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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