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Whereas Shit On The World had been replaced by It Is As It Must Be (after a wry comment by composer John), Spunk Rock somehow got transformed to Spunk Box, obviously someone at the label got confused at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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Gigymen - Gigymen (1974 uk, marvelous folk rock with some traditional adaptations, 2012 issue)

Originally released as an obscure private pressing of just 100 copies, Gigymen’s only record has been a hen’s tooth since it was recorded in 1974. Guersson changed all that earlier in the year with a short-run vinyl release – and here’s the welcome and significantly cheaper follow-up.

Opener As I Roved Out is a confident and competent slab of folk-rock that does what all good folk-rock should: amplifies the power and emotion inherent in its traditional roots. There are two more trad rock-outs (the Irish Rocky Road To Dublin; and Scottish Gypsy Laddie), with the accomplished arrangements and quality of the musicianship across both being superb.

Elsewhere, Plain Jane is Gigymen as the former Quarrymen – and, indeed the Fab Four are the driving force behind many of the other tracks on the record, though the unnerving Crumbledown might well be without precedent. Packed with photos and info on the talented bunch who made this wonderful oddity, this is a welcome addition to the private pressings file.  
by Jan Zarebski
1. As I Roved Out (Traditional) - 4:32
2. Gone Are The Days (Alan Harvey, John Porter) - 3:35
3. Plain Jane (John Porter) - 3:21
4. Gypsy Laddie (Traditional) - 6:08
5. Rocky Road To Dublin (Traditional) - 5:04
6. Brother Herbert (John Porter) - 2:38
7. Crumbledown (John Porter) - 4:27
8. Don't Let Her Go (John Porter) - 3:19

*John Porter - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
*Alan Harvey - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin
*Andy Thurston - Violin
*Paul Marsh - Bass
*Alex Cooper - Vocals, Drums

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