Man : Live - The Official Bootleg

Album Cover

Before the review really starts, let me mention that this CD has been released with more than one cover; the one shown above is NOT the original version. I lent my original copy to someone who never got round to returning it. She must have liked it.

Recorded on June 25 1994 as part of the (in)famous Glastonbury Festival, this is a valuable record of the band in their post Twang four piece glory, a short while before Pugwash left to be replaced (though not for long) by a drummer you may have heard of who goes by the name of Terry Williams.

By this time the introductory C'mon was well established as the opener. Frankly, I was beginning to wish for a more varied set list around this time, but I have to admit that this version is simply superb. Micky Jones is clearly on top form from the very start, and Pugwash's no holds barred power drumming is quickly apparent. But it really is Jones who takes all the honours on this track, with a magnificent wahwah solo and towards the end, a hint of what was later to metamorphose in to a song in its own right, Call Down The Moon. If you know anyone who admires good guitar playing but has never heard of Micky Jones (there are a few such folk out there), this is the one track you should play to convince them.

The Twang Dynasty had come out a couple of years earlier, so the band were comfortable with those tracks, and Mad On Her was a regular in the set at this point; not one of the band's most creative pieces, it is certainly atacked with great gusto, and sounds better live than the original studio recording. Visionaries, an older song, was less frequently in the set so is all the more welcome; as is Ace screwing up a cue, for that matter.

Chinese Cut had been featured on stage since before Twang was released, so again the band are at their ease with it; it isn't as crisp as some versions I've heard, but even so there is some marvellous playing by Micky off Deke's vocals.

Wings Of Mercury was never one of my favourites from the album, and I suspect it's regular live performances have owed as much to sentiment as to merit, but this version is nothing special anyway; as times it sounds sloppy, at others, stilted.

Ride And The View had been in the set for, well, decades, and the intro had grown and grown. It gave Deke a chance to show he too could play guitar a bit, and gave the others the chance for a breather. (Or more usually in Pugwsh's case, a sit down and a smoke behind his kit). This version is just brilliant. There was always something different thrown in, riffs from different songs, tempo changes, the whole lot. Bear in mind that this was before his stroke, and using the customized Telecaster before it was pinched : awesome. Compared to Jones, Leonard might be lacking in technique (who isn't?) but Deke utilises the skills at his disposal to their ultimate. And when Jones joins in, the interplay is magnificent, interlocking perfectly like two jigsaw pieces. Definitely the album's peak.

Feather was always a stormer when I caught it live, but this version suffers a little, perhaps from what it follows. In my opinion the song is a Twang highlight that deserves a better version.

Bananas. What can you say? Personally I can take it or leave it these days, but this take is notable for Pugwash's violent skin battering.

If you didn't get to see the Man band during the first half of the 1990's, this CD is simply an essential purchase.

Originally issued in March 1995.

Available on Point, PNTVP109CD

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