Man : Undrugged

Album Cover

* Jones/Leonard/Ace/Richards/Thorrington

The Man band are not always the most organized set of individuals, and their projects run late more often than not. This baby was first conceived in summer 1996, and was going to be a brief set of accoustic versions of their own material, and with a video, to be directed by Brian Breeze, to go with it. At that point the band were a four piece with Terry Williams on drums. However... the whole thing got put on the back burner, and what with Deke's medical problems, the project was left to drift. Until 2001 that is, when the remaining tracks were completed with the addition of Bob Richards and Gareth Thorrington.

One major plus of this CD is that it is recorded evidence of Terry Williams' brief return to the band - his drumming is unmistakable on Scotch Corner, though rather high in the mix to my ears; the arrangement is broadly similar to the original, while there are notable changes to melodies and lyrics on Manillo and Asylum. I'm puzzled by the choice of Dream Away, since it was an accoustic track to begin with; I can only assume it was for video purposes that it was initially chosen.

Day and Night is excellent - a brisk pace, and again the trademark Williams drums, plus Deke pounding the piano. The arrangement of Babe doesn't really vary from the Maximum Darkness version, but still packs a punch despite the lack of SG. Walrus is a Martin Ace song from the 1980's never formally recorded (though on the Live DVD) and its skiffle feel is very well executed. Trying to Get to You is magnificent. The music is lazy and laid back, while Deke's imploring vocal is just a perfect fit. The song Listen to me Sister is a Deke original and in a similar vein, and boasts a semi country style solo.

Micky takes a languid vocal on the Beach Boys' Sail on Sailor (which has some good piano from Gareth), and also on Georgia; the former is very good, the latter comes over a bit flat.

Overall, it'a a bit of a curiousity. (Even ignoring the hopelessly inaccurate order of the track listing). Not really a proper new album, but worthwhile certainly. I can't help thinking that an accoustic album lost its way over the course of the years, and mutated into a covers album, with one totally new song thrown in to further muddy the waters. What probably grieves me is this: the way it's been done, we could have had not one album, but two - an accoustic release, and a collection of covers. Something for the future perhaps.

Originally issued in April 2002

Available on Point Records, PNTVP121CD

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