From 1975 to 1976.

Autumn 1975 found the Manband camped out in Headley Grange once more. An invitation to rejoin the group had been sent out to keyboard player Phil Ryan, and despite the tensions of his previous involvement he gladly accepted. Phil describes the events; "One day I was going home from London on a train....Terry was on the train. We really had a nice journey down together, we hadn't seen each other for ages. So a week later I got a phone call you know - it was a crisis phone call, the usual story in the Manband - tell me something new. It was like 'What're you doing?', it was THE CALL you know. I must admit I'd missed being in a unit that could actually go out and do gigs without having to worry about the practical details. Man were equipped, and were in a position to do gigs and I thought that was very attractive to me after being in the studio all this time."

The Welsh Connection Line-up
L-R Phil, Deke, Terry, Micky, John

Auditions for the bass player's berth eventually saw John McKenzie being offered the job. Writing and rehearsals for the new album, 'Welsh Connection' took them through to Christmas and into the early part of 1976. The new lineup - the thirteenth - had another different style, smoother and more accomplished musically thanks to McKenzie's lyrical bass lines, and with a funky edge to it. February brought a handful of shows in France, then a handful in middle England before March ushered in the next major nationwide tour, a series that ran through until mid-April. The UK tour did reasonably well, and critical reaction was positive but guarded. The summer tour of Europe and Scandinavia went well and was neatly interleaved by a third American tour which had been rescheduled from April and May to July and August.

1976 Band
band from 1976

In San Francisco the band hooked up once more with John Cipollina for shows at the Keystone in Berkeley but once again the strains were beginning to surface. A two week break back home helped a little, but then a gruelling and hassle filled trip around Europe proved to be the final straw. Phil decided he was leaving, and John McKenzie was going with him. Terry, Micky and Deke decided enough was enough the band would finish after a farewell UK tour.

To most fans the news came as a shock. The internal struggles had been kept well hidden, live performances were always top notch and it seemed like the group would go on progressing, evolving and changing forever. Behind the scenes however it was a very different matter. Attempts at writing for a further studio album were abandoned amongst savage arguments and bitter resentment. Manager Barry Marshall negotiated with the new record company and got them to accept a single 'in concert' album as completion of the original three record deal. The swansong, 'All's Well That Ends Well', was recorded at the Chalk Farm Roundhouse, and there were three more gigs at Leicester, Harrogate and finally at the Fulcrum Theatre in Slough, on December 16th 1976. For many of us who were there that night, the last note, of the last song, of the last encore was the moment that much of the joy went out of the music business. From then on the aggressive, skill-free, humourless angst of the Punk movement took over. I can't ever remember being so depressed after a night out.