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Man - 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle CD (album) cover



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5 stars A vast improvement from their debut platter. Still heavily influenced by their west coast pysch peers, the performances have tightened and great experimental ideas were flowing. The LP starts with the magnificent Prelude/The Storm - which lasts for over 12 minutes (Please note that track time listed above do not seem to be accurate) A really unusual piece to kick of an album with, but it works. I'ts so full of atmosphere from all musicians. Crashing symbols, a back wash of noise from the Hammond and unusual sounds from DEKE LEONARD on guitar, making rather convincing seagull noises. The whole track emulates a storm perfectly as the title would suggest. Other highlights include Spunk Box (known as Spunk Rock to the band and fans). A killer riff opens the track followed by some dirty sounding vocals to follow. This has remained in their live set and has been jammed to a jaw dropping length of 30+ minutes! One the whole this is one of the best albums they've done. It really started to define the MAN sound and deserves the 5 stars.
Report this review (#110385)
Posted Friday, February 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Tony Hatch rages as Man touches his harpsichord

Man's second album was released in 1969, the same year as their debut. In an effort to emphasise the serious nature of their music, Pye records moved Man to their new Dawn label. Ironically, the album title is a flippant description of the physical make up of an LP record.

Relying more and more on instrumental prowess, the opening "Prelude/The storm" is an ambitious scene setter with clear delusions of grandeur. Things continue to build towards a seemingly limitless crescendo before easing off to an altogether more relaxing, almost ambient phase. As we move into "It is as it must be" (originally to be titled "Shit on the world" till the record company took fright), we begin to uncover what would become the essence of the band. Here we have a heavy, bluesy guitar driven riff laden number with the first vocals of the album. Apart from that brief vocal excursion, the track is primarily an elongated jam featuring lead guitar and harmonica.

In another example of wonderful incompetence, the record company took exception to the title of the third track. It was therefore changed from "Spunk rock" to "Spunk box" (a record company employee misunderstood the instructions and changed the wrong word!), although the former title has prevailed over time. In view of the way this track has been extended and developed in the live arena, the version here may sound a little tame. It remains though one of Man's signature numbers.

"My name is Jesus Smith" is the most commercial track on the album, reverting to the Bystanders (from whom Man evolved) light pop rock style with pleasant harmonies. Midway through, the song bizarrely transforms into a hoe-down style country piece.

"Parchment and candles" was reputedly performed on a harpsichord belonging to producer/song writer Tony Hatch, who took exception to the band using it without his permission and threw an Elton John style tantrum. The piece itself is a brief reflective instrumental, quite unlike what we have come to expect from Man. The album closes with a Budgie like romp through "Brother Arnold's red and white striped tent". Not a particularly memorable track by any means, but fine all the same.

In all, an album which sees Man starting to find a clear direction, while still experimenting with a few disparate styles. An enjoyable excursion.

Report this review (#181707)
Posted Thursday, September 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars By this, their second album Man were starting to get more adventurous and the longer tracks were starting to appear, side 1 of the original vinyl version only has 2 tracks for example.

Prelude and The Storm pretty are pretty much one track, Prelude opening with tympani, organ and some harmonies, no words, just ahs if you catch my drift before giving way to piano which segues into The Storm. Slowly strummed guitars and seagull effects build up with the introduction of further instrumentation and effects on this more or less ambient piece into something that replicates a storm. It gradually fades into something more structured, sweetly picked acoustic and electric guitar, light drum work and those ah vocals are back. What this part has to do with a storm beats me, perhaps the calm after the storm is over? We then revert to the theme introduced at the start of The Storm. Unfortunately it hasn't stood the test of time too well and I can't see the current incarnation of Man being in any hurry to resurrect it.

It Is As It Must Be is better. Heavy bluesy psychedelic rock is the order of the day. It's a bit repetitive until it speeds up midway but the band start introducing longer guitar solos which are a staple of later Man songs.

Side 2 kicks off with Spunk Box, later to be known as Spunk Rock in its numerous live appearances. Much shorter here than it ever was live but it's still a lively bluesy rocker.

My Name is Jesus Smith is more commercial and has an American West Coast feel to it, where Man have drawn much influence from over the years. It's a bit weak but fortunately not too long.

Parchment and Candles is a twee instrumental which could have easily sat on their first album and it sounds very dated with it's 60's style harpsichord so prevalent on many 60's songs. It could easily be a soundtrack to one of those 60's TV shows like Randall and Hopkirk.

Brother Arnold's Red and White Striped Tent is better. It's another bluesy rocker which like Spunk Box and It Is As It Must Be looks towards the future development of the band but ultimately lacks the spark of future work.

Overall then 2oz of Plastic With a Hole in the Middle sees Man bridging the gap between their more commercial 1960's psychedelic tinged debut and with what was to come in the 70's, the American west coast influenced psychedelic jam band. As a result it's quite experimental in places, some of it works, some doesn't but it's a step in the right direction even if the overall results were less than spectacular. 2 ˝ stars.

Report this review (#183807)
Posted Saturday, September 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Recent acquisition on the Man back catalogue on vinyl has proved that one of the greatest bands to emerge from Wales had a) a big list of albums and b) the quality of them is fairly consistent blending good with mediocre tracks on a regular basis. The arrival in the post on "2 Ozs. Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle" coincided with a trip to optometrists and the application of drops to dilate the pupils of the eyes. Whilst this left me with enough vision to turn on the Rega, it wasn't sufficient to allow me to read the sleeve notes or which side I was playing. I did know which album I was playing.

You are usually doing something else whilst listening to music, however I can recommend eye drops (or alternatively eye patches or those covers that posh older people using on the plane. You listen to the music.

As commented by other reviewers, Man's second album sees them getting into their stride and the style and line-up(s) that saw them through to All's Well That Ends Well. The music for me a prototypical Man, and captures some of style and flavour which was always best live (at the Roundhouse, though 94's Official Bootleg from the Marquee) is my personal favourite. With Man you get a real sense of West Coast US meets Methyr Tydfil with and undercurrent of hard rocking trying to break out through the dreamy sounds of the Pacific surf, sort of. Spunk Box is the standout track for me, though again its better live (and extended) on the Greaser Truckers album.

With my vision returning I flipped the album and totally oblivious to the ironing stack behind me, continued to enjoy and understand was is really a great album. It's getting harder find on vinyl I sense, and my copy isn't perfect, but it's the only way to listen to this type and period of music. I am a fan or Man, their place in history and principally (or is that principality) their music. It's one of their better ones.

Report this review (#1031844)
Posted Wednesday, September 11, 2013 | Review Permalink

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