After the split at the end of 1976, the various band members went their own
ways, either breathing new life into old projects, or looking ahead to newer
horizons. Deke Leonard reconstituted Iceberg, with Memphis bend man Lincoln
Carr on bass, and Terry Williams who was moonlighting from his other project,
a reformed Rockpile. In the summer of 1977 Micky Jones briefly put together
a band to demo some new songs, working with John McKenzie, Malcolm Morley
and Derek Ballard, previously drummer with A Band Called O. Phil Ryan and
John McKenzie had intended to work together on a project described as 'Vista
Sylvector' with Taff Williams and Steve Jones, but found that this didn't
work out as planned.
Deke Leonard found himself the only Manband survivor with a recording contract
intact. Back with United Artists he began recording for a new solo album,
working at Rockfield Studios again, with a rhythm section of Martin Ace and
Terry Williams. the sessions were junked however. In 1979 a second attempt
was made with Martin Rushent producing. The resulting album,
'Before Your Very Eyes'
was held back for two years thanks to an unimpressed record company exec
at UA. Deke was at that time working with amongst others Reg Isadore, a drummer
who had previously been with guitarist Robin Trower, Help Yourself guitarist
Richard Treece and slide guitar player B.J. Cole and who had also briefly
worked with him in Help Yourself, adding some superb atmospherics to their
performance on the 'Christmas
At The Patti' album. With Deke's career effectively on hold though he
relocated briefly to Los Angeles. He was invited across to do some session
work for a Walter Egan solo album, 'The Last Stroll', but wasn't fully utilised;
"I ended up sitting in L.A." he said, "Getting wrecked all the time - which
is easy to do in L.A! After ten weeks I said I've got a life to live, I can't
just sit around. I'm a go-getter, turn me loose!"
Back in the UK it was ex-Help Yourself roadie and Ducks Deluxe frontman Sean
Tyla who kept Deke occupied with a stint
another shortlived project 'The Force', together with Micky Groome on bass
and drummer Paul Simmons. An album - entitled 'Force's First' was recorded
and released in Germany and also featured Terry Williams and Martin Ace on
two tracks. The band collapsed spectacularly in 1982 when Sean Tyla suffered
an onstage panic attack at Dingwalls in Camden. Says Deke; "We'd done the
album, and in the middle of the set Sean shuffled up to me and whispered
in my ear, 'I'm just going off, I'm gonna have a nervous breakdown!' So I
laughed, but then I saw he was serious. Off he went behind the stage so we
went on as a three-piece...When we got backstage Sean was a real mess, said
he couldn't face it any more and as far as I know that's the last gig he
ever did." So The Force became Iceberg once more and gigs were soon coming
in thanks to the services of agent Dave Betteridge who had seen the demise
of the Leonard/Tyla project. Deke again; "So he started booking gigs for
us and that's when people started telling him 'What are you bothering with
Deke Leonard for; why don't Man get back on the road?' So that was the start
of all that..."
Micky Jones also found the intervening years to be a frustrating time. In
mid-1978 he formed the Micky Jones Band, with Tweke Lewis on second guitar,
Steve Dixon on drums and vocals, Ray Jones (ex-Sassafras) on bass and vocals and Steve
Gurl from Wild Turkey on keyboards. Ray was later replaced by Al McLaine. 'Talk About A Morning' - an old Buzzy
Linhart number - featured live from 1978 onwards as did the unreleased 'Welsh
Boy' but the five piece lineup didn't last long. "It was at the height of
Punk and that made it very difficult. It was a cold shock to anything else
going." explained Micky in a TWC interview. Through a process of gradual
attrition the group slimmed down to a three-piece line up of Jones, Dixon
and McLaine, appearing through 1980-1981 as Manipulator, and later briefly
as The Acidtones. Tweke Lewis turned his attention to more mundane matters;
"I had to get myself together and earn some money to buy a house. I settled
down with a girlfriend, then went into computers and worked for Abbey National
for ten years on their mainframe computer at Milton Keynes."
Micky reflects on Manipulator; "Stripping down to a three-piece band was
a hell of a change...never having been in one as far back as I could remember.
I'd always worked with another guitarist or a keyboard player. It took a
bit of getting used to, but as soon as I realised I wasn't frightened of
the space I really enjoyed it. For me it was the best line-up of the whole
period." During this time some later Manband favourites would be written
or remembered, and honed through live performance. 'Asylum' and 'Last Birthday
Party' were co-written by Steve Dixon, 'Talk About A Morning' and 'Back Together
Again' were also frequent live songs. The three-piece band weren't fashionable
though, a wry Micky Jones remembers; "We were likened to The Police at times.
I honestly think we didn't push it enough....that was basically it."
The Flying Pigs
In late 1981 he disbanded Manipulator and with Mick Hawksworth from Ten Years Later on
bass and drummer Phil Little formed the Flying Pigs. Some recordings were
made at Alvin Lee's studio, and also at Peter Ker's Scarf Studios in London
- later the scene of recording for The Twang Dynasty - but no releases came
about as a result of these sessions. Andrew Middleton says of this period;
"Micky was now using his Stratocaster and playing just as it pleased him.
Numbers were a mix of his own material, popular covers, and some long songs
with extended solos on all instruments. I think most of the Manipulator songs
had gone, but they were still playing 'Talk About A Morning'. Around the
Autumn of 1982 the band would leave Micky alone on stage, and with a series
of effects pedals he would play some of the strangest guitar I've ever heard,
sometimes for up to 20 minutes, and even the pool players would look up.
Micky was also playing from time to time at the Tunnel Club with a band called
'Corporal Henshaw', who lived by 'the more the merrier' attitude. Mick Hawksworth
was often involved, sometimes Albert Lee, but Micky always blew them away
when it came to his turn."
Terry Williams moved straight from Man into Rockpile, and caught the crest
of a brief rockabilly revival with Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe and Billy Bremner.
Tours of the USA followed, hit singles and albums and Rockpile survived the
new wave until 1982. Terry joined up with Meatloaf after being told by his
then manager; "I've just had an offer I can't understand never mind refuse,
I think you should take it..." The association didn't last long, difficulties
over finances sending Terry back to Swansea where within five days the phone
rang again with an offer from Dire Straits.
Pete Brown and Phil Ryan
With the Vista Sylvector project abandoned, Phil Ryan rekindled his partnership
with Pete Brown, ex-Cream lyricist and
band leader. Joining forces wth ex-Neutrons colleague guitarist Taff Williams,
John McKenzie on bass and Steve Jones on drums, The Brown & Ryan Band
played a handful of gigs on the south coast and in London during 1977. Ryan
was involved briefly in Martin and George Ace's Flying Aces project before
recording a few demos with Pete Brown, Taff Williams, Dill Katz on bass and
Jeff Seopardie on drums in mid 1978 under the name of Ray Gammond and the
Interoceters. Relocating to Denmark he then concentrated on writing soundtrack
music for film and TV. Further collabarations with Pete Brown resulted in
two albums, 'Ardours Of The Lost Rake' in 1991 and 'Coals To Jerusalem' in 1993.
Tracks from these two issues were later compiled into the 1996 offering 'The Land That Cream Forgot'.
John McKenzie's post Man career took him on a journey through some unfamiliar
stations. After the failure of Vista Sylvector and an abortive spell in the
Brown & Ryan Band, John briefly put together a project called Kid Plato.
With Canute Edwards on guitar, Nick Garnet on drums and Zarndee Gordon on
keyboards, John handled the bass and vocals but, as he later said; "That
didn't amount to much." Two years were spent gigging with guitarist Steve
Hillage, which resulted in a brief appearance on Hillage's 'Live Herald'
album. He spent time in an Irish band called Pulling Faces commuting backwards
and forwards to Dublin for eighteen months. There were also tours with The
Explorers - Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay's post Roxy Music band - with
The Christians and Seal, gigs and two albums with Alison Moyet, albums with
Bob Dylan, The Pretenders, George Michael's group Wham and comedian Lenny
Henry. Moving mainly into session work since the early eighties John has
an enviable CV and remains in touch with Phil Ryan and Pete Brown with whom
he works on an occasional project.
After leaving the group at the climax of the Maximum Darkness tour, Martin
Ace returned home to concentrate once more on The Flying Aces with his then
wife George. The Aces were joined by Micky Gee on guitar and, from the collapsing
Neutrons, Phil Ryan on keyboards and Stuart Halliday on drums. Before long
however Ryan had returned to Man for The Welsh Connection, and Halliday had
joined up with Will Youatt, Jimmy Davies and Jeff Singer for a spell in Alkatraz.
Martin and George invoked the Dave Charles clause for a short while. This
unwritten clause specifies that Dave Charles has to play with every group
associated with Man at some point in their existence without ever actually
playing for the Manband directly. Soon the line up changed again, with
ex-Badfinger drummer Mike Gibbins and guitarist Richard Treece joining up,
and an occasional appearance from Phil Ryan during the summer of 1977. The
Flying Aces toured extensively around Britain during 1976 and 1977 but, apart
from a fleeting appeance on Man's
Christmas At The Patti
album of 1972, never recorded. In Martin's view there was; "....no reason
why the Flying Aces should never have made a record, it was as good a band
as any that have made records." George Ace had a major input to the group's
direction and according to Martin; "The band sounded like it did because
of her rather than because of me. That's what I thought was interesting about
it, her contribution made it sound different." After the Aces split Martin
spent some time helping out on the Stiffs UK tour, acting as guitar mechanic
and occasional MC. In the early eighties he had a spell working with Micky
Jones backing local singer Peter Singh in the The Screaming Pakistanis. Then
there was a Dutch tour with acoustic guitar player and singer David Tipton
which also involved ex-Gentle Giant drummer John 'Pugwash' Weathers. 1983
was just around the corner.