Man : Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics

Album Cover

This is probably my favourite Man album from the seventies. It marked the return to the band of Deke Leonard, who brought with him Ken Whaley (bass) and Malcolm Morley (guitar, keyboards, vocals) from Help Yourself, who had also been working on his solo projects. Also unusual was the use of a producer, Roy Thomas Baker, who had previously had no experience of the band. Baker has since been best known for his production work with Queen, and also worked with Bebop Deluxe on Futurama. As you'd expect then, the album has quite a clean, precise, high tech sound which you would not normally associate with the Manband, but it certainly works.

These are really only six actual songs on the album, plus two throw-away instrumentals, Intro and Exit, which were the bookends to side two on the original vinyl.

Taking the Easy Way Out Again and Four Day Louise are both rousing guitar driven pieces which stomp along quite merrily, with Deke taking one vocal and Micky the other. The Thunder and Lightening Kid takes as its theme the return of Jesus Christ, and is a lazy drawl of a song, well sung by and perfectly suited to Morley, and also features some perfectly simple electric piano from Deke. California Silks and Satins is, as you'd expect from the title, very sixties mellow, accoustic West Coast.

Kerosene and Scotch Corner are the two longest tracks, and are more typically Man, giving them the opportunity to express themselves instrumentally, though not at too great a length - maybe the controlling hand of the producer at work ? They both succeed, and neither outstays its welcome, as perhaps some earlier Man songs may have done.

I suspect this was an attempt at more mainstream commercial success, though without the band having to compromise on their musical ideals, and as far as I remember, had a modicum of chart success without pushing them into the big time; it also gave them the opportunity to do some extensive touring in the States.

It is a great shame, but perhaps no surprise, that this line up lasted for only this album; after the American tour, Morley left. There was no personal animosity, but it is easy to speculate that there was too much songwriting talent fighting for limited space. Still, this version of Man has certainly left behind one great album.

Originally released in 1974.

Available on CD on BGO Records, BGOCD208.

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