This latest addition to the Esoteric Recordings’ Man reissues is this Deluxe 3CD Edition of their 1977 album, All’s Well That Ends Well, recorded at what was a regular haunt for the band, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London. For these three performances the line-up was Micky Jones (Guitar & Vocals), Deke Leonard (Guitar & Vocals), Phil Ryan (Keyboards & Vocals), John McKenzie (Bass) and Terry Williams (Drums). Man played to three packed houses at The Roundhouse between the 10-12 December 1976, the first two evenings being recorded and forming the material for the original album and also Esoteric’s extended re-issue.
Due to the limitations of the original vinyl format and the somewhat extended nature of Man’s performances the original album contained only seven tracks. This new deluxe version captures all of the songs played across the three evenings.
Now if there’s one thing that this reissue reaffirms is what a great live band Man were. On a personal note I must have seen Man half a dozen times between 1973 and 1976 and they never failed to impress. These Roundhouse concerts are possibly not their finest performances, but there again I doubt there will ever be any agreement on which live album best captures the band. A personal favourite is Maximum Darkness (1975), also recorded at The Roundhouse, but that may well just be just down to track selection. However this Esoteric extended version from the band’s final, (well almost), concerts puts many a fan favourite on one live release. Although there is bound to be some duplication of tracks, Esoteric, wherever possible, have used different versions of the tracks from those that appear on disc one. So Let The Good Times Roll, Spunk Rock and Romain are taken from the Saturday evening’s performance. A nice touch and shows an attention to detail.
The Man songs featured in these recordings cover a broad spectrum of material going back as far as their wonderfully titled second album 2ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (1969) with the inclusion of fan favourite Spunk Rock – albeit called Spunk Box on the original album. As to be expected much of the material on All’s Well That Ends Well is taken form releases around period and The Welsh Connection (1976) and Slow Motion (1974) feature heavily. Perhaps not surprisingly that much of The Welsh Connection is featured as not only was it released earlier that year, but also retained the same line-up for the final gigs. Disappointingly though, nothing from the excellent Rhinos Winos And Lunatics, from 1974.
But this is more than compensated by other firm favourites include Romain, Many Are Called, But Few Get Up and of course Bananas…
The extended version of the album contains three non Man tracks, the show opener Let The Good Times Roll, Deke Leonard’s stomping 7171 551 taken from the Iceberg album (1973) and Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You. Although apparently the same song as that recorded by Joan Baez and Led Zeppelin, (amongst others), Man’s version bears little, if any, resemblance both musically or lyrically. There is however a greater affinity to Erik Darling’s St John’s River and Quicksilver Messenger Service’s version, which appeared first on the Maximum Darkness album featuring QMS’ John Cipollina, who had performed with the band during 1975.
Man released some great material drawing from a large cauldron of musical influences including the West Coast psychedelic rock, Southern boogie rock, Progressive rock, Space rock, blues and I’m sure there are many more. One of the early Jam Band pioneers who, because of touring commitments in Germany and Belgium during the early 70s, found the need to stretch out their songs to accommodate the longer sets required for those clubs. To their credit Man managed this admirably and their twin guitar sound along with Phil Ryan’s keyboards here, meant that a sense of melodic structure was never far away. The other bonus for Man was that they always managed to secure a driving rhythm section and the fairly constant force of Terry Williams and newcomer John McKenzie were no exception.
As mentioned earlier the magic of Man’s music excelled in the live environment which probably explains why they released more live albums than studio releases during this period. Esoteric Recordings’ bringing together of the final days of Man’s first incarnation is a fitting tribute to the band. The box-set comes complete with extensive notes and pictures in an eight page booklet and a Man Family Tree poster.
Disc One – The Original album (Remastered)
01. Let The Good Times Roll (3:03)
02. The Welsh Connection (8:01)
03. The Ride And The View (6:04)
04. Hard Way To Live (3:08)
05. Born With A Future (7:45)
06. Spunk Rock (8:37)
07. Romain (5:03)
Disc Two – The Roundhouse 1976
01. Let The Good Times Roll* (2:47)
02. 7171 551 (5:18)
03. The Welsh Connection (8:14)
04. Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You (5:02)
05. The Ride And The View (6:16)
06. C’Mon (16:25)
Disc Three – The Roundhouse 1976
01. Born With A Future (7:25)
02. Many Are Called, But Few Get Up (10:32)
03. A Hard Way To Live (3:29)
04. Bananas* (11:55)
05. Spunk Rock* (7:41)
06. Romain* (5:17)
Total Time 132:02
Micky Jones – Guitar & Vocals
Deke Leonard – Guitar & Vocals
Phil Ryan – Keyboards & Vocals
John McKenzie – Bass
Terry Williams – Drums
Record Label: Esoteric Recordings
Catalogue#: ECLEC 32431
Year Of Release: 2014
Original Release: (1977)
Main Website: Manband