Live At The Padget Rooms Penarth
01. Spunk Rock (previously unreleased) - 24:49
02. Many Are Called, But Few Get Up - 10:42
04. H. Samuel (Jam) - 19:27
05. Romain (previously unreleased) - 20:36
06. Daughter Of The Fireplace - 7:57
Michael "Micky" Jones - guitars, vocals
Roger "Deke" Leonard - guitars, vocals
Martin Ace - bass, vocals
Terrence "Terry" Williams - drums
Limited release of 8000
'Live At The Padget Rooms Penarth' is an excellent documentation of the band's live qualities. MAN's most solid line-up ever is on the stage in April 1972 consisting of Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Martin Ace and Terry Williams. Clive John, formerely caring for organ and piano, has a break here.They are offering some extraordinary live versions of early band hits. The Esoteric Recordings double CD reissue rounds this up to an album which is really recommended to prog fans who want to explore the rich legacy of this Welsh band.
And important to point out - the complete evening seems to be presented in the right song order now. Never could mention Deke Leonard's guitar playing more varied alternating between space and rock n' roll! He is known for prefering the bluesy, boogie and american westcoach style but at least partially this is an old hat for this evening when listening to this gig.
MAN's performances are dedicated to free improvisations - they never played a song in the same way twice. And this especially applies to their wildest and most innovative times - the first half of the 1970s. So we have a long warm-up initiated by some announcements and jokes. It takes nearly seven spacey minutes until the main theme of Spunk Rock is to recognize for the first time. A very powerful version of this song furthermore which is concipated as a straightforward uptempo rock jam based on duelling as well as corresponding guitars and a rather simple repetitive bass.
The highlight is the band's perfect interplay - hard-earned due to playing uncounted gigs. Although stylistically coming from different fields Jones and Leonard complement each other - it's an enjoyment to follow their guitars interacting, swirling around, evolving contrary, finding together again - always alternating between rhythm and solo work. This is the band's trademark. If you have the chance to compare with the predecessor release you will recognize the improved sound quality. Martin Ace's deep bass is less dull - much more accentuated - great work by the sound engineers.
And it's always a special manifestation for me to follow Terry Williams' driving drum playing - a solid part of the band's uniqueness which unfortunately never could be brought back regarding the reunions in the 80s and 90s. So they are in a good mood after 25 minutes(!) when going over to Many Are Called, But Few Get Up - probably the best MAN composition ever and released in studio version only a few months before. This song has a quite complex skeleton far away from plain jamming - I would even say this is rather eclectic with its tension-filled behaviour holding polyphonic vocals, catchy moments, weird impressions ... this is really hard to describe.
Angel Easy is presented close to the original studio version also coming from the previous album 'Do You Like It Here Now'. Well, the piano is substituted by the second guitar here - but nevertheless a little bit more playful as for my impression. Second CD of the Esoteric reissue starts with H. Samual (Jam) - another twenty minute improv consisting of excerpts from the 1970 'Man' album. I would say this gets close to krautrock - the band eventually was on the road in Germany very often. The most experimental thing on this evening with lights and darks - a weird combination of different patches including 'Would The Christians Wait Five Minutes' and 'Alchemist'.
They continue with Romain which does not belong to my favourites because more presented with a straightforward rock n' roll fundament. It's a long runner though and given on nearly every concert by the band. Jones and Leonard are hunting each other during the last uptempo spacey minutes before the sirens appear. This is really impressing but as for the full length it may only work when you're at the venue. The encore Daughter Of The Fireplace - another one from the self-titled 'Man' album - closes the set and appears more sophisticated as the forerunner provided with a fulminant point of culmination.
So my conclusion: a big plus for the improved sound quality - CD 1 is very enjoyable where the second one decreases a bit. A recommended MAN album though - 3.5 stars. Not much later the line-up will change once more and prepare for the next studio highlight 'Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day'.