Tag Archives: Deke Leonard

July 11th 1975

“Sold Kev B. Man LP for a quid”

I didn’t really care for this self-titled Man LP. A little too rambling, even for me. As I recall one of the sides was little more than a  20 or 25 minute freeform jam of some description.

(Pauses to research album online….)

Yes, the track was called “The Alchemist” and took up the whole of Side 2. Here’s 10 minutes of it via a somewhat pointless You Tube video, for you to judge for yourself. (Warning: It does take over 4 minutes to “get going”)

The only two tracks it really had going for it were “Romain” – which became a live Man favourite – and Deke Leonard’s drum-driven “Daughter of the Fireplace” non-clunker chunker.

Still, a quid for a duffer wasn’t too bad was it?

Well, apart from the fact that it now goes for £40 to collectors. *sigh*

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(1974 Album) Deke Leonard – Kamikaze

Kamikaze is another album sleeve that deserves to be seen in all its glory..

I waxed lyrically about “Iceberg”, Deke’s debut album, back in August.

Whilst “Iceberg” is undoubtedly one of my all-time favourites, Kamikaze falls a little short of a similar high-falutin’ status. However, that’s not to say it isn’t without its standout cuts…

Cool Summer Rain is an instrumental introduction which segues into Jayhawk Special, an infectious piece of no-nonsense boogie featuring Deke’s signature guitar work

Broken Glass and Lime Juice is, quite simply, a lovely little layered song about the loss of childhood innocence. Deke takes the “Cool Summer Rain” riff he intro’d the album with and expands on it, turning it into something very special indeed.

Best cut on the album though is the sumblimely wonderful In Search Of Sarah and Twenty Six Horses

Watching that live performance of it – which must be relatively recent – I am reminded that none of us are getting any younger and whilst Deke still has ‘guitar chops’, it would seem his voice – bless him – is completely shot to shit?

I’m probably being a bit unfair on “Kamikaze” here. I think it just fell foul of the fact that I LOVED “Iceberg” so much – and played it so much – that any follow-up was almost destined to be a comparative disappointment.

When both albums turned up on CD in the early 90’s, the label responsible – the excellent Beat Goes On – packaged them both onto one disc, which was, in my humble opinion, a masterstroke. I always get nostalgic for my youth when a cut from the set shuffles up on my iPod.

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December 28th 1973

“Bort Deke Leonard’s Iceberg in Southampton – FANTASTIC!”

I said I was going to buy Deke Leonard’s meisterwerk back on October 18th, so I certainly took my bloody time about it!

I hope certainly Deke remembers to pick up his guitar before sadly flying into relative rock obscurity?!

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October 22nd 1973

“Man/Iceberg – TOP RANK

FANTASTIC!”

I have already seen Man this year, back on July 3rd.

However, this time the support act was none other than ex-Man front…erm..man Deke Leonard with his Iceberg.

Given that I had probably played “Iceberg” to death in the previous week or so, (see previous diary entry) what’s the betting that my “FANTASTIC!” review related more to Deke Leonard’s support slot than Man’s headlining performance?!!

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October 16th/18th/19th 1973

• “Borrowed Iceberg off Trev – absolutely brilliant”
• “Gonna get Iceberg”
• “Gave Iceberg back”

I know what you’re thinking … “that’s a BIG picture of the album cover…. he must REALLY like this one?!”

… and you’d be 100% correct

In fact, I’d go so far as to state that Deke Leonard’s “Iceberg” is one of rock music’s undiscovered classics.

It really was one of those albums that I could NOT stop playing after I first heard it. I probably gave Trev his copy back for fear of wearing it out, such was my enthusiasm for it.

Deke Leonard’s musical career commenced in the 60’s, his early years spent in such bands as the Corncrackers,and the Dream. In 1968 he joined The Bystanders and enjoyed hit singles with 98.6 and When Jesamine Goes.

When the hits dried up, The Bystanders’ record label changed the group’s name to Man and moved them into the ‘rock’ – rather than ‘pop’ – category, allowing them to now write their own songs.

The band released two albums for Pye Records; “Revelation” and “2 ozs of Plastic with a Hole in the Middle” before signing with United Artists and issuing a series of critically-acclaimed, much loved, but (sadly) underperforming albums, some of which have already been mentioned in this blog’s portals. (Here, here, here and here)

Deke left the band before the release of Man’s second album for UA, immediately signing a solo deal for the same label. He then come up with “Iceberg”

I think what differentiates Deke’s solo work from that he performed (before and after) with Man is his reserved nature about guitar solos. Where Man was all about long-winded jam sessions that merely (often) rambled, Deke’s guitar work on his own was short, staccato and often impressively stunning.

Researching links for this post yielded little by way of links to videos or full songs (other than illegal torrents) so its tough for me to review the album song by song… however, here’s a handful of highlights…

Deke Leonard - Then and Now

The album kicks off with “Razorblade & Rattlesnakes, a true taste of what’s to come with the rest of the cuts. I think Deke has a pretty unique voice, but others have disagreed with me over the years.

I Just Can’t Win” carries the lyric “Papa don’t like my music, he says it sounds like playing a bass. But I don’t care cos I like it that way and I do it just to see his face, its a grooooovy face…” which has never failed to amuse.

Lisa” is an acoustic ballad accompanied by some phased violin and studied drumwork. Like “Looking for a Man”  that comes a little later on Side 1, it seems to feature “just the right amount” of clever guitar work. Nothing too flashy, but just enough so you’re in no doubt about Deke’s fret skills.

Nothing is Happening” starts off in the same acoustic vein as “Lisa” but kicks up a gear at the 1’30” mark to allow Deke to show off with a short – but classy – solo.

I believe “Hard Way to Live” was a previous Man stage favourite which Deke added to his solo canon. (Please note that the linked live Man version is VASTLY inferior to Deke’s own studio cut)

Broken Ovation” has always felt the most “Man”-like cut on the album. It rambles like they were prone to do, but whereas Man may have extended it to a tiring 12-15 minute jam, Deke wraps it all up nicely in under five, contributing some beautifully subtle guitar work.

If I have a cut that I have grown tired of since 1973, “Jesse” is it. Personally, I have always felt it to be a little ‘out of place’ amongst much stronger (IMHO) songs. That’s not to say it’s bad – it’s not – more that it has not stood the test of time as well.

The album’s closer “7171 551” became a Man favourite when Deke rejoined the band, but – again – I have never heard – or seen – a live rendition that comes across as powerfully as his original studio recording.

For some apparent reason, I seem to remember that in ensuing years Deke suffered some kind of illness or injury which made him forget how to play the guitar, write music or sing songs. Furthermore, I’m sure I read how he had to teach himself everything again from scratch. The problem is, no matter how much I investigate this online, I can find absolutely no mention of it whatsoever. So either I dreamt it, I’m getting Deke mixed up with someone else or there’s a vast Welsh online conspiracy going on somewhere?!

Every time I write about Deke – or Man (featuring Deke) – I am reminded that he has two apparently fabulous rock biographies to his name; “Rhinos, Winos & Lunatics” covers his time on the road with Man during the 60’s and 70’s, whilst “Maybe I Should Have Stayed in Bed?” chronicles his early (pre-Man) years and is subtitled “The Flip Side of the Rock’n’Roll Dream”. Both are on my Amazon wish-list but sadly both are currently out-of-print. One day I’ll get to read them!

I implore any true rock fan to snag a copy of “Iceberg” if they happen across it somewhere. Maybe you’ll be lucky like me and have an album you can appreciate for life?!

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October 8th 1973

“Gra came up in the evening and brought Back into the Future – Smart!”

Man’s “Back Into the Future” was a 1973 double album by the Welsh ‘jam rock’ band which suffers the same problem 90% or more of all double albums suffer from… “a tad too much filler”

Don’t get me wrong I love – most of – this album, and it’s a regular visitor to both my iPod and my in-car stereo… however, there are tracks that really should have been well and truly aborted during the process of making it. (Which, given new technology, I do!)

Maybe the band were trying just a little too hard following the departure of lead guitarist Deke Leonard? (Deke left to form his own AWESOME band, Iceberg… more on them later I’m sure)

Whatever the reason, the album features some impressive highs (“A Night in Dad’s Bag“, the title track and a stunning live rendition of “C’Mon” for instance) and some terrible lows (“Sospan Fach” recorded with a bloody Welsh male Voice choir for cliff’s sake) which all add up to a less than entirely satisfactory package.

Also less than impressive (now anyway… back then I may have thought differently) is the rambling 20+ minute finale of “Jam Up Jelly Tight/Oh No Not Again“, now more often referred to as Spunk Rock ’73. It’s cuts like this one that gave the band their reputation as the “Welsh Grateful Dead” or the “Welsh Quicksilver Messenger Service”, two West Coast American bands whose output I have never really cared for.

Like most double albums it could so easily have been a FANTASTIC single album.

Oh well…

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An Aside – My “History of Music” Project: Part I

This is the back cover. I hope everyone can read it OK?

Please note that in amongst the plethora of big name acts (Presely, The Beatles, Dylan, Zeppelin etc) I have included such other musical giants such as Man, Deke Leonard, and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. What?

“Rock” was the main ‘fireball’ it would seem – apt I guess given Deep Purple’s dominance at the time – but please note that “Ballad”, “Motown”, “Soul” and “the Classics” have also been deemed worthy of inclusion for the years beyond 1973.

I REALLY hope I knew how to spell “future” and my attempt was merely covered by tape?

“Everything” is apparently included, from “Frank Sinatra and the Inkspots” to… erm… “Gary Glitter and Focus”. Dear oh dear, oh dear.

Nice to realise that the cover, sleeve notes and artwork were ALL by l’il ol’ me. Nothing like some self-delusional ego-promotion at the age of 15 is there?

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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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