar assault. Man never came top of the bill stars
internationally, although there were pockets of areas solely inhabited by
Man-fans, especially in their homeland, Germany, and the East Coast of the
United States of America. They never gave less then 100%, whether in the studio
or their natural environment, the live stage. What of the music I hear you ask.
Well, for that you will have to wait for next week. But if you fancy doing a
bit of your own research, try bending an ear to any of the following Man
Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day
Back Into The Future
2oz Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle
Or read Deke Leonard’s wonderfully frank and funny Autobiography “Rhinos
Winos and Lunatics”.
To contact Mott the Dog
email: [email protected]