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MANSUN

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Mansun biography
MANSUN were an English Indie band from Chester whose brief three album career in the late 1990s could be regarded as the stalled beginnings of a resurgence in Progressive Rock in the mainstream (that has more recently been termed New Prog as a general catch-all for bands that have definite Indie/Alt Rock foundations but acknowledge Progressive Music as a source of influence and inspiration). Following on closely from RADIOHEAD in terms of success and recognition their debut album "Attack Of The Grey Lantern" entered the British album charts at number one on its release and with its conceptual story-line and self-revealing hidden track ('An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter') it quickly established itself as a favourite with fans as an album to discuss and debate at length.

Formed in 1995 by Paul DRAPER (lead vocals & guitar), Stove KING (bass), Dominic CHAD (lead guitar & backing vocals) and Andie RATHBONE (drums), MANSUN started their musical career with a succession of EPs before releasing their first album in 1997. They would continue using the EP rather than singles as their preferred medium, releasing a total of 14 over a six year period. The promotional video for one EP, 'Taxloss' (or alternatively 'Taxlo$$'), achieved some notoriety as the band used the 25,000 advance to make the video by throwing it off a concourse in London's Liverpool Street Station during rush-hour and filming the chaos of commuters as they collected up the money.

Two years after "Attack Of The Grey Lantern" MANSUN released their follow-up, "Six". In spite of the conceptual nature of the debut, with its grandiose production and almost Neo Prog approach to musical arrangement, critics were initially surprised by the overtly Progressive Rock nature of "Six" and while not being as well received as the debut (it entered the UK album charts at No. 6) it is now regarded by some as the 'lost Prog album of the 90s'. Taking its title from a combination of Patrick McGoohan's enigmatic 'The Prisoner' tv series of the 1960s and A. A. Milne's childrens' book 'Now We Are Six', the CD is deliberately split into two parts to replicate the two-sided vinyl format with the separation between the two halves marked by a spoken-word monologue by ex-Dr Who actor Tom Baker, the cover is also a knowing nod to the gate-fold album covers of the 1970s.

For their third album, "Little Kix", (released in 2000), the band hired PINK FLOYD's Astoria studio but the recording was fraug...
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SixSix
Extra tracks · Import · Limited Edition
EMI Europe Generic 1999
Audio CD$8.98
$2.59 (used)
KleptomaniaKleptomania
Deluxe Edition · Import
EMI 2004
Audio CD$41.99
$119.16 (used)
Legacy: The Best ofLegacy: The Best of
Import
EMI Import 2006
Audio CD$7.22
$10.95 (used)
Attack of Grey LanternAttack of Grey Lantern
Collector's Edition · Import
EMI 2010
Audio CD$39.23
Little KixLittle Kix
Import
EMI Europe Generic 2000
Audio CD$5.67
$0.01 (used)
KLEPTOMANIA(ltd.special-price)KLEPTOMANIA(ltd.special-price)
EMIMUSIC JAPAN
Audio CD$83.93
$37.74 (used)
SixSix
Parlophone
Audio CD$22.73
$0.01 (used)
Legacy EPLegacy EP
Emi
Audio CD$20.25
$0.01 (used)
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MANSUN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MANSUN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.17 | 16 ratings
Attack Of The Grey Lantern
1997
4.24 | 18 ratings
Six
1998
2.20 | 5 ratings
Little Kix
2000

MANSUN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MANSUN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MANSUN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 3 ratings
Kleptomania
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Legacy, The Best Of Mansun
2006

MANSUN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

MANSUN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Six by MANSUN album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.24 | 18 ratings

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Six
Mansun Crossover Prog

Review by Sagichim
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

5 stars Alternative Progressive

What makes an already successful britpop band who have released one of the best charting albums of 1997, to release a full blown 100% prog rock album just like that?? I really don't know but it seemed like a commercial suicide at the time. So if you once dismissed Mansun for their highly acclaimed MTV hits, you might just wanna recheck this band and their album "Six". The band started their way in the mid 90's led by vocalist Paul Draper. Mansun were never actually your ordinary britpop band, their first album "Attack of the gray lantern" in spite of having huge success, was filled with cynicism and dark black humor, but in the end of it although using some symphonic elements and repeating one or two motifs the album was far from being a prog rock record. So does "Six" really worth the five star rating? I think it does mainly because this ambitious work makes me feel so happy and excited every time I'm listening to it.

Mansun are closest in comparison to Radiohead, Muse or other britpop rock groups or even a progy Smashing Pumpkins, only this album is much more progier than any of these mentioned. The giant leap they made from their debut album to this reminds me the same leap Radiohead made from Ok Computer to Kid A, something no one could ever predict. It's quite hard describing this album and nothing I could say can make you fully understand what it's like, mainly because there is so much going on in every second, and that's have a lot to do with the meticulous production. The album's mixing job, manipulations and audio trickery are really to be inspired by, not because evrything sounds so clear, it's because every element is precisely taken care of. The vocals have all kinds of effects, the drums sounds different in just about every song and sometimes in the very same song. Same goes for the guitars and for the overall mix, it all just drowns in all kinds of special effects and other hallucinating noises and that's the reason why it sounds so fresh and incredibly interesting.

This is one of those albums that you can't tell when a song begins and when it ends. That's because Mansun had a healthy dose of all kinds of short ideas and not a lot of complete ones. The transitions between each part to the next are sharp and sudden but eventually turns out to be right and exciting, that of course only contributes to the overall progy atmosphere. And that is something that at first listen could be hard to take but repeated listenings will make your saturated brain link all of those different parts. The album very much defines the Crossover genre, the melodies are catchy, accessible and infectiously beautiful. I would also like to comment on Dominic Chad's guitars, he is far from being a virtuoso and a lot of people would even consider him to be amateurish, but I must say everything he does just hits the spot! he is very tasteful and diverse, riffing, leads, solos, sound and all kinds of fill outs are just perfect, this is inspiration. In addition to that, he has a clever and enormously varied use of guitar effects, a lot of pissed off flangers are circulating the air.

"Six" proves that you don't have to be a virtuoso player or have long instrumentals to scratch that progy itch, it's enough to have a good vision and and a few new and inventive ideas to get the attention of the prog community. For generally describing the album I'll mention some of the highlights here. The opener "Six" is a good example, it starts with a beautiful verse and chorus but then climax into something else, this rocks! without any notice it suddenly eases up and falls into a quiet part, and it's only 2.5 minutes in. Much later it returns back to the main theme, and there goes a busy and crowded 8 minutes. "Shotgun" doesn't stay on the same idea and constantly jumps from one interlude to the other mixing three different verses (or are they choruses???), and if this 1.5 minutes wasn't enough already, they suddenly move to something that appears like a completely different song, it evolves further more and then easily returnes to the first part only with a different pace, as if it is clear it was the same song. Exciting!. The next part includes 4 relatively short songs which goes from one to the next, there are so many ideas going on here it's hard to keep up at first, but this is so well done and bravely connected. "Cancer" is another highlight taking god knows how many ideas into its 10 minutes, this is brilliant!

The lyrics are a crucial element to the understanding of the complete package. The album is divided into two acts like customary in a play or an opera, it's not by chance that the diving moment is an operatic interlude. Optimism is not the band's strongest side, the lyrics are desparately pessimistic and negative, and are apparently based on various books such as 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis De Sade and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne.

I hope more people can learn to appreciate this ambitious work, I know I have never heard anything quite like it. It's a rare statement even in Mansun's catalog. Inspite of the courage needed to record and produce "Six" in the most impeccable way, which have happened, they didn't go all the way through and the chosen singles for the album were brutally cut and reduced into 2 minutes songs, no wonder it didn't work. Anyway this is still a masterpiece, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

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 Six by MANSUN album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.24 | 18 ratings

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Six
Mansun Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Mansun's Six is best experienced in its original, full-length track listing of 13 songs (or 14 if you have the Japanese-only bonus track); a castrated version of the album was issued in the US with only 11 tracks, but when a band dedicates itself this thoroughly to excess trying to hold back becomes counter-productive. This isn't the first time anyone tried to fuse British indie rock of the Britpop era with progressive rock - Marillion tried a somewhat similar experiment with Brave a few years earlier, though that leaned much more heavily on the prog side of the equation - but Mansun's Six deserves notice for the way it applies proggy song structures to songs performed more or less in a Britpop style, bar for the occasional technically complex bit and a few pretty keyboard flourishes.

The lyrical themes draw on various bits and pieces of pop culture - there's lots of Prisoner references, fourth Doctor Who Tom Baker reads a bit of poetry, in the last song you can hear the TARDIS dematerialising - but what's more interesting to me is how the band are able to put this all together into a cohesive musical trip. It took me a while to appreciate it and I'm not sure it's an unalloyed success, but it's a very worthwhile experiment which came up trumps - and was more or less ignored and forgotten about on release. Oh well.

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 Six by MANSUN album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.24 | 18 ratings

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Six
Mansun Crossover Prog

Review by AgentSpork

5 stars Note: This is a review of the European/Japanese release. If I recall, the American release of this album had a butchered tracklisting and the title track was completely different. No bueno, in my book.

This is one of those albums that catches you off guard when you first hear it. To be completely honest, I walked away from my first listen in total bewilderment... not quite sure if I actually liked what I heard. Having previously listened to their brit-pop "masterpiece" Attack of the Grey Lantern, I was completely thrown off by what I heard on their sophomore album, Six... in all the right ways. As Mansun ex-frontman Paul Draper himself said about the album, it was "commercial suicide, but artistically satisfying". Commercial suicide indeed, and I can certainly see why Mansun all but fell off the earth after the release of Six. To me, Six is an understated masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Obviously, this isn't your dad's style of progressive rock, a la Yes or King Crimson, though you can certainly tell they drew some artistic inspiration from some of the greats. It is, and this may frighten some of you hardcore proggies, a highly catchy album with a lot of the brit-pop tinges that made Mansun famous on their first album. However, whereas "Attack of the Grey Lantern" only had a small taste of experimental songwriting, Six blew the door wide open, offering the most ambitious album from a brit-pop artist I have ever seen.

An album quite like nothing I've ever heard before, or will probably hear any time in the future, "Six" by Mansun is easily one of my top picks for a deserted island album. Unfortunately, after the release of this album, frontman Paul Draper was essentially removed from all creative duties within the band, and they went on to release but one more album before splitting up.

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 Six by MANSUN album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.24 | 18 ratings

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Six
Mansun Crossover Prog

Review by Textbook

5 stars One of the great over-looked gems of British prog. After being a little bit proggish on their also excellent debut Attack Of The Grey Lantern, Mansun went the full hog here with the incredibly complex and uncompromising Six.

Do you like records that have been obsessively assembled with all sorts of tiny little details hidden in the sound? Where you can notice new things after listening to it for years? Then you may be interested in Six.

Completed very quickly after the debut (mostly through the fact that mainman Paul Draper's life more or less WAS Mansun and he was effectively living in the studio which is also why it's so detailed) Six loses the humour and pop of their debut which alienated some fans. In fact not only are there no Stripper Vicars here, it's even one of the bleakest, most unapologetically depressed albums I've never heard. If you're in the right mood and feeling a bit sorry for yourself, something like Legacy can be devestating. Across the album Draper lyrically and apathetically pulls apart most of life's great institutions as being a bit crap. Self reinvention through finding a new religion (Shotgun) or transgenderism (Being A Girl) are suggested as ways out but no matter how much you change, you're still going to die and be forgotten (Legacy). If you're listening to this album, you're never going to all that rich and famous (Special). Religion is a blood-sucking vampire (Cancer). Nothing comes out like you want it to (Six). Over all is this nagging shadow that this depression is basically what life as.

And there's also the dark heart of Witness To A Murder II where the lyric seems to suggest that you watch the world kill you and don't do anything about it. Incredibly sinister (and performed by Tom Baker from Doctor Who, and with some real opera singers on the track too!?) Witness To A Murder II seems incredibly pretentious at first pass but gradually comes to actually appear genuinely significant though it's hard to put why into words. There's "something" lurking in Baker's monologue that doesn't, and perhaps shouldn't, quite make itself known.

Interesting story about Six is that when I first heard it I hated it. I found the extreme and lunatic shifts of direction on songs like Six, Shotgun and Cancer annoying and pointless and the whole thing just seemed ugly and morose. I actually returned it. But then I found I couldn't stop thinking about it and ended up buying it again, the only time I've ever done this. It's supposed to be ugly and morose. This is Draper's bold and unflinching confrontation with the emptiness inside him and it's no surprise that after doing something so momentous he found it hard to continue creatively and the band petered out.

Better than OK Computer? Easily. A must for those interested in British prog.

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 Attack Of The Grey Lantern by MANSUN album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.17 | 16 ratings

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Attack Of The Grey Lantern
Mansun Crossover Prog

Review by Textbook

5 stars ALL HAIL BRIT-PROGS FORGOTTEN MASTERS.

Occupying fairly lonely territory between brit-pop and prog, Mansun dropped two brilliant albums, a fairly suspect third one that ended up killing the group and a series of dazzling EPs in their brief but worthy career. I have possibly never been more saddened at the break-up of a group- though that third LP was a bit crap, it did at least continue their trend of doing something very different each time and even though the aborted fourth album was released in its unfinished form, we can't say that it really represents what the band would have done next because it is incomplete.

We shall always fondly remember their video for Taxloss where they took the entire shoot budget in cash, threw it from the roof of a train station and filmed the ensuing scramble.

But getting on to Attack Of The Grey Lantern itself- wow. What a debut. Packed with excellence from the beautiful string section that opens The Chad Who Loved Me to the brilliantly worded Open Letter To The Lyrical Train Spotter, one of the funniest lyrics I've ever seen in prog.

AOTGL is not as openly progressive as Mansun's follow-up Six, the record that really suggested they could have been a prog band had they survived, but it is certainly easier to like. Songs like Egg Shaped Fred, She Makes My Nose Bleed, Wide Open Space and Stripper Vicar are extremely catchy but not too commercial, edgy and accessible at the same time.

From the cheesy romantic almost-disco feel of Mansun's Only Love Song (another ironic song concept given away by the title) to the freak-out Taxloss (and you should check out the uncut version of Taxloss which is floating around somewhere at about 15 minutes) to the epic, emotional closer Dark Mavis, this is rich, intoxicating, high-quality stuff.

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 Six by MANSUN album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.24 | 18 ratings

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Six
Mansun Crossover Prog

Review by JonnyM79

5 stars How good is this album? Well, let me put it this way. I am a huge fan of and own all or most of the discographies of: Genesis, Gentle Giant, Kong Crimson, Transatlantic, Pink Floyd and a host of other progressive groups. Part one of Mansun's Six (that's the first 8 tracks - although they're actually blended to one continuous peice) is the finest peice of music in my collection, above all of these. How can this be?

Mansun had hit number one with their previous album, and dented the top 10 of the singles charts - this is not the place you typically find a prog band pushing the boundaries. How did they follow this up? With (as their frontman Paul Draper put it) "Around 30 song fragments of about 30 seconds linked together featuring not one chorus" (this isn't quite true actually). Listening to the album this keeps things moving at a frenetic pace - ideas keep tumbling out faster than you can comprehend, while the playing veers from the energy of their live punk roots to the minimalism of a solo piano. The centrepeice of the album is the track Cancer, rounding off part one with a full-blown and suitably bombastic prog guitar solo. The second half is a showcase for Mansun's lyrical ability with barbed attacks on TV culture (Television) and the shallowness of cheap imitation (Legacy) worked around obscure references including the Marquis de Sade and Winnie The Pooh.

Radiohead have publicly acknowledged the ionfluence of this album, while The Mars Volta and Muse have also given it a musical nod. Fans of any of these bands will be richly rewarded, while symphonic fans might be surprised how much there is to enjoy. Five stars only because Six (obviously the appropriate score) is not available!

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 Attack Of The Grey Lantern by MANSUN album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.17 | 16 ratings

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Attack Of The Grey Lantern
Mansun Crossover Prog

Review by JonnyM79

4 stars Was this ever a surprise when it was released!

Prior to this release Mansun had gained some commercial success in the singles charts with a couple of releases, notably Wide Open Space, which also gained large amounts of radio airplay. They seemed to be grouped by the media with other "Britpop" bands such as Blur and Pulp. Looks can be deceiving, and it's amusing to imagine what the Britpop hordes who must have rushed to buy this album (it made no. 1 in the UK album chart) made of what they got! Unfortunately it also meant that the band were largely overlooked by those of a more progressive disposition and have had to be rediscovered somewhat (perhaps this iswhy they were only added to ProgArchives in 2010)

Having secured a deal with a major record label Mansun had the bravery to release their debut album Attack of the Grey Lantern. What we have here is a debut concept album, based around the eccentric and unusual characters in a seemingly sleepy English village, and the secrets they hide behind their supposedly respectable public exteriors; from the sado-masochist of She Makes My Nose Bleed to the deranged accountant of Taxloss, the stocking-wearing perverted clergyman of Stripper Vicar, and the mysterious Mavis of the final track.

The music, as befits a concept, blends seamlessly from one track to the next, mixed with weird sound effects such as air-raid sirens and animal noises. The album opens to a lush string arrangement which blends to a guitar solo - it is some time before lyrics make an appearance. Stand-out tracks include Mansun's Only Love Song (inevitably it's not actually a love song at all) and Disgusting - the revulsion in the lyrics contrasted by a delicate arrangement and beautiful melody. Influences are hard to define, although it's possible to draw comparisons to Pink Floyd, while the surreal imagery of the lyrics might be closer to early Genesis. Add some Bowie, and a punk influence (most noticeable on their live set) and you're still only half way there. Lyrics are as outstanding as the brilliant titles would suggest.

Although it's clearly at the crossover end of the prog spectrum (probably sitting somewhere near Phideaux in "proginess" rating) this is an interesting album to any prog fan and serves as the perfect warm-up before tackling their masterwork "Six". Although part of me thinks that any band that manages to get signed to a major label and then presents them with a concept album as a first offering (at a time when prog was still a joke in the commercial sector) deserves a five star rating, four stars is correct for the musical quality

NOTE TO AMERICAN PROGGERS: Due to some American executive idiot the USA release of this album had jumbled track listing (obviously destroying the continuous flow) and one track dropped and replaced by an inferior B-side. Unless you think that concept albums are improved by being played in shuffle mode this is obviously to be avoided like the plague - pay for the import - it's worth it.

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 Six by MANSUN album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.24 | 18 ratings

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Six
Mansun Crossover Prog

Review by richardh
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Mansuns second album was always going to be a tricky affair. How do follow up the success (artistic and commercial) of Attack of the Grey Lantern? It seems the record company thankfuly were still happy to let the 4 lads from Chester have their head.The result is certainly a more confident effort although I feel it lacks the prog credentials of their debut. No orchestral arrangements and the songs feel less connected. On the plus side the band are considerably tighter and are playing better than before. There is also a good consistency to the music overall with no tapering off of quality towards the end as seemed to be the with the debut.Thats a good achievement for an album with a running time of 70 minutes. Could I recommend this album to prog fans? Perhaps not as much as AOTGL but if you are looking for indie rock with a brain that packs a decent punch then this may just hit the spot.

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 Attack Of The Grey Lantern by MANSUN album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.17 | 16 ratings

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Attack Of The Grey Lantern
Mansun Crossover Prog

Review by richardh
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Great to see Mansun included in progarchives. I've been listening to them quite a lot recently and this album is top of my personal playlist. I just wonder how many bands would even consider doing something as ambitious as this on a first release? Probably very few. Track 1 'The Chad Who Loved Me' opens with a sweeping orchestral intro which reminds me of classic John Barry scores for the Bond films.The drums and bass join in before the guitar and vocals take over.Feels like you are in a dream as the strings take over and then finishes with some strange animal noises and what sounds like kids playing. Weird stuff as is much of this album. 'Mansuns Only Love Song' although containing some nice melody and vocal harmonies is not really a love song so this is a bit of a misnomer! The in-jokey nature of the title is typical of the album. 'Taxloss' is probably the best remembered of all Mansuns tracks.A very obvious Beatles pastiche recalling 'Tomorrow never knows' but with Mansun's weird sense of humour.Later destined to become a favourite of their live shows. The acoustic guitar intro on 'You,who do you hate?' wouldn't be out of place on a Pink Floyd album before the song takes a bit of a darker twist. I love this track to bits.The vocals and powerfull drumming stand out. Word War 2 air raid sirens help to add atmosphere. The track that introduced me to Mansun was 'Wide Open Space' and is still a personal favourite.The guitar and keyboards in the middle of the song are fantastic. This just works totally.See the video (UK version) and be very scared! 'Stripper Vicar' (another great song title) injects a bit of humour just at the right time.Good bright and breazy tune.''When a vicar strips he gets away with it!'' 'Disgusting' is another dark dreamy song like the opening track.Another good un that keeps the ball rolling. 'She makes my nose bleed' sees more orchestration and vies with '..Space' and 'Taxloss' for the best song on the album.Production is spot on and everything perfectly in place. 'Naked Twister' (do Mansun have ordinary song titles? ..answer NO) is pretty ordinary Indie stuff. Its around this time the album starts to run out of steam. 'Egg Shaped Fred' and 'Dark Mavis' are okay but don't really take the music anywhere.Nevertheless the first 8 songs make this a very worthwhile debut effort.

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Thanks to dean for the artist addition.

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