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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I have a strange relationship with Man (the Man band that is!) ... I am familiar with two albums that bookend what is supposed to be their most progressive phase (from their second album 2 Ozs. Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle to the live workout Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day and Back Into The Future) but I haven't actually heard anything from that period. As such what I can tell you is that Revelation is a damn good psychedelic album, while Rhinos, Winos & Lunatics is a bland pop/rock excursion that ranks as one of the biggest disappointments in my collection. As for the "magic" stuff in between? You'll have to ask someone else!

Now Revelation has some brilliant tunes and works as a cohesive whole. Sure, you're likely to find the moaning orgasmic female voices of Erotica and the opening narration somewhat cheesy, but for melancholy blues-based psychedelic rock that foreshadowed the evolution of progressive rock, there are few superior albums to go to.

From the opening ominous echoing melody of And In The Beginning and the stomping blues of Sudden Life all the way through the glorious gothic organ and wordless vocals of Puella! Puella! (Woman! Woman!), the soft-core porn of Erotica and the menacing intent of Don't Just Stand There (Come In Out Of The Rain) and the epic conclusion of The Future Hides Its Face (which reprises that great guitar line of the first track) Man are pretty much tuned in.

The creative core of keyboardist Clive John and guitarists/band mainstays Roger "Deke" Leonard and Mike Jones all stand out as they create a wash of swelling organ (that's right!) and pungent stinging acidic guitar lines that will have you begging for more. While the lead vocals (which include some uncredited contributions from a female guest, and not just on the orgasm sections!) aren't exactly stellar they meet the requirements of the music, or perhaps more pertinently, the time.

Indeed I can heartily recommend this album to fans of psychedelic rock, for it is a lost classic of that genre. However, like other superb recordings by Vanilla Fudge and Tomorrow that I've also reviewed here, it is missing just a little too much to make it an essential purchase from a progressive rock point of view. ... 57% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#67710)
Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Revelation" is the first record of 'Man' and was released in 1969. It is a concept album about the story of 'Man(kind)' and musically a mixture of Westcoast, Blues- and Psychedelic Rock. 'And in the Beginning' starts with an explosion, (the big bang ?) leading into an organ theme and a medium rockin track. 'Sudden Life' starts with sound effects, a guitar riff leading into a Blues Rocker followed b y'Empty Room' a Westcoast influenced track.

'Puella! Puella! (Woman! Woman!)' is the first more adventurous track, starting with a flute intro, organ work and psychedelic vocalizes, sounding not unlike Pink Floyd. 'Love' is a nice ballad for acoustic guitar with falsetto vocals , a distorted flute and sounding similar to 'Babe I'm gonna leave you' by Led Zeppelin which was released some months later. 'Erotica' is a funky Blues track with simulated orgasm sounds (BTW the track was banned in the UK and was a minor hit in Europe) and must have been a party favorite. 'Blind Man' is an uptempo Blues Rocker and 'And Castles Rise in Children's Eyes' a track build around a Tschaikovsky theme with organ work and sound effects and 'Don't Just Stand There (Come in Out of the Rain)' a slower Blues with a nice harmonica intro.

Now after the more agreable sides of life it's time for War: 'The Missing Pieces' is introduced by the sound of marching drums and lots of blasting guns and explosions, a weeping woman and a dirge on a church organ, everybody got the message. The album ends with'The Future Hides Its Face' a reprise of the first track and ends with a countdown leading to another big explosion. Even if the record is musically not very consistent there are lots of good ideas, that Man would developp later on, a good exapmle of Early Prog.

Report this review (#71494)
Posted Thursday, March 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Debut outing from probably my favourite band of all time. Had the pleasure of seeing them live over recent years. An absolutely sensational live act! I always find debut albums never represent an artist in all their glory (with one or two exceptions of course) This album is typical to that theory. Sounding pretty typical to the time, this set would be regarded as more psych that prog. Several fine cuts found here, such as Sudden Life, with its bluesy riff as wild Hammond solo and also the DOORS soudalike - Empty Room. However as with most great bands like this doing their first recording, production is raw and it would take the band a good few albums to tighten up thier performance. Not the best album to start on, but still good listening all the same!
Report this review (#110384)
Posted Friday, February 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Man's debut album Revelation bore little resemblance the American west coast jam band influenced group they would become. Forming from the ashes of Welsh Pop group The Bystanders, who released quite a few singles aimed at commercial stardom but enjoying little success beyond their south Wales stronghold. Despite the lack of success with The Bystanders by the time of this release due to numerous live performances and years learning their craft Man were already a tight unit with a particularly strong grasp in the use of vocal harmonies.

Revelation is a Psychedelic Pop/Rock concept album based on evolution and whilst you can see why it didn't set the world on fire is a more than competent start for a band who would go on to produce some excellent albums in the seventies.

Fittingly it starts with And In The Beginning with a clap of thunder before a somewhat cheesy sounding organ comes in. It gets better though as the song kicks off with a slightly Indian sounding guitar riff and a decent lead vocal from ever present through many line ups Micky Jones. Those harmonies are used to great effect too.

Sudden Life has a strong blues feel with the vocal harmonies present again. Empty Room could be The Doors until the vocals come in being derivative of the sound of so many bands of the era in the Psych Pop field. This could also be said of Puella Puella (Woman! Woman!) without The Doors influence which hasn't stood the test of time too well. The vocals being sung with no words and dominated by what sounds like a recorder.

Love is a melancholic acoustic piece and followed by Erotica which no doubt would have had trouble with the censors of the time if they'd attempted to release it as a single due to it basically being an instrumental with the sound of a woman having an orgasm over the top.

Blind Man gets them back on track and is a fast up tempo shuffle with a dominant honky tonk style Piano until the song changes tack to a slower ending to fade out. And Castles Rise in Childrens Eyes (was there ever a more sixties sounding song title than that!) and it's another instrumental (apart from a few harmonised ah's) heavy on the keyboards but pretty good nevertheless.

Don't Just Stand There (Come in Out of the Rain) is another up tempo rocker with a nice Organ sound and a few heavy guitar riffs. I could imagine Uriah Heep coming up with this in places. The Missing Pieces has a military band intro before going off on a totally different tangent into a rather zany piece with some strange vocals and is a bit of a throwaway track.

Closing with The Future Hides it's Face revisits the opening track And In The Beginning to bookend the album nicely.

While Revelation sounds somewhat dated today and is very derivative of the time it's a solid enough debut from one of the most underrated bands of the seventies but not the best place to start in exploring the Man back catalogue. 2 ˝ stars.

Report this review (#178583)
Posted Friday, August 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A Man is born

This is where it all started for Man, way back in 1969. The band evolved from the pop-centric group The Bystanders with a clear ambition to explore some of the exciting new territories which were opening up as music entered one of the greatest periods in its entire history. In what has become one of the great traditions of prog, Man dived straight into a full blown concept album, the theme being the development of man.

These days, it is all but impossible to listen to the opening track "In the beginning.." without being reminded of Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge". I challenge anyone not to imagine dwarves dancing round a 12" lump of stone as the track plays.

Liberal sound effects are used throughout the album to embellish what are otherwise ambitious but variable blues rock numbers. There is a rather jarring contrast between the final vestiges of The Bystanders on pop rock songs such as "Empty room" or "Love" and the heavier and less melodic tracks like "Sudden life". The former ("Empty room") actually sounds like a strange fusion of The Doors, Rush and the Mamas and The Papas!

The first real hints of anything potentially prog we get are on "Puella! Puella!", which features some nice flute touches and effective harmony vocals. The recording of "Erotica" appears to have involved a dark room and committed role playing, the results being released successfully as a single in the more liberated parts of Europe. The underlying music is of the dreamy 60's acid party type.

"Blind man" is a straightforward blues rocker, or so it seems until the track completely changes for the closing minute or so which comes across as a crossed wire from a Demis Roussos album. Later tracks such as "And the castles rise in children's eyes" and "Don't just stand there" have suggestions of bands such as The Nice, and Beggar's Opera, the organ playing of Clive John being rather Emerson like at times. The album concludes with a space landing and an atomic explosion.

In all, a refreshingly innocent Man album, which sees them exploring a number of styles and sounds they would quickly discard. The overall impression can at times be one of clumsiness, but we must keep in mind that this goes way back to the origins (of Man) in 1968/9, and as such should not be compared with their most revered albums.

Incidentally, the sleeve image was not originally intended to be so basic, the idea was to see the band naked in the desert on the front, and smartly dressed in the city on the back.

Report this review (#181613)
Posted Wednesday, September 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
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!

Report this review (#2406692)
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2020 | Review Permalink

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