CD Reviews

Man - 'Welsh Connection' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 31, 2014    
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Great album, great package: It's hard to see what more you could want from a reissue.

This is a fantastic "2 disk deluxe" reissue of Man's 1976 album 'Welsh Connection'. It was Man's ninth studio album but the first and only to feature exemplary bassist John McKenzie, whose post-Man CV includes work with everyone from Dylan, Bowie and Albert Lee to Alison Moyet and Andrea Corr. McKenzie slots in wonderfully alongside mainstays Micky Jones (guitar and vocals), Deke Leonard (guitar and vocals), Terry Williams (drums) and returning keys man Phil Ryan.
Originally released on MCA, 'Welsh Connection' reached the UK Top 40 and threatened to give Man a new lease of life. It's not difficult to see why: seven solid tracks of largely guitar driven rock which is a touch 'proggy', a touch experimental and, occasionally a touch jazzy – and is all the better for it.

Opener 'The Road And The View' suggests hard won experience and hints at both Ted Nugent's 'Stranglehold' and early Skynyrd. 'Out of Your Head' is also a winner with its boozy (Welsh) redneck riff, its doped-up rhythm, cool backing vocals and spacey keyboard effects. Ironically, the soulful psychedelia of McKenzie's sole songwriting contribution, 'Love Can Find a Way', harks back to some of Man's 60s roots and, for me, delivers one of the album's standout tracks. It's "pretty swell".
Also strong is the 'Welsh Connection' itself, which starts a run of three tracks, taking in 'Something Is Happening' and 'Car Toon', which dance, jam and trip along that fragile border where progressive rock music meets Steely Dan. Original album closer 'Born With A Future' is a more straightforward rocker, though listen out for some particularly soulful vocals and some great bass playing.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Man fans will be pleased with the addition of the Leonard composition 'I'm A Love Taker', the b-side of 'Out Of Your Head' (the album's only single) and a track recorded some time earlier when only Jones, Leonard and Williams of this line-up were in the band. The icing on the cake, however, is the inclusion of the band's entire performance from The Keystone, Berkeley, California (August 1976), with guitarist John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger fame guesting on the last four tracks. Five tracks from 'Welsh Connection' feature in an impressive 14 track 101 minute set.

The packaging of this new edition is pleasing throughout. It features a 16 page booklet with an informative essay from Michael Heatley, plenty of shots of the band and assorted tour posters, and "fully restored" artwork from the original album. For existing fans, it's a worthy replacement for, or addition to, tattered vinyl and non-expanded editions. But hopefully a few new listeners will also be enticed. Great album, great package – it's hard to see what more you could want from a reissue.

Michael Anthony

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