December 16th 1972

“Went down Trevs + borrowed D.Purple, Man, Groundhogs, The Nice”

I have not mentioned which specific albums I borrowed from Trev, but I have more than an inkling it was the following …erm… ‘gems’….

Deep Purple – The Book of Taliesyn
If I even recorded this album, I doubt very much I kept it. No Ian Gillan on vocals (predecessor Rod Evans) and dull plodding tracks which included a Neil Diamond cover (“Kentucky Woman“), a Beatles cover (“We Can Work it Out“) and the horror that is Purple’s version of Phil Spector’s “River Deep Mountain High

I don’t know if this was considered a concept album or not, but if it was I suspect the concept may have been “poop”?!

The Nice – Five Bridges
The Nice (Brian Davidson, “Python” Lee Jackson and Keith Emerson… for those not in the know) were actually commissioned to write this suite of music by the City of Newcastle for their 1969 Arts Festival.

The title refers to the (then) number of bridges which spanned Newcastle’s River Tyne, the cover of the album featuring a fish-eye image of the famous Tyne Bridge.

This was Keith Emerson’s first foray into “classically orientated” songwriting and…. well, it kind of shows. The structure is somewhat naive and rudimentary, although I am sure at the time it not only impressed Newcastle but several hundred thousand prog rock fans as well.

Not me though. It’s fair to state that this album has not stuck with me over the intervening 36 years.

Groundhogs – Split
This is more like it!

The Groundhogs really were one of the inventors of what became heavy psychedelic rock.

They formed in the 1960’s, essentially as a blues band, even acting as John Lee Hooker’s backing troupe when he toured Britain.

A LOUD three-piece (Peter Cruickshank on bass, Ken Pustelnik on drums plus the magnificent Tony “T.S.” McPhee on guitar and vocals), the Groundhogs seminal work is perhaps “Split“.

Raw and real, the album (apparently a concept album based on ‘the mystery of schizophrenia’ – really?) oozes thumpy drums and classic guitar riffs. It’s grunge about 20 years before grunge ever occurred in my opinion, best epitomised by the classic cut “Cherry Red“, which veritably thunders along aided by licks to absolutely die for.

One to turn up to eleven! 

Man – Do You Like it Here Now, Are You Settling In?
These days I often remark that the only good thing to come out of Wales is the M4 motorway.

This is based on my personal experiences of the country (and many of its people) during my “Virgin” years, of which there will be further discussion later… but not, I hasten to add, until my 1978/79 diaries roll around.

But I digress. Whilst Wales is perhaps better known for musical acts such as Shirley Bassey (better known by myself as Burly Chassis) or the MIGHTY Sir Tom Jones (no-one is worthier), there’s also been an underbelly of other quality acts* and artists.

Man are one of those quality acts. Born out of the burgeoning South Wales music scene in the 60’s, and with remnant band members from (out and out pop group) The Bystanders, along with Dream, Help Yourself and the Global Village Trucking Company (pub rock acts all) Man formed in 1968 to create a worthy footnote to the history of UK progressive rock.

They took the sound of American west coast psychedelia (‘borrowing’ most evidently from Quicksilver Messenger Service) and turned it around a little for European ears and consumption. The group’s live acts were “stoner” affairs, featuring songs that were often experimented with or endlessly extended into head-tripping jams of musical prowess. (An example here)

Do You Like it Here Now, Are You Settling In?” was the Man’s fourth (fully blown) studio album, and my second introduction to their work in 1972. (The first being their contribution to the “Greasy Truckers Album” mentioned in a previous EFA70sTRO post.)

It’s a personal opinion of course, but I feel there are classic “Man cuts” to be found on this album. The laid back groove of “Angel Easy” with its nine-note guitar break,  “All Good Clean Fun” featuring gimmicky backward lyrics, the sublime “Manillo” and, for me the best, “Many Are Called, But Few Get Up“.

That last cut randomly appeared just a few days ago on my i-Pod during my morning constitutional and I could not have been happier to hear it again. (My i-Pod must have known I was going to write about Man?!)

Man continue to record and tour, albeit with a rapidly changing line-up of musicians. Members are fired later to return, others have had to drop out as a result of illness, whilst some continue to tour despite their illness.

Apparently, the most comprehensive history of Man can be found in band member Deke Leonard’s autobiography “Rhinos Winos & Lunatics“, a book which one day I have vowed ro read! (I no longer buy books, instead preferring to get them from our local library here in Northern Kentucky, which is a magnificent resource… but one which, sadly, does not extend to autobiographies of second-tier Welsh Rock band members)

Unfortunately for you out there in readersville, this will doubtless NOT be the last mention of Man as my diaries continue to be unveiled. I admit they are something of an acquired taste and had I not grown up with them as I did, I too may be giving me the evil eye! Sorry folks, I can’t always give you Benny Hill and West Side Story!

(*Manic Street Preachers and The Stereophonics excluded)

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