Man : Maximum Darkness

Album Cover

Man are one of those bands who tend to release live albums almost as often as studio efforts, especially when you take the bootlegs into account. Maximum Darkness is, I think, one of the better examples. Ken Whaley had left the band, and Martin Ace had been called off the sub's bench to play bass, while ex Quicksilver guitarist john Cippolina was billed as special guest; abd various songs migrated from the Quicksilver live set to the Man band repertoire.

7171-551 kicks off in thunderous fashion, and it seems like the song had been specifically designed with Martin Ace's direct style in mind - always simple and to the point, but never dumb. (The bass playing, not the person. Well, come to think about it...) The guitar playing is equally forceful, with an awful lot of wahwah, which though an integral part of the original, somehow seems a little over the top here. Still, it's a hugely effective opener.

The following two tracks are perhaps more song oriented than the rest of the album, but it does show off in Codine just how well Deke can convey real feeling in his vocals when the need arises.

The final two tracks, (or side two as presented on the original vinyl), are a slab of no nonsense heads down archetypal Man music. Both tracks are still very much a part of the live set in the nineties, (something which I personally think I could live without) and the versions captured here are lively and extremely well delivered; again, there seems to be an awful lot of wahwah, which I have no real objection to, it just seems to be rather overdone on the album as a whole.

Overall, I see this as a fine representation of what the band were up to at the time, in some ways a last hurrah before the confusing mix of directions that made up The Welsh Connection and the split that followed. Well recorded, with better sound quality than some other live albums of the time, it's understandable why it was one of the first of the 1970's era Man recordings to be transferred to CD.

Originally released in 1975.

Available on CD on BGO Records, BGOCD43.

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