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Voiceprint Web Radio talks to Martin Ace, long-time bass player for the British progrock band, Man. Martin discusses Man's concerts over the years and the band's live recordings.
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The Man band first came together as The Bystanders in 1964 being one of numerous pop groups in the sixties that were trying to climb the ladder of success, managing to release many singles between 1964 and 1968.
When Deke Leonard from another Welsh band, The Dream joined, The Bystanders became Man band, and were signed to Pye records. The music that the Man band performed was much removed from the pop sensibilities of The Bystanders, being more in keeping with the West Coast sound of American groups such as The Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Man would record two albums for Pye records under their progressive rock label, Dawn, namely ‘Revelation’ and ‘2ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle’. The band then left Pye to sign with the more progressively minded Liberty records in 1970, and were to remain there until 1976 when they signed with MCA. The seventies would be an interesting time for the band, with many comings and goings of various members. These included the departure and return of key members Clive John, Deke Leonard and Martin Ace at various points. At one time the only original member left in the band was Mickey Jones.
The music of course never suffered and in a particularly fertile period the band managed to record and release no less than seven studio albums namely ‘Man’, ‘Do You Like It Here Now, Are You Settling In’, ‘Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day’, ‘Back Into The Future’, ‘Rhinos Winos And Lunatics’, ‘Slow Motion’ and ‘Maximum Darkness’, which featured Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cippolina. In addition Man embarked on a huge live workload which took the group to America, where their particular brand of rock music found favour with audiences. Following the deal with MCA, the band released just one more studio album, ‘The Welsh Connection’, before announcing the decision to call it a day. They did one last tour to be recorded and finally released as ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’, which at the time would have seemed to be it, as far as the Man band were concerned.
In the wake of the split the various members all concentrated on solo projects including the Flying Aces with Martin Ace and The Flying Pigs with Mickey Jones. The Drummer Terry Williams probably had the highest profile during this time playing first with fellow Welshman, Dave Edmunds and former Brinsley Schwarz bassist, Nick Lowe in Rockpile. Terry went on to massive success as a member of Dire Straits and played on the multimillion selling ‘Brothers In Arms’ album.
In 1983 Man reformed to head out on the road playing gigs and recording again. The line up included Deke Leonard, Mickey Jones, Martin Ace and former Gentle Giant drummer John Weathers. Terry could not take part due to his commitments with Dire Straits. One notable gig was a concert at the world famous Marquee club to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the venue. This concert was filmed then subsequently released on video and also in edited form as the album ‘Friday The Thirteenth’.
Man didn’t just concentrate on the live circuit, although they were becoming increasingly popular, but also recorded a number of excellent studio albums. These included ‘ The Twang Dynasty’ and ‘Call Down The Moon’. More recently the band has had to deal with health issues as both Deke Leonard and Mickey Jones have suffered setbacks and had to drop out for short periods of time. Deke Leonard was replaced by former member of Man, keyboard player Phil Ryan, whilst Mickey Jones’ son George, stood in for the guitarist while he recovered from brain surgery. This meant that the band managed to keep it in the family.
Man continued to perform many gigs both in the UK and abroad, despite Deke Leonard leaving in 2004, to concentrate on a solo career and other projects. Deke’s last gig with the band was at the legendary 100 Club in London on April 16th 2004.
With Martin Ace leading from the front, the band continued to record and play dates with another line up change when George Jones left the band.