Author Topic: Newbie: Olden Daze 5 (Pt 2)  (Read 2491 times)

edgesofvision

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Newbie: Olden Daze 5 (Pt 2)
« on: December 23, 2009, 11:10:11 AM »
Man: The Twelfth Man (Pt 2)
Jerry Gilbert, Sounds, December 6th 1975
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In 1966, the psychedlic explosion hit Wales, and the Bystanders steeped themselves in everything going. As the albums filtered in from America they added 'Eight Miles High' and Moby Grape's 'Hey Grandma' to their set, but as they got more and more into psychedelics they began to think of writing original material. In 1968 the above four added Deke and called themselves Man. Apart from a couple of tunes like 'I Am The Walrus', they played entirely original music. They found it impossible to find gigs ? the couple of times they played they got through about two numbers before the shouts for "Geno" and soul music overpowered them. In the words of Phil Ryan: "When the bands in South Wales stopped doing other people's material, that's when difficulty, poverty and real experience started happening."

The couple of times: In the Winter of 1968 they played the Speakeasy, then a gig in Paris and then Blaises, and the following September they met their manager Barry Marshall, who began to get them dates a bit more frequently. Between their first two gigs, they recorded Revelation, their first album.
The Bystanders had been signed to Pye. When the underground became a business proposition Pye followed all the other major record companies and formed Dawn Records, their progressive label for progressive bands. Man being progressive, they found themselves you-know-where. They were saddled with house producer John Schroeder, whose previous artistes had been Sounds Orchestral and Helen Shapiro. Micky recalls with pleasure sitting in John Schroeder's office being genned that the word for these freaky people with long hair and funny clothes was "heads".
(Phil Ryan, for his part, tells of photos "of Clive John, one moment with super short hair, and then the next one his hair is a bit longer and he has a fringed jacket, but he still has suit trousers." Heads indeed.)
"He used to come in for a while", says Deke, "then go to the Cumberland for his nosh and come back about three hours later, so we had a free hand, mostly, but unfortunately he had complete control over the mixes, which may not have been a bad thing, because at that time we didn't have any idea about mixing anyway. We'd never been in a studio before.
Phil, meanwhile, was still with the largely alcoholic Eyes Of Blue, who continued to play the Tempts and other Motown staples though a couple of, umm, experimenters were injecting their own psychedelic licks. They came to London and played Blaises (where. Phil reckons, Yes used to come and watch and steal their ideas) and the Speak one night and Middle Earth the next. Very schizophrenic. They eventually released three albums whose titles are gems of the era: Crossroads Of Time, In Fields Of Ardoth and Bluebell Wood. The last album was recorded as Big Sleep. "It's the most miserable LP", marvels Phil. "It makes Lou Reed look like the Bay City Rollers."
Barry Marshall met Man via Bill Fowler and Dave Most. Marshall was an agent for the likes of the Beach Boys, the Kinks and Dave Dee, Dozy, etc. Fowler was a plugger for Carlin Publishing and contacted Marshall regarding this group Man, who were having a freak hit in France with a single (culled from the album) called 'Erotica', a would-be 'Je T'aime' with Anya Wilson (later a plugger for Bowie and McCartney) heaving lacklustre sighs of desire, and shouldn't we try to do something for them here? Marshall met them in Al Baster's Kensington Church Street flat; they hadn't eaten for four or five days, were heavily in debt, and had just about given up. Marshall was sick of performing a manager's duties while supposedly being an agent, and Man were the vehicle for him to move into the main arena.

When English gigs were not forthcoming he started booking them in Germany, where things San Franciscan were catching on a year or two late. Or in the words of Deke Leonard, "It was a drug era. Here, we'd go to a gig loaded up on psychedelics and look around and it was like playing to a different planet. When we went to Germany we looked around and suddenly everybody looked like us. Immediate identification. We used to play four to five hour sets. It was a magic period, really."

They started making up to ?250 a night in Germany, which got them through the lean periods back home. For a year and a half they built a following in Germany, culmination at a festival of British acts in Berlin which featured Yes, Soft Machine and Family. Roy Hollingsworth gave Man a major write up and offers for gigs in England began to filter in: the Wake Arms, Epping, ?4 and a percentage, and the next time ?6. "What you call prestige gigs."
Apart from their second LP, Man resisted going into the studio until Pye assumed they had broken up and their contract lapsed. The rounds began. Andrew Lauder, newly appointed A&R man at United Artists was flat hunting, and in tracking down newly vacant Al Baster's place was given the full hype on Man. He went to see them at the Factory in Leicester Square, a short lived club where the DJ played nothing but Deep Purple and the audience consisted prominently of Lauder, Marshall and a creditor Marshall was doing his best to avoid. Martin Ace had just shaved his head and Deke sat on the stage all evening making seagull noises with his guitar. Andrew thought it pretty good. They hit it off and he signed them as his first act.
Their first record for UA, Man, the group weren't satisfied with. Deke had left the band and then rejoined, and Ray Williams and Jeff Jones had been replaced by Martin Ace and Terry Williams. The unit hadn't settled in properly. Also, according to Micky: "We'd been playing the numbers in Germany and we jammed a lot. We had a number, 'The Christians Wait Five Minutes, The Lions Are Having A Draw', and we gave it a terrific jam, and by the time we came to record, it had condensed itself down into a 15-20 minute number and it was played out."
"That's one of our main problems even now," adds Phil, "Because in essence the Man band is a jamming band and it's been very difficult to condense the essence of our music into precision type LP numbers."
The subsequent record, Do You Like It Here Now? (Are You Settling In?), had a bit more direction. For their first albums the band refused to admit they were in a studio and tried desperately for a live sound, but they were becoming comfortable, and although Do You Like It contained some of their best music (they still perform 'Many Are Called But Few Get Up') it was marred by being mixed in one 36-hour session before hopping in a van for Germany.
Says Deke: "I've always thought of this band as having done things in spite of things. In spite of having to record in that mausoleum of Pye studios, in spite of not getting gigs in England. All the way along it's been in spite of this, in spite of that. It's been an obstacle course, if you like. Whatever it is, it is. I'm a fatalist about these things."

The line-ups, of course, went right on changing. Deke was kicked out because "I was getting too good for them, know what I mean? I'm a chopsy person by nature, and it got to the point where no-one could get a straight answer out of me. The last rehearsal we had was a week where everybody shot down everybody else's ideas, and they couldn't talk to me, so they kicked me out. Then, of course, finally they couldn't do without me so they came and asked me back."
Part of the reasoning behind Deke's leaving was to get Phil Ryan in to explore the keyboard side of things. Subterfuge and deceit is a way of life in the Man band, everyone hatching plots for new line-ups and confiding them to the guys they went along. Deke invariably says yes to everything. "That way, whatever happens, you're in on it.
"I've left once and been kicked out once, and if ever I wasn't 100 per cent ecstatic...That's why there's been so many changes. Most bands ride through those periods, but this band ? if there's a personal conflict, that's the end of it. Someone will leave very soon."
Phil's theory is that the guitarists get tired every couple of years and that the keyboards are only brought in to let the axemen coast for a year. Micky grins in impish agreement.
The entire time, they giggled. Barry Marhsall is not a man who believes in an empty date book. UA are currently compiling an album featuring tracks from every Man line-up and wanted to print every gig in the band's career on the cover. To get them all in, the print would have to be so small you'd need a magnifying glass.

They started noticing a building audience around the end of 1972, and soon they could do a headlining tour. Then they really began to work.
Deke, after drifting around for a few months, recorded Iceberg and then formed a group of the same same, which, in grand Man tradition, went through several changes in its short life.
All the time, he and Micky were plotting, in usual fashion, how to get rid of Phil and Will Youatt so that Deke could rejoin. When the break-up finally came. Terry couldn't decide whether to stay or leave. Micky, supposedly, felt likewise. Deke rejoined with former Help Yourselfers Malcolm Morley and Ken Whaley. In the meantime the band had become quite big, headlining Britain's prestige venues, and Deke "felt like a pig in shit."
In 1973, manager Doug Smith invited Man to join Hawkwind on a "1999 Tour" of America. It was an extremely lucky break, as they were able to play for an hour or more. Their first gig was at the Embassy Theatre, an obscure edifice in downtown Los Angeles, where no-one from Hollywood would venture. It was one of their best gigs.
Two gigs later they were performing at a benefit for Timothy Leary at the Berkeley Community Theatre. Dr Tim's telephone message of greetings and good cheer from his prison cell was broadcast to the audience during Man's set. Deke felt obliged to say something afterwards, stepped to the mike and diplomatically said, "Well, whatever you think of the man, he's helped me through a few trips."
They toured America for three months, proving exceedingly popular on the west coast, with isolated pockets in St Louis and Detroit.
When they returned a year later, they discovered all the horrors of being an unknown in America. Not receiving any support from their record company, they were batted around in promoter-manager-tour manoeuvres, doing 30-minute openers for REO Speedwagon and Blue Oyster Cult, before being dropped for devious reasons, and then worked one-off gigs as they were found. It got to the point where REO Speedwagon asked them to change ends in a bland, fifty-foot long locker-room cum dressing room, and then threw them out. They changed onstage, behind the curtain.
The lack of work was not without its benefits, though. It allowed them, for instance, to spend a week hanging out in Atlanta. Finally, though, they worked around to San Francisco.

San Francisco has always treated them as a home band, the highest tribute Man could receive. A lot of their devotion undoubtedly has to do with FM DJ Phil Charles, who ran "the downer set" ? midnight to six, six nights a week at a San Jose station. He and Ron Sanchez became increasingly intense Man maniacs, until finally they were reading entire British pop paper articles on the band over the air. They now proselytise over the vastly more influential KSAN ? just two weeks ago, Phil was playing entire sides of Maximum Darkness.
The last two nights of the tour were at Winterland. Bill Graham liked them so much ? "which was a real buzz as well" ? he asked them back as a headline act in two weeks time. In the meantime he would give them a gig or two out of town. But Ken Whaley maintained that to him the tour was finished and he intended returning home. The band were in a state of confusion, not knowing whether to follow him or call for a replacement. Martin Ace flew out.
While they were rehearsing at the Sausalito heliport there was a knock at the door. Terry opened it and the lanky stranger drawled, "Hi, I'm John Cippolina." Terry shut the door. He went to the others. "It's him." Phil Charles had played Cippolina Man albums and encouraged him to contact them.
On their return to Winterland, Graham stepped to the microphone for the first personal intro since George Harrison and said, "Once in a while a good band comes along, and we think you should hear them again." Cipolina joined them for the encore. As soon as he and Deke plugged in both their amps started buzzing, but Cip just dived in so Deke shrugged and joined him. Man are generally a static band, but Cip was leaping all over the place, so the band shrugged again. "It was like 8.30 at Waterloo on a Monday morning."
As soon as they came offstage they knew they wanted to bring him to England. He agreed.

Each member has his own thoughts about whether the tour with Cippolina was successful. Deke maintains that he benefitted greatly. Successful or not, it resulted in Maximum Darkness, which firmly established Man as a chart act and spawned the rumour that because Cippolina was so out of tune, most of his parts had been replayed by Micky.
It was a great rumour, started by Terry and spread by their publicist. Deke: "What happened was, I didn't realise how steeped in blues Cippolina was. It's all there, even to the out of tune guitar. And he arrived in a band that is very paranoid about tuning, mainly because we can't get into it most of the time; So he didn't give a fuck about tuning, just wail away.
"When we got to the studio the only song that was impossible to use was 'Bananas', where he used an old Hawaiian guitar, which I swear must have had the same strings as when it was first bought in 1940. And he's never tuned it and played it with the blade of a knife. On the other tracks, we just had to mix him down so it didn't sound too bad."
Micky: "Who could play like him, anyway?"
By now Martin Ace was wanting to call it a day. The band found themselves in a unique position: for the first time there was no available friend to call upon. They had to audition. They decided to hire Headley Grange for two months, assuming they would find a new man fast and get in a month or more of writing and rehearsing.

John McKenzie was their fifth prospective associate. He had just left the Global Village Trucking Co. because it was going nowhere. Since his father was musical, he had been playing since five, growing up on jazz before branching into rock and soul. He used to see Man quite a bit during their Phil/Will line-up.
Man had concluded they didn't like auditions. If John didn't work out they were calling Matti, a German friend. Deke had discovered a bottle of hair lotion and greased his back, got out his leathers and chains and was poncing around as a rocker for the day. Without even thinking about his appearance he confronted John and after five minutes asked if auditions were usually like this. "Uh, no," replied John. Usually they last five minutes." Man jammed for over an hour. Although they knew immediately that the right man had arrived, they waited until he went to his room before going through the motions and then delegating a spokesman to tell him.
Meanwhile, Phil Ryan was also being recalled. Before joining Man the first time, he Will and Clive John had been the Neutrons. They never played a gig and had a drummer who never played with them. "He used to tap things and roll joints. A really great drummer." When he left Man he and Will recorded an album as the Neutrons, only subsequently deciding to form a group again.
After two albums they broke up over musical differences. They had been together four years; splitting up was upsetting. Finally, Phil talked with Andrew Lauder, went down to Rockfield and started on a solo LP. One night, pissed out of his head, he received a call from Micky to rejoin Man. He was there is a flash.
"You can hide yourself in Man."

They plan to have an album finished by January. The well established routine is to rehearse and write for a week before recording and then complete the album in four weeks. Deke reckons the songs are usually best two years after they record them.
With their popularity rising via word-of-mouth, they've had ample opportunity to dissect the reasons for it in the intense group conversations the band perpetually hold. For instance, with the burgeoning fashion for boogie a lot of people are picking up on them due to elements that could be construed as boogie. "But to do a whole set of that," says Deke, "It's not us, really."
They speak of their uncompromising position, which has kept the band going above all else. According to Phil. "When Man started, psychedelic music and psychedelic fashions and psychedelic philosophies were very fashionable, and although a lot of it was naive, a lot of its was very nice. One of the difficulties that a group like us face now is retaining the essence of what that was all about without compromising outselves."
Ultimately, success is merely something "nice" because as Phil also points out, the Man band and most Welsh musicians play just from love of music. "It's much better to be in a rock and roll band than work in a steel company or oil refinery or coal mines. The incentive behind most Welsh musicians was that it was much better than going into all that horror."
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Mike M

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Re: Newbie: Olden Daze 5 (Pt 2)
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2009, 06:00:53 PM »
More great stuff.  Thanks.
These are my principles.  If you don't like them I have others.

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Nick Nation

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Re: Newbie: Olden Daze 5 (Pt 2)
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2009, 06:13:12 PM »
John McKenzie was their fifth prospective associate.

...other than Ray and Matti, I have often wondered who the other two were...not all the time obviously - just in short bursts of obsessiveness. Like now, for example. It might have been someone famous, or more likely infamous....

mikes

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Re: Newbie: Olden Daze 5 (Pt 2)
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2009, 08:24:01 PM »
Ray? Ray Williams, Nick? Hadn't he been asked way before they went to Headley Grange?

Nick Nation

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Re: Newbie: Olden Daze 5 (Pt 2)
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2009, 09:47:12 PM »
Ray? Ray Williams, Nick? Hadn't he been asked way before they went to Headley Grange?

Yes...and hmmm...in fact, Matti wouldn't have been on the shortlist - it appears he spontaneously gave it a go. At least I now know why I couldn't find an answer to my question 'Who were the other two?'....I should have been asking 'Who were the other four?' instead.

Paul McCartney? Phil Lynott? Bernard Edwards? Bit of a long shot, perhaps...Gaye Advert?   

Rob W

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Re: Newbie: Olden Daze 5 (Pt 2)
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2009, 11:36:36 AM »
More great stuff.  Thanks.

And ditto from me. :)