Man: Rare Man
This CD is a collection of previously unreleased or hard to obtain material from both phases of Man's history. Many bands are now releasing this kind of material on CD and the results can be mixed to say the least. That is not the case here, the material is incredible. How can some of these songs have been left off albums?
Nine out of ten.
Light hidden under a bushel for far too long.
My favourites are "Bananas", "Someone is Calling" and "Young, Free and Single". The former, despite the less than perfect quality of the recording is one of my favourite versions of this track. The other two are just great songs. But then so too are the others on this album.
Most of the songs here are shorter than is the mainstream perception of the band but, if you look through their other albums, you will see that they have almost always included short snappy songs amongst the longer pieces.
Three of the tracks are not the work of the Man band but they were recorded by established members of the band who were temporarily not members of the band. That said, they are good songs and in keeping with the rest of the material here.
If you already have a selection of Man albums from throughout the two phases of their existence then this will be a great addition to your collection. However, if you only have one or two albums, I'd suggest that you buy some more of the band's main releases first and then come back here. About the only real complaint that I can level here is that most, or perhaps all of these tracks are associated with mainstream Man albums and I'd have liked it if the band could have put them out as bonus tracks when the mainstream back catalogue came out on CD.
A detailed look:
The album starts off with a live version of Bananas from 1973. This was previously available only as a double sided single and judging by the surface noise and the audible join in the middle, the version here has been taken from a vinyl 45. That's a shame as this is a particularly fine example of the song.
Next up are two studio tracks also from 1973. "I'm Dreaming" and "The Cymbal That Came to Dinner" both sound like to work of Man from their earlier days. It would be interesting to know if these had actually been written at an earlier time.
The next four songs are described in the notes as "allegedly outtakes from ... Slow Motion ..." and from the sound, they would fit on that album. It's a little sad that they were not included as bonus tracks on "Slow Motion when" it was released on CD.
"A Name and A Number" is a slower, melodic song with great vocals and guitar parts that could only come from a Man album
"Someone is Calling" appears twice here. The second one was available on cassette but the first, which has never been heard on official CD before is much stronger.
"TV Dinners" and "Breaking up Once Again" are another pair of terrific songs. Had they been on the Slow Motion album, where they belong, we could have been enjoying them for a long longer!
Deke's "(I'm a) Love Taker" and the second version of "Someone is Calling" were both available on other formats but it appears that this is their first CD outing.
The remaining ten tracks are from the eighties.
The first six of these were recorded in 1984 and the next two might have been.
"Jumpin' Like a Kangaroo" is just a version of the same song on "The Twang Dynasty" and the version here adds nothing to the finished piece on that album.
The remaining songs here will be new to pretty well any fan unless they have a copy of an obscure German only single. Given that one of these songs appeares in two versions, that means that we have six entirely new Man songs from the eighties here.
"Perfect Strangers" sounds like the sort of song that Deke would write if he had just spent a week listening to Ducks Deluxe records. So, the style is a little away from the normal Man number but it's still a fun song.
The next song, "Asylum" is back to the normal Man style and the lyrics are full of the surreal angst that the band produces at times. This is a great song. Play it loud! Best drumming on the whole CD!
"Last Birthday Party" appears twice here. I'm not really sure why. They may be different but the two versions do not seem sufficiently distinct to make this worth while. It's a decent enough song but not as good as some of the others.
If "Perfect Stranges" sounded a little like Ducks Deluxe, "What a Night" sounds like a cross between "The Move" and "The Sweet" oh I can just imagine the band up on stage in silly trousers doing Top of The Pops had they brought this out in the seventies!
"Young Free and Single" is a great song. Had it been released on a single in the mid seventies it would surely have made an impact on the charts. But this version was probably recorded ten years too late for that. I suppose it's a song for those who were there in the seventies but who now find themselves in another place.
"That's the Way" is the last Man song on the CD. It is similar in style to the previous track and like many of the eighties section on here it sounds more commercial than much of the mainstream Man material.
The last two tracks are solo works by Martin Ace. "Sad Party" and "Eating" are OK but not special. Having said that, they are still better than most of the stuff that makes it onto other bands outtakes releases.