This popped through the letter box from those helpful chaps at Cherry Red a couple of weeks ago and I was a bit surprised that they’d sent me something from the mid 70s. Actually this is a re-release of the ninth album from Man, – originally released on UA Records – this one is released on Esoteric Recordings (ECLEC 2020) and comes with the original album plus a second CD recorded at the Whiskey a Go Go and previously unreleased – this release originally came out in 2007. The original album reached the giddying heights of 12 on the “hit Parade” in the UK. The album is produced by Roy Thomas Baker who you may know from his work with Queen.
Now, Man is an interesting band. For a start they’re Welsh, South Wales – Merthyr Tydfil in fact! If you look back into the bands history there have been numerous line up changes with people coming and going with great regularity and the only real mainstay being Micky Jones. Their style on this record can be roughly described as East coast psychedelia – which is no bad thing in my book.
Now, I have to be honest and declare that, despite the Hawkwind and Zappa connection (they played with Hawkwind as a four piece in ‘72 and supported Zappa in ‘73) Man were not a band that really dropped onto my radar in the years I was exploring rock music and this has been somewhat remiss of me I’d say – that said I was only 6 when this album first came out.
Rhinos, Whinos and Lunatics is an accomplished record that is a delight to listen to – a real blast from the past but still pretty fresh to these old ears. It’s got splashes of that East coast psychedelic vibe I mentioned, touches of country rock, splashes of pub rock and some great vocal harmonies. Lead guitar lines soar away in the background and there are extended instrumental jams which give away the period this album comes from. The opening track Taking the Easy Way Out is reminiscent of Pink Fairies circa Kings of Oblivion – again no bad thing! Stand out track for me though is Scotch Corner weighing in at an impressive nine minutes and four seconds and for some reason I’m reminded of Yes with this tune…then at times Lynyrd Skynyrd…yeh, I know.
The studio album is worth buying on its own if you enjoy that late ‘60s/early to mid ‘70s sound, but then you get the live disc thrown in too and this is really where you get a better picture of what Man is all about. The tunes are jams loosely structured around songs for the main part with two of the included five titles coming in at over nineteen minutes… and only one lasting less than 12 minutes! It’s music to either freak out and leap about to, or to sit back with your imbibement of choice in your favourite armchair and let the nostalgia wash over you. “I like Bananas because they’ve got no bones, I like marijuana because it gets me stoned” sort of sums it up! If you’re lucky enough you can still catch Man performing – if not you can pop along to Cherry Red and pick this double CD up for just shy of eleven English pounds which seems a pretty fair deal in my book.