Man - 'Reanimated Memories' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 23, 2015    
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It's the sound of a band gently easing its way through its twilight years.

When Steven Wilson played St. David's Hall recently, he amusingly remarked that the last time he played Cardiff, Man and Budgie were the upcoming local bands. That comment alone, warmly delivered, gives some indication of the longevity and status of the Man Band and their sometimes convoluted history.

Amid the recent flurry of excellent re-issues, 'Reanimated Memories' is Man's first new studio album since 2009's 'Kingdom Of Noise' and, it's worth pointing out, the third studio album to feature no original members. That said, given recent line-up stability, the presence of Phil Ryan (keyboards) and Martin Ace (vocals, bass) will provide sufficient credibility for most fans, with the line-up completed by Josh Ace (vocals, rhythm guitar), James Beck (vocals, lead guitar) and Rene Robrahn (drums).

Undoubtedly '...Memories' features eleven well-crafted tracks that, here and there, draw on aspects of Man's considerable heritage (after all, how many spots can a leopard change?). A case in point is 'In Time'; an extended Ryan composition which works hard to inspire. On the one hand, it's nice to see legendary bands still cranking out original material but on the other, there's little here that really echoes Man at their best. Not that this album is likely to harm their legacy at all – it's just not likely to add that much to it.

Despite its Country feel, opener 'The Ballad Of Billy Lee' (which, like 'We Know' and 'One More Ride On The Waltzers' features the pedal steel guitar talents of guest B.J. Cole) has more weight than most of the songs on offer. 'No Solution' smoothly nudges the band towards the middle of the road, which is where they stay for most of the album. 'Ordinary Man' has a bit more to it and is brought to life by Ryan's keyboard touches, but it is only really on the tracks with more of an overt Blues influence, namely 'Got No Money In My Pocket' and 'Nothing Fails Like Success', that Man's characteristic charm, humour and musical playfulness shine through. Elsewhere, it's all nice and pleasant enough, though even the provocatively entitled 'God Delusion' fails to fire up the passions.

I suspect that there is an audience for this sort of album amongst the Man faithful. However, this is not Man as they used to be, it's the sound of a band gently easing its way through its twilight years.

Michael Anthony

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