I once went backstage with Man’s Deke Leonard and survived. However, it was touch and go because from the moment I went up and nervously asked him to sign my ageing Kamikaze album until I emerged just in time for the band to take the stage he had me laughing non-stop.
This is a guy who could entertain you with some of the best rock stories you will hear, or, of course, read. To do that you need to check out his brilliant books Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics, named after Man’s 1974 album, and Maybe I Should’ve Stayed In Bed. It must be noted, however, that these are not books to read on crowded commuter trains for fear of being strapped up and carted away.
Man were/are the psychedelic, prog/country-blues rock/jam band from south Wales. They were famed for going off on extended jams, a side of them that made every live gig a unique experience. They emerged in 1969 with the debut album Revelation with its theme of evolution. The cover featuring nude shots of the band and the track “Erotica” with its “Je T’aime” orgasm certainly got people talking.
Their second album came out six months later in September of that year. 2 Ozs. Of Plastic (With A Hole In The Middle) has now been re-released with three bonus tracks. They include “Walkin’ The Dogma” an early “Spunk Box” demo, and an alternative version of “My Name Is Jesus Smith”. Not only that but the album notes are written by Deke Leonard himself. Need I say more?
In his inimitable way he tells us of the band’s first meeting with Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin’s larger than life manager, and of how the album was written in a gloomy basement flat in South London. He fills us in with why “Spunk Rock” bizarrely became “Spunk Box” leaving you celebrating the sensors priceless screw up.
He then explains how the magnificently titled “Shit On The World” became “It Is As It Must Be”. He reveals how the Carry On film comedian Sid James witnessed a Man recording session and what he said of the experience.
Amid the chaos of this twilight existence, they created something pretty damned special. 2 Ozs. Of Plastic (With A Hole In The Middle) is widely considered their finest work, even though Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics pushed hard. Deke confirms this when he writes in the notes, “if you don’t like this Man album, then you’ll never like a Man album”.