Monday, February 18, 2013

Man - 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (1969 uk, hard driven guitar jam rock, 2009 Esoteric remaster)

2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle was set for a mere six months after the release of Revelation. Consequently, Man spent the summer of 1969 ensconced in their communal terrace house in Streatham writing, rehearsing and ingesting artificial stimulants. Once again recorded at Marble Arch Studios, this time in the main studio that was usually reserved for orchestras, although the desire to raid the sound effects cupboard had at least worn off. Regarded by many to be one of the best, if not the best, Man albums, the six months of writing and rehearsals had really allowed the band to forge their own sound. 

With no manager, agent or gigs, the band were free to concentrate on the music. Their progression was evident from the start with the 12.5 minute Prelude - The Storm, a Jones instrumental that features Leonard making seagull sounds with his guitar and generally setting out the stall for what was to come, both throughout the rest of the album and forthcoming releases. The intensity is ramped up on It Is As It Must Be with the dual lead guitars getting a real work out on this rocker, which originally went under the title Shit On The World, something that Pye objected to. They also were not too eager on the title of the next track which the band had called Spunk Rock. 

Whereas Shit On The World had been replaced by It Is As It Must Be (after a wry comment by composer John), Spunk Rock somehow got transformed to Spunk Box, obviously someone at the label got confused at which the offending word was! The track is synonymous with Man, their iconic song that in concert would be stretched to four or five times the length of the studio version. The album version has all the elements crammed into six minutes and is the ultimate Man song, even if the vocals are a bit ropey!

My Name Is Jesus Smith, which no doubt if released as a new song these days would get a lot of fundamentalist Christians hot under the collar, is the tale of a man who takes over Heaven and has the pearly gates melted down and sold for scrap. Featuring slide guitar throughout it is quite a jolly number, if a little simplistic, although more characteristic of the Man sound than the very Baroque Parchment And Candles with its harpsichord backing. 

The original album ended with Brother Arnold's Red And White Striped Tent which is another bona fide classic Man song, although not generally performed live in its original form, long-term Man aficionados will recognise elements that were often incorporated into on-stage jams. Three great previously unheard bonus tracks have been exhumed from the vaults: an instrumental and slightly longer version of Jesus Smith which I think is far better than the album version; A Sad Song [Grasshopper] which is obviously a song in progress and taped in rehearsal; and Walkin' The Dogma the demo of Spunk Box (or Rock!).
by Mark Hughes
1. Prelude The Storm (Micky Jones, Deke Leonard) - 12:18
2. It Is As It Must Be (Clive John, Ray Williams) - 8:27
3. Spunk Box (John, Micky Jones) - 5:45
4. My Name Is Jesus Smith (Micky Jones, Leonard) - 4:03
5. Parchment And Candles (Leonard) - 1:51
6. Brother Arnold's Red And White Striped Tent (Micky Jones, Leonard) - 5:04 7. My Name Is Jesus Smith (Alternative Version) (Micky Jones, Leonard) - 5:13 8. A Sad Song (Grasshopper) (Man) - 5:16 9. Walkin' The Dogma (Spunk Box Demo) (Clive John, Micky Jones) - 6:06
Man *Clive John - Organ, Piano, Guitar, Vocals *Jeff Jones - Drums, Percussion *Micky Jones - Lead Guitar, Vocals *Deke Leonard - Guitar, Harp, Piano, Percussion, Vocals *Ray Taff Williams - Bass

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  1. MAN 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (Rare 1969 UK first press 6-track stereo LP on an orange Dawn label, featuring a fabulous blend of psychedelia and acid rock produced and supervised by John Schroeder.

    Man were/are the psychedelic, prog/country-blues rock/jam band from south Wales. They were famed for going off on extended jams, a side of them that made every live gig a unique experience. They emerged in 1969 with the debut album Revelation with its theme of evolution. The cover featuring nude shots of the band and the track “Erotica” with its “Je T’aime” orgasm certainly got people talking.

    Their second album came out six months later in September of that year Originally released on Pye Records' progressive label, Dawn, the album was the band's second work. A fabulous blend of psychedelia and acid rock, the classic set featured such classics as ‘Spunk Rock' (mistakenly titled ‘Spunk Box' by Pye Records), ‘It Is As It Must Be' and ‘The Storm'.

    In his inimitable way he tells us of the band’s first meeting with Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin’s larger than life manager, and of how the album was written in a gloomy basement flat in South London. He fills us in with why “Spunk Rock” bizarrely became “Spunk Box” leaving you celebrating the sensors priceless screw up.

    He then explains how the magnificently titled “Shit On The World” became “It Is As It Must Be”. He reveals how the Carry On film comedian Sid James witnessed a Man recording session and what he said of the experience.

    Amid the chaos of this twilight existence, they created something pretty damned special. 2 Ozs. Of Plastic (With A Hole In The Middle) is widely considered their finest work, even though Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics pushed hard. Deke confirms this when he writes in the notes, “if you don’t like this Man album, then you’ll never like a Man album”.

    The cast list was forever rotating as the band morphed through its various apparitions. Deke came and went, and came back, and went again. The amazing and equally entertaining Martin Ace would later arrive. For this album though the line up was Deke on guitar, vocals, harp, and piano; Micky Jones on guitar and vocals; Clive John on keys, guitar, and vocals; the late Ray Williams on bass; and Jeff Jones on drums.

    The album opens with the two piece “Prelude” which includes “The Storm” before the oddly re-named “It Is As It Must Be” gives us that first Man jam. “Spunk Box” carries that on. Anyone who has experienced seeing this band during any of the last four decades will be able to testify as to why both this and its predecessor are still demanded at any Man gig today.

    The excellent “My Name Is Jesus Smith” evolves nicely into country rock territory. Meanwhile, the instrumental “Parchment And Candles” has all the atmosphere of a sixties film soundtrack. The original album ends with “Brother Arnold’s Red And White Striped Tent” another huge sprawling psychedelic acid soaked rock jam, Man style.

    Has now been re-released by Esoteric Recordings with three bonus tracks just add to any Manband fan’s need to buy this re-release which is available through the Esoteric Recordings label. The alternative take of “My Name Is Jesus Smith”, leads into the instrumental and presumably long lost version of “A Sad Song (Grasshopper)”. It’s all rounded off with that early demo of “Spunk Rock/Box/Walkin’ The Dogma”.

    Thx Marios!

  2. Hi Marios,
    Any chance of a re-up please? Part 2 appears to have gone missing..! Many Thanks.

    1. BAxi55, "Man - 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle", reUp..