Man : The Twang Dynasty

Album Cover

Now the chances are that anyone who subscribes The Welsh Connection is going to love this album. I know I do. But it's going to be more valuable to stop and think how it might be received by a less uncritical audience, particularly one previously unfamiliar with Man. With this in mind, I've had a couple of unenlightened friends give it a listen, (once I had convinced them it wasn't a Duane Eddy tribute album), to discover what might otherwise be overlooked, and also done my damnedest to review it from a more neutral perspective. Not easy.

Generally, it's gone down well with the neutrals. Listenable and reasonably accessible, though it was suggested it could easily have been recorded ten years ago. Twenty years ago even, though gentle persuasion caused that remark to be withdrawn. In short, they liked it, with the reservations that by the end it was all getting to sound a bit samey, and that a little more variety in pace and production would have helped. I find it hard to argue with that, but suspect it's the consequence of a band from a generation used to forty minute albums being given the opportunity to extend things (the CD comes in at 60 minutes) and not knowing when to stop. Nobody will quibble with Feather going on for a spell on stage, but the last couple of minutes or so on album don't really say anything new. Those of us who have already heard it won't object, but it might be trying to newcomers.

Another puzzle is the running order. Just two tracks come in at over six minutes, and it seems odd to have them together as the first two tracks; and tracks 2 and 3, Mad on Her and Kangaroo seem to clash more than a little, both Martin Ace vocals on the same subjects. This rather unbalances the album as a whole.

I especially liked the songs which they don't perform live: they have a more disciplined feel, as if they were actually written to be recorded, rather than being songs which, having been given a chance to develop and grow on-stage, have subsequently been transferred to vinyl, sorry, silver plastic, in their already evolved state. It's probably the lack of any recorded, or at least, any released new product over the last few years that is to thank for the overall high quality of the songs. No way can The Price, Chimes or Out of the Darkness be passed off as mere filler material.

So is it a good album? You bet. All the playing is crisp and accurate without becoming routine, and the production is solid if perhaps lacking imagination. Is it likely to be bought by thousands of people who don't subscribe to TWC ? Of that I'm less sure. What it probably needs is some sort of high powered media campaign to educate the ill-informed. Something like... well, I know Michael Heatley thinks Women to be the weakest track on the album, and though I like it, I can recognise it is atypical, but try and imagine how it would sound if they persuaded fellow countryman and larynx extrordinaire Tom Jones to guest on lead vocals! Stardom and that castle in Spain would be a dead cert.

Released in 1992 on Road Goes On Forever, RGF CD 1003

This review was written for TWC at the time of the CD's release. In retrospect, I still feel the same about it, that it's a fine album marred only by a lack of variety. Maybe this became all the more evident with the release of Call Down The Moon.

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