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Man - Keep On Crinting: The Liberty/UA Years Anthology (1971-75) CD (album) cover

KEEP ON CRINTING: THE LIBERTY/UA YEARS ANTHOLOGY (1971-75)

Man

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.31 | 4 ratings

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questionsneverknown
3 stars This compilation is not a bad way to get introduced to Man, who, along with the all-Cymraeg Edward H. Dafis, were one of the brightest stars of Welsh rock in the 1970s (and still going). The two discs here include a healthy sampling of some of their best songs from 1970 to 1975, from their third album "Man" up through "Slow Motion." This was when they were on Liberty/UA, and it is the period that probably best captures some of Man's most progressive moments.

Perhaps the best way to describe Man is to draw a line with Hawkwind at one end and Camel at the other and then place Man right in the middle. The point of this illustration is not that Man necessarily sounds much like either of these bands but that their particular form of extended blues jams is far more structured than the space hippies but far more loose and stoned than the symphonic rockers.

Listening to the two discs back to back it's hard not to see another mathematical figure, a bell curve, since it all starts off all right, gets a whole lot better and then tapers off at the end again. Earlier tracks, like "Daughter of the Fireplace" (which definitely prefigures Meatloaf), "Manillo" and "Angel Easy" are rather straight-forward blues and boogie numbers, with a tinge of 1950s rock 'n' roll added. Things start to get interesting with the live tracks "The Storm" and "Spunk Rock." Here we can start to hear what Man did really well, which was stretch out over a long period of time, building up memorable riffs through good long jams, not unlike a heavier rocking version of the Grateful Dead.

There are also moments here where they offer up some scintillating 70s power pop, especially on the Sparks-like "Back into the Future" and the catchy "The Single (I'm Dreaming)." As Disc Two starts, we get dropped back into two more extended live tracks, "C'mon," with its early Floydish opening, and their strong staple, "Many are Called But Few Get Up." After this, things start to get a little more mixed. "California Silks and Satins" sees Man offering up their take on Crosby, Stills and Nash or the Eagles, and it's definitely their most vocally adventurous song here, but in general vocals are not their strong suit. (It is a good song, though.) "Scotch Corner" is a great track, also from "Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics." By the end of the second disc, though, "It's a Hard Way to Live" and the other final tracks start to get a little more boilerplate rock and none of it is just quite as memorable, especially from a prog angle.

More ambitious than your average blues band, but never as epic as your average symphonic prog band, one gets the feeling that Man were quite happy to be a "good time group." No complex concepts, the lyrics are never sophisticated and don't really aim to be, and the rhythms tend toward a simpler, repetitive groove. As long as you're having a good time. But the guitar work and the arrangements of their instrumental sections are really quite good, making them sound anywhere in the realms of the Allman brothers, Bad Company, Fläsket Brinner, or, even Camel.

More than 3 stars, but not quite essential.

questionsneverknown | 3/5 |

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