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Man - Revelation CD (album) cover

REVELATION

Man

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.08 | 56 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars MAN, Oh Man! Where do we begin with such a prolific band of Welsh boyos whose long history stretches back over half a century in the vast kingdom of prog? Well, let's begin by travelling back in time to 1968 and the early Dawn of MAN in the lovely mining town of Merthyr Tydfil, deep in the heart of South Wales. MAN's remarkably long career has had more ups and downs than a whore's drawers and amazingly, they're still going strong well into the 21st Century with seventeen studio albums to their credit and with their latest album released as recently as 2019. MAN blasted off into orbit with their first Space Rock album "Revelation" in early 1969, which caused more controversy than a pregnant nun by featuring a simulated orgasm on the song "Erotica" (which was subsequently banned in the UK), long before Madonna struck a pose in her conical bra over two decades later with her sultry song and album of the same name. The Ascent of MAN continued with their second album, the comically-titled "2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle", released in late 1969. That was followed by a string of seven back- to-back studio albums recorded during the 1970's, up until the release of "The Welsh Connection" in 1976, when MAN disconnected shortly afterwards and went their separate ways due to the age-old band problem of "artistic differences". The band reformed with a new line-up in the 1980's and released their comeback album "The Twang Dynasty" in 1992, with a further seven albums and an ever-revolving door of line-up changes taking us right up to the present day with the release of "Anachronism Tango" in 2019. MAN are arguably one of the best bands ever to emerge from Wales and they've endured almost as long as Doctor Who's TARDIS, so let's travel back through Time and Relative Dimension in Space now to the genesis of MAN-kind and delve into the secrets of "Revelation".

BOOM!! Apocalypse Now! "And in the Beginning" opens ominously to the apocalyptic sound of an atomic explosion, followed by a distant lonely organist, playing what sounds like a feeble budget-priced Bontempi organ. The haunting music conjures up a stark and forbidding image of an irradiated desolate landscape - similar to a typical day during the coronavirus lockdown - where the chances of coming across another living person are about as remote as finding a moderate member of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Mullah Lite, perhaps? It's not all doom and gloom though, as there's some Man-sized prog on the way. Forget the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These are the Five Welshmen of Man, and they're charging right at you with all guns blazing. Take a look at the powerful message contained within these portentous lyrics:- "The ageless face of time, Smiles carefree and is gone, And in its wake leaves nothing, Save future yet to come, And out of fire and time, A world is born and lives, A world still young and virgin, Its face yet to be scarred, And they created man." ..... This Psychedelic/Space Rock extravaganza is a real blast! The music features a triumphal marching rhythm with some hippyish Good Vibrations from the spaced-out psychedelic guitarist. There's also a sombre organ and spoken word passage thrown in for good measure too, giving the music a sense of added drama and gravitas - just like the newsreader back in 1969 who had to keep a seriously straight face when he announced that the Vietnamese villages of Phuoc Me and Ban Me Tuat had just been bombed by the American airforce. Maybe the newsreader had a few choice words of his own for his news-team after being given that particular story to read out.

Bursting onto the scene now is "Sudden Life", a quite extraordinary two-part song that opens as a basic British Blues number with a pounding rhythmic 4/4 beat, but then goes completely off the rails - a bit like this album review - and descends into a Crazy Train acid trip to hell and back. The music's crazier than rats in the attic nibbling on a diet of Bananas, Fruitcake and Nuts, not to mention the maniacal singer who sounds like he's away with the fairies in a straitjacket. The men in white coats are coming to take him away, Ha-haaa! Next, we hear the long-drawn-out echoing cry of H-E-L-L-O-O-O from a man in an "Empty Room", which just happens to be the title of the third song on the album, appropriately enough. On the contrary though, it turns out "Empty Room" is a fabulous Full House of scintillating Psychedelic Rock in the style of Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother & the Holding Company, with the male vocalist sounding remarkably like a curious cross between Janis Joplin and Grace Slick on this tripping flower-power song. Maybe he was wearing an extra-tight pair of trousers on that particular day to help him reach those really high notes. The band have come up trumps again with straight Aces in this psychedelic freak-out. It's time now for some gloriously pompous prog with the anthemic sound of "Puella! Puella!" (Latin for "Girl! Girl!"). There are no lyrics as such, but there's some wonderful choral harmonising to be heard from the five-piece Welsh choir of Man. Wow, Oh Wow! They're so incredible! This band of boyos have enough awesome vocal power between them to fill an entire cathedral. This tremendous album of classic Proto-Prog is turning out to be just as reliable and dependable as a 200- year-old Volkswagen Beetle that starts up first time after being found abandoned in a sea cave. Remember Woody Allen's "Sleeper" movie?

Turn the lights down low now, because we're getting in a smoochy lovey-dovey mood for some deep and meaningful "Love", a lilting melancholic refrain with the lovelorn heart-broken singer in full romantic balladeer mode, so get those Man-sized tissues at the ready. Listen out again for the very occasional, helium-induced, high-pitched vocals, which brings to mind the Hee Bee Gee Bees classic, "Meaningless Songs in Very High Voices". And now we come to the positively orgasmic and orgiastic "Erotica", a song with more gasps and groans than an Emmanuelle movie, or a Wimbledon tennis tournament. It's steamier than a Joan Collins movie, or a bodice-ripping Jackie Collins novel. It's easy to see why "Erotica" was banned in Britain in the not so permissive sixties, although having a song banned in the U.K never did the Sex Pistols or Frankie Goes to Hollywood any harm. This rather racy and risque tune is hotter than Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin's lustful "Je T'Aime" and Donna Summer's extended 12-inch "Love to Love You Baby" put together. The manic musical Viagra of "Erotica" is an unrestrained psychedelic organ and guitar jamboree from beginning to end, although it doesn't quite reach the zany level of insanity of Aphrodite's Child's "Infinity", which has to be a good thing. And so, after that hot and steamy love-fest of amorous fun and frolics, it's time for a cold shower now.

Onto Side Two now and the "Blind Man" is leading the way. It's a two-part song, beginning with a rabble-rousing burst of boogie-woogie piano, but then plunging into a dark mournful tale of loneliness and despair with these plaintive, emotionally- wrought lyrics:- "From my window in the alley I see life, Passing below, So very far away, And it doesn't really matter much to me, I've nothing to think of, No words to say, And the only answer seems to be that life, Is lying there waiting, To take my life away." ..... This impassioned song is a real tearjerker with the powerfully-emotive singer pouring out his heart and soul in this suicidal tale, that's even sadder than being a member of an N-SYNC tribute band. Onto a real album highlight now with "And Castles Rise in Children's Eyes", a classically-inspired prog-tastic spectacular - featuring some heavenly harmonisation - that's built around the grandiose majesty and splendour of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, and it doesn't come much grander than that! It's time for some heavy Heavy Prog, as storming into view right now is "Don't Just Stand There (Come in Out of the Rain)", a non-stop artillery barrage of sonic nirvana and pounding machine-gun percussion. This tremendously-rousing Top Gun music is as awe-inspiring as a screaming F-14 Tom-Cat - piloted by Tom Cruise - swooping down on Biggles down below in his sputtering Sopwith Camel. And now for something completely different: "Missing Pieces", a manic melange of chaotic noises that sounds crazier than a Monty Python sketch, or as mad as a March Hare at the Mad Hatter's tea party. It's probably best to skip this wacky "song" altogether and move onto "The Future Hides It's Face" which brings us right back to where we started from with the tinny sound of the Bontempi organ featured in the introduction again. We're at Mission Control in Houston in 1969 for this spectacular out-of-this-world Space Rock extravaganza as we blast off into orbit with actual recordings from the Apollo missions. The Eagle Has Landed!

In the beginning, God created Man, and Man created Prog, and it was Good..... Man have blasted off into Space Rock heaven with their dazzling debut album of psychedelic Proto-Prog. It's one small step for Man, one giant leap for Prog-kind!

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |

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