Man : Slow Motion

Album Cover

The follow up to Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics, and a couple of things stand out merely through a brief perusal of the sleeve notes. Firstly, the band are back to a four piece, following the departure of the multi talented Malcolm Morley during an American tour; secondly, Roy Thomas Baker no longer occupied the producer's chair, as the band took a stronger grip of the overall sound, with assistance from Anton Matthews. And overall the production is OK, but not surprisingly it lacks the sophisticated sheen which graced the previous effort.

Hard Way To Die is a strong opener, with strident, positive guitar chords taking the song on a firm paced course. Straight away, you're struck by the rather down beat tone of the lyrics, and this sets the tone for the entire album - a mood of gloom and despair seems to permeate so many of the songs, there should really be some sort of warning sticker on the sleeve. (As I've noted elsewhere, a similar relationship seems to exit between Twang Dynasty and its follow up, Call Down The Moon. Spooky or what ?) Anyway, this opener musically at least chugs along in a most satisfactory manner. The next track, Grasshopper, is archetypal Leonard, a haunting lead melody drifting through the song, played on synthesiser, (though the fairly crude voice chosen for the instrument is perhaps the only part of the album which could have done with RTB's sophisticated touch). I see this as the highlight of the album, IMHO very reminiscent of Kamikaze era Leonard. This is also one of the two tracks to feature strings.

The next two tracks are mid tempo pieces, partly driven by Deke's chunky piano, neither really the sort of songs which would set the world alight.

Bedtime Bone is probably one of the more curious songs the Man band have ever recorded, and the closest they've come to modern jazz. A combination of slick drumming from Terry Williams, fine wandering bass playing from Ken Whaley, soaring guitar from Micky Jones and laced with synthesiser from Deke (again a fairly crude sound), with Micky howling over the top of it all, it is actually surprisingly effective.

One More Chance maintains the tone with lines such as "Do you know how much you have to pay to see and execution?", and then we're into perhaps one of the band's least successful songs, Rainbow Eyes. The cute accoustic guitar is backed by more strings and lots of aahhing backing vocals, and just as you're about to give them the benefit of the doubt, Mr. Jones comes out with the cringe causing line "like a bitch, she sighs with joy". Ouch. Well, I suppose it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The album's closer, Day And Night, features a gorgeous little slide guitar figure, which even now still occasionally makes itself heard on stage during Ride And The View. This song is particularly well driven along by the rhythm section, and is certainly one of the stronger parts of the album. (I vividly recall seeing the band play this on The Old Grey Whistle Test once. I can't be sure, but I dare say Bob Harris thought it was "mm, nice").

Overall, the loss of Morley means there is not quite the same emphasis on fluid melody which stood out on Rhinos, and my personal opinion is that the album is certainly less consistent. To my ears, there is a 50/50 split between strong songs, and what is almost mere filler, but this is doubtless a result of unhelpful comparisons with Rhinos. Another thing that strikes me - this album was released with a mere six months between it and Rhinos; I know that now in the late 1990's, nobody (except Jackie Leven) releases anything like one album per year, but it must have taken some sort of quality control toll.

Not a bad Man album by any means, but not a great one.

Originally released in 1974.

Available on CD on BGO Records, BGOCD209.

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