Man : Live At The Star Club 1998

Album Cover

Inner coverI'm not going to make this a very long review, because the gist of it is very simple - BUY IT! It showcases the last gig of a European tour undertaken by the Man band after they had taken on new drummer Bob Richards, and been rejoined by Phil Ryan on keyboards. I'd seen them on a couple of dates prior to this, and it had been clear they were still working their way into things, but by the time of this date (the last night of the tour) they were absolutely flying, and all five members of the band were on the top of their game. It's a double CD and a full record of the gig, and sound quality is excellent.

I'm not going to analyse it in detail, but C'mon is perhaps as good as I've heard it, with the keyboards complimenting the guitars perfectly, and the piece still brims over with invention after so many years. Do It and (Something In My Heart Says) No are newer songs, the former having something of a funky feel to it, and the latter being mainly notable for featuring Mr. Ace on tuba. Not the strongest of songs to begin with, I suppose it's a bit of a novelty, but if you've never heard it, your life is all the poorer.

Inner coverI was slightly disappointed that Call Down The Moon had been dropped from the set, but the version of Drivin' Around makes up for it. Slower, and indeed shorter than on the studio original, it oozes quality, and really benefits from having Phil Ryan's polished keyboard skills to add to the soulful musical backdrop. The second side is business as usual, but all parties are performing truly at their peak; and bear in mind, I say this as one who has long complained that the set would benefit from having at least one of Many Are Called But Few Get Up / Bananas / Romain dropped to make way for different material. Well, on this night not even I would have dared voice such an opinion. Whether it be because it was the last night of the tour, the addition of two fresh faces, or sheer chance, the old classics really sound unreplaceable here. Deke and Micky trade solos, Phil chips in, and Martin has obviously formed a tight partnership with Bob. In fact, if any one aspect of this album impresses me more than anything, it is Bob Richards' drumming - tight and confident, it is as if he has taken the power of Pugwash and combined it with the subtlety of Terry Williams, and made the sum greater than the constituent parts.

Issued in Summer 1998.

I believe it was originally a limited edition issue, but is now more widely available.

In January 1999, I heard about a site in Germany which had this CD avialable by mail order; the listed price was 50 DueutschMarks. The above link takes you to the English version of the site; I found the listing by searching for 'star club'.

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