Man : Call Down the Moon

Album Cover

A very different album to the previous one, The Twang Dynasty, for several reasons. Firstly, Deke dusted down his piano stool, and spends much of the album playing keyboards. This, coupled with the more varied and subtle production skills of Ron Sanchez, makes for a more satisfying assortment of sounds than graced Twang. In fact, my main criticism of Twang was that too many of the songs had the same sound and production values; a criticism that can't be levelled at this album. It really goes through a whole range of styles, and at times visits the blues, (Dream Away), soul (Drivin' Around) and rock-a-billy (Blackout). Well, sort of. A friend even suggested one track (If I Were You) sounds like Pink Floyd. But don't let that put you off.

The highpoints of this album are as good as anything Man has ever recorded. In my book, that means it's pretty awesome. The title track is based a round a beautiful melancholy riff which developed out of the live version of C'mon, and has now taken on a life of its own. The rhythm section does nothing flashy, but fits perfectly, especially towards the end when they up the tempo. Deke bangs out the chords on piano, and Micky Jones sings and plays guitar like he was born to. The following three tracks haven't a hope of reaching this standard, and are something of a let down; If I Were You seems to go round in circles without really getting anywhere, Dream Away is OK, with some good accoustic guitar, but I don't really see the point - unless I've missed something, Man never really have had a blues background. Still, it adds to the aforementioned variety. Blackout is clearly a Leonard song, but one of the weakest to be recorded in a long time. (His treasure trove of out-takes and unreleased material, Unfinished Business, contains songs much better than this one).

Martin Ace takes his only lead vocal on the album on X-Ray Eyes, and as has been remarked in TWC, sounds uncannily like a Tears For Fears song. That's not meant as a criticism; my main gripe about this song is that the words sound like they were scribbled on the back of an envelope on the drive to the studio. Knowing Ace's reputation, maybe they were, but he can do better.

The next three tracks are all absolutely wonderful. Heaven and Hell again features Micky's effortless vocals, with Deke's keyboards very much to the fore. A witty song about adultery, this is the best song on the album not to make it to the live set. Shame. Trouble sees Deke back to his songwriting peak, with hammering piano chords set to a faintly reggae beat. Some time I really must compile a list of my all time favorite Leonard couplets, and when I do, you can be sure somewhere near the top of the list will be "She gets me hot and sweaty / Like the burnin' Serengeti". Drivin' Around is on balance, probably the best song on the album. It starts with simple piano and develops into a slow song (again) with Jones taking lead vocal (again). The guitar playing is understated, and the Ace/Weathers duo have more room to express themselves. Following a gorgeously sensual guitar solo from Micky Jones, something remarkable happens... the entire mood changes, and the riff from If I Were You returns to centre stage, with the guitar of Deke Leonard added to the fray. A superb song, superbly played, superbly produced. Twelve minutes of sheer bliss.

The album's final track injects a spot of light relief, as drummer John Weathers gets his chance to play guitar and sing lead vocal. It sounds like it was recorded live in one take, everyone seems to be having a good time, and at the end of this excellent album, they deserve it.

Released in 1995 on Hypertension music, HYCD 200 154

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