Thursday, 9 July 2015

"Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day" by MAN (2007 and 2014 Esoteric Recordings EXPANDED CD REISSUE Of Their 1972 LP on United Artists) - A Review by Mark Barry...




"...Map Of Wales..."

With its elaborate laminate gatefold sleeve and gorgeously illustrated pop-up "Map Of Wales" inner (which is reproduced both sides as a separate sheet and housed in a pouch on the left flap of this CD digipak) - Man’s sixth studio album "Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day" on United Artists used to be a stalwart of secondhand record shops – along with other faves like 1974's "Rhinos, Winos + Lunatics" and "Slow Motion". It remains a fan favourite and a good entry point into the more stoner rock elements of this fondly remembered Welsh Prog Rock band...

Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red) have afforded the 1972 record a lavish CD reissue that comes resplendent with two instrumental extras (there’s also a digital download version available). And in truth - having not listened to my vinyl copy in many decades – I’d forgotten how good this 4-track beast actually is. Here are the self-flagellating details...

UK released November 2007 (reissued June 2014) – Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2019 (Barcode 5013929711921) pans out as follows (65:23 minutes):

1. C'mon (11:05 minutes)
2. Keep On Crinting  (8:18 minutes)
3. Bananas (9:28 minutes) [Side 2]
4. Life On The Road (7:18 minutes)
Tracks 1 to 4 are the studio album "Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day" by MAN – released November 1972 in the UK on United Artists UAG 29417 and in the USA on United Artists UA-LA077-F.

BONUS TRACKS:
5. Bananas (Early Instrumental Version) (7:05 minutes)
6. Rockfield Jam (3:14 minutes)

MAN was:
Guitars & Vocals - MICKY JONES
Guitars & Vocals – CLIVE JOHN
Keyboards & Vocals – PHIL RYAN
Bass & Vocals – WILL YOUATT
Drums and Percussion – TERRY WILLIAMS

The three-way foldout digipak holds a 16-page booklet in the right flap and the repro'd "Map Of Wales - Man's Family Jungle" pop-up in the left. There are breakdowns of everyone’s backgrounds and which bands they all came from or migrated into (their revolving door line-up touched upon a huge number of British bands like The Grease Band, Pete Brown’s Piblokto, Badfinger, Gentle Giant and Eyes Of Blue – to name but a few). The booklet has new and witty liner notes by long-standing band member DEKE LEONARD explained how the group kicked him out as Lead Guitarist for this album and brought on board MICKY JONES instead. The text and reminiscences are peppered by memorabilia – a 'aveMANana' button, a Sundown stage pass from September 1972, an October 1972 ticket stub, January to February UK tour dates advertised in one of the trade newspapers of the time, on stage and in the studio photos and other items of 1972/1973 note. It’s very tastefully done.

But the big news is a new remaster from original tapes by PASCHAL BYRNE – a name associated with a whole slew of much-praised Prog Rock CD reissues – the Polydor, Decca, Deram, Island and Vertigo 3CD Mini Box Sets on Universal (I've reviewed all of them – see my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1960s and 1970s Volume 1" Book for full and detailed reviews). BEN WISEMAN and head honcho at Esoteric MARK POWELL remastered the bonus cuts – again from 8-track master tapes. The audio is fantastic – really bringing out the duelling guitars – the bass is warm too – but I’d say that the Terry Williams drums lack a certain something. They’re way back in the mix and I don’t know if that’s just the way they were recorded in July of 1972 at Rockfield Studios (produced by Dave Edmunds) or something that can’t be made better in the transfer. For instance on "Bananas" at about 2:40 when the song goes into that beautiful keyboard solo – not surprisingly the keyboard pings are to the fore as are the chiming guitars left and right – but you’re also aware that the rhythm seems to be in the background distance – just a little too much.

The album opens with "C'mon" – a sort of boogie riff that builds and builds – lyrics first "get up!" – guitar battles – then about three minutes in – it suddenly slows like a Yes magnum opus would and goes into this slow marching pace bluesy/trippy passage where the Phil Ryan keyboards suddenly add this whole extra Prog Rock dimension to the song – and it doesn’t quit for the whole eleven-minute duration. It's actually a magnificent passage of music – very 1970s – but also very good. Finishing Side of the original vinyl LP - "Keep On Crinting" is an instrumental that lasts a paltry seven minutes  - but is still a huge part of the MAN set playlist to this day. It’s probably one of their most musical Prog pieces – the guitars counter-melody off each other – and this time at least you can hear the drums. Side 2 gives us a perennial that no MAN concert can be without – "Bananas". Again the guitars do battle and are very much to the fore in the mix – the drums once again pushed back when you wish they had more oomph. The Ten Years After chugging-boogie of "Life On The Road" ends the record in style ("...ain't got no money...living in a caravan..."). Thankfully the guitars and rhythm are in-your-face this time (in a good way) – in fact it feels like The Allman Brothers have sent up camp in Pontypridd...

At first I thought the first Bonus Track "Rockfield Jam" a rather pointless instrumental of just over three minutes that showcases some good guitar playing but otherwise remains a bit disappointing. But the bugger’s actually grown on me. Genuinely better however is the Alternate Early Version of a huge fan fave – "Bananas". This early version is minus the lyrics about marijuana that used to thrill audiences so. It’s a couple of minutes shorter than the final album cut but still has that great guitar battle/duet thing going on for its duration – it’s a genuinely superb bonus.

So there you have it – "Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day" is a wicked early Seventies Rock album that’s been done a proper solid by a reissue label that cares.

Deke Leonard put out three Solo LPs in 1973, 1974 and 1981 (also on UA), Terry Williams later joined Dire Straits and Guitarist Micky Jones passed away in 2010. Esoteric have reissued and remastered the entire MAN catalogue in the same upgraded manner with full co-operation from the band (see list below) and I’ve reviewed 4, 6, 9 and 10 to date.

Esoteric Recordings MAN discography is as follows:
1. Revelation (January 1969) – Esoteric ECLEC 2127 (2009 Remaster with 4 Bonus Tracks)
2. 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (September 1969) – Esoteric ECLEC 2128 (2009 Remaster with 3 Bonus Tracks)
3. Man (March 1971) – Esoteric ECLEC 2012 (2007 Remaster with 2 Bonus Tracks)
4. Do You Like It Here Now, Are You Settling In? (November 1971) – Esoteric ECLEC 2013 (2007 Remaster with 3 Bonus Tracks)
5. Live At The Padget Rooms, Penarth (September 1972) – Esoteric ECLEC 2014 (2007 Remaster with the original 3-track album expanded onto 6 tracks across 2CDs)
6. Be Good To Yourself A Least Once A Day (November 1972) – Esoteric ECLEC 2019 (2007 Remaster In Card Digipak with "Map Of Wales" insert and 2 Bonus Tracks)
7. Christmas At The Patti by MAN and FRIENDS (July 1973) – Esoteric ECLEC 2018 (2007 Remaster. The original vinyl was a live double 10” record which featured FLYING ACES, DUCKS DELUXE, THE JETS, PLUM CRAZY with DAVE EDMUNDS, HELP YOURSELF with DEKE LEONARD and B.J. COLE and finally MAN with DAVE EDMUNDS and STAN PHIFER. The CD contains the full double with no extras)
8. Back Into The Future (September 1973 – Half Live/Half Studio Double-Album) – Esoteric ECLEC 2060 (2008 3CD Remaster with the 2LP set on CD1 whilst CD2 (June 1973) and CD3 (August 1973) have 10 Bonus Tracks)
9. Rhinos, Winos + Lunatics (May 1974) – Esoteric ECLEC 2020 (2007 Remaster with a Bonus 7” single cut on Disc 1 and a Previously Unreleased 5-Track Live Concert at The Whiskey A Go Go in LA on Disc 2)
10. Slow Motion (November 1974) – Esoteric ECLEC 2062 (2008 Remaster 6 Bonus Tracks)
11. Maximum Darkness [Live] (September 1975) – Esoteric ECLEC 2061 (2008 Remaster with two Live Bonus tracks)
12. The Welsh Connection (March 1976) – Esoteric ECLEC 22403 (2013 Remaster with a Bonus 7” single B-side ad 5 live tracks on CD1 and a 2nd CD of 9 tracks)
13. All's Well That Ends Well [Live] (November 1977) – Esoteric ECLEC 32431 (2014 Remaster of the album on CD1 with 2 Previously Unreleased CDs of the entire show from December 1976 (Discs 2 and 3) newly mixed from the 24-track tapes. There is also a repro of the "History Of Man" insert that came with the first 5000 copies of the original vinyl album)

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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