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moshkito View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Maximum Darkness - Deke Leonard
    Posted: March 26 2018 at 11:51

Maximum Darkness
MAN on the Road to Nowhere
by Deke Leonard


It's hard to be critical of this book, just about the same way that one can not be critical of the work that the MANBAND did with its incredible list of albums. You might have a piece that you like more than the others, but in the end, you remember bits and pieces from so many of them, and no matter how you look at it, this is a list of albums that is simply too good ... to be ignored.

And I always thought that special things, usually have some special people behind them, and it isn't just a song ... there is something else there, and if you have any doubts, here it is.

Deke Leonard, sets out to describe life on the road ... to nowhere ... as he likes to state, since this book, was, for the most part, about the end of the band and its falling apart, in many cases due to what he calls their own conceptual nature about their music and how it was defined and designed. AND then the rest, including the record companies, many of which appear to have had some troubles with this band as they they had no singles, in a market that by 1974 was almost no longer about the singles as most FM stations in America played the top albums, not singles and the AM radio had died a long time ago, and no longer provided any reasonable money. This may have been different in Europe, and sometimes one gets the feeling that it was still important in England in the mid 1970's, although I doubt it because the proliferation of music out of that country and its college circuits had so much music that was not radio relevant.

A lot of these bands became art bands, and others just album bands, but to think that the MANBAND could not have made it because they had no singles is a bit strange, but it must have been the mindset and the feeling of how Deke Leonard describes a lot of the music business, and I think it was meant to say that a lot of their next material had to be a cookie cutter from that one piece everyone loved. I'm not sure the MANBAND was about a song, as much as the really nice musicianship in it, specially Deke and Micky's abilities together.

With that, this book takes off around the end of 1977 and their next tour, and the book continues until the last tour in what used to be East Germany (Leipzig) when Deke finally said that was it. The Wiki version states 2004 but it appears that the whole thing was coming to an end, as Micky Jones was diagnosed with a Brain Tumor, and his ability to play was pretty much gone except a few moments in between, and finally passed away a bit later, which must have taken the sails out of Deke to no end ... the greatest Welch guitar partnership ever.

The book is off the top, hysterical and crazy in its humor, first and foremost. The only bad part is that when things start falling apart towards the end of the century, that humor just seems to be off-kilter and out of place, and then, it's as if the music has lost a bit of its soul and its source, some of which, was undoubtedly just based on having fun and being funny and weird ... we don't go around listening to "All Good Clean Fun", or "Bananas", or "Never Say Nups to Nepalese" all the way through "C'mon" and its spectacular version in the "Back Into the Future" album, when Micky just flows along and gives the choir a counter melody that is just amazing to hear ... without appreciating some of its amazing moments that you know were a developed freedom of confidence and play on each other, that carries well ... both Deke and Micky were allowed to flow on their own more than likely, but it was not exactly reckless and some of it might have been planned, however, when you hear some things.

There are some absolutely amazing funny bits and pieces, and Smokey Robinson is one, Phil Linott is another, Tina Turner another, Eartha Kitt another, Alvin Lee another, then Wishbone Ash, then ... all the way until Eric Burdon (of Animals fame) who by that time had already lost a lot of his fame and was now playing the small clubs just like the MANBAND were. And none of these are safe from the funny stuff, although some of it comes off in bad moments ... like the crews for a few shows refusing to touch their equipment because they thought they only worked for the main draw, and not the supporting band as well.

The jokes and the dialog make the book breezy, fun, and a good read, however, knowing that the ending was likely not as much fun, and probably depressing for Deke without Micky around with whom he shared some unbelievable great guitar duets and play for so many years, took its toll and kinda made this man retire ... and, become a "raconteur", or as we know better, a writer. His style is very funny, and he does not spare his comments about some of the silly ideas and thoughts they had for so many years, but you are seeing this being written years later, so those comments are easy to make, although, he claims that some of it is a problem with his scrambled memory after his stroke in 1996.

All in all a nice read and very enjoyable, although I had to read it twice to try and formulate some sort of chronology with which to write this, but in the end, if the chronology on the book is not like the one that you find on Wiki or the Internet, you can blame Deke for me being off base. Either way, the stories stand up and they are, if not a real vision of what the road is like, they are a true testament to what the mind of a musician goes through when they are on the road. These moments are written with a special touch, that you and I would not look for in most rock musicians, what with their fame and their this and that ... but Deke Leonard, probably stands tall and well, for being not only funny, but true to himself and very human, acknowledging mistakes as well as anything else.

In the end, you and I can sit here and find how crazy and stupid and this and that the music business can be, and how sad it is that they do not recognize greatness, in favor of silly love songs for money, but in the end, I can easily tell you that I will never bother reading about Paul, or John, and that the human side of this whole thing, as seen by Deke Leonard, is in so many ways the way you and I see life, that it is scary and at the same time exciting. And we will laugh at the jokes as if we were having a dinner and wine and a joke or two with, maybe, a toke or two.

Laugh you will, trust me. And cry you will, also! But in the end, if that brings you down, just go ahead and put on some of the MANBAND albums, and fly away ... C'mon ... get going ... C'mon ... and don't forget the Choir! It just brings it all home like most bands will never be able to. This is what it is all about ... completely about! And Deke knows it, and allows us to see even more of it.

Excellent little book, and I am trying like crazy to get the others as I can not read the kindle stuff by Deke to read ... maybe some day I will get lucky! (too small and I can't print it!).

... none of the hits, none of the time ... now you know what the art is all about!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 26 2018 at 15:19
Thanks for that Moshkito, i'm going to treat myself to this; I met Deke and Micky a couple of times in the 80's & Love all the Manband lps. Just watched the Rockpalast 1975 concert and Deke and Micky were the coolest guitar duo EVER!
'Arse, Feck, Drink. Girls..' Father Jack Hackett, Craggy Island.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 27 2018 at 02:28
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interesting funny read indeed!

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