Sunday, December 11, 2016

Man - 1969 - 2 Ozs of Plastic (with a Hole in the Middle)

2 Ozs of Plastic (with a Hole in the Middle)

01. Prelude / The Storm (12:24)
03. It Is as It Must Be (8:30)
04. Spunk Box (5:52)
05. My Name Is Jesus Smith (4:06)
06. Parchment and Candles (1:52)
07. Brother Arnold's Red and White Striped Tent (5:06)

- Micky Jones / guitars, vocals
- Deke Leonard / guitar, vocals, harp, percussion, piano
- Clive John / organ, piano, guitar, vocals
- Ray Williams / bass, vocals
- Jeff Jones / drums, percussion

Man's second album was released in 1969, the same year as their debut. In an effort to emphasise the serious nature of their music, Pye records moved Man to their new Dawn label. Ironically, the album title is a flippant description of the physical make up of an LP record.

Relying more and more on instrumental prowess, the opening "Prelude/The storm" is an ambitious scene setter with clear delusions of grandeur. Things continue to build towards a seemingly limitless crescendo before easing off to an altogether more relaxing, almost ambient phase. As we move into "It is as it must be" (originally to be titled "Shit on the world" till the record company took fright), we begin to uncover what would become the essence of the band. Here we have a heavy, bluesy guitar driven riff laden number with the first vocals of the album. Apart from that brief vocal excursion, the track is primarily an elongated jam featuring lead guitar and harmonica.

In another example of wonderful incompetence, the record company took exception to the title of the third track. It was therefore changed from "Spunk rock" to "Spunk box" (a record company employee misunderstood the instructions and changed the wrong word!), although the former title has prevailed over time. In view of the way this track has been extended and developed in the live arena, the version here may sound a little tame. It remains though one of Man's signature numbers.

"My name is Jesus Smith" is the most commercial track on the album, reverting to the Bystanders (from whom Man evolved) light pop rock style with pleasant harmonies. Midway through, the song bizarrely transforms into a hoe-down style country piece.

"Parchment and candles" was reputedly performed on a harpsichord belonging to producer/song writer Tony Hatch, who took exception to the band using it without his permission and threw an Elton John style tantrum. The piece itself is a brief reflective instrumental, quite unlike what we have come to expect from Man. The album closes with a Budgie like romp through "Brother Arnold's red and white striped tent". Not a particularly memorable track by any means, but fine all the same.

In all, an album which sees Man starting to find a clear direction, while still experimenting with a few disparate styles. An enjoyable excursion.

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