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3.9 out of 5 stars12
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 30 October 2003
Persistent though the comparisons between E and Tom Waits remain, they are not the most obvious. Certainly the true gift of both is an unparalleled ability to craft truly beautiful songs from the raw materials of banality and human nature - the power to create something extraordinary from ordinariness itself. This record is an essential purchase for one reason: the closing track is perhaps the saddest song ever written. A parting of ways between between lovers, parents and child, friends - who exactly is irrelevant - 'You'll Be the Scarecrow' eulogises the past and ponders the future (E questions the finite nature of life ['there may not be a day for us'] with so much throaty heartbreak you genuinely believe there are tears in his eyes) with an everyday sadness and acceptance of mortality that is gut-wrenching. To reflect the unassuming sadness of daily existence is not to be depressive, but deeply beautiful - both heartbreaking and life-affirming.
Similarly, the slight 'Mockingbird Franklin' is 'Invitation to the Blues' for teenagers - a love song of sorts that is sad because of its ordinary melancholy, not because it was engineered to be so. Essentially, it's a prototype 'Beautiful Freak' but still as sweet and unique as its subject.
The other great link between Waits and E is the truly breathtaking knack of hiding the most shy, memorable melodies behind an iron curtain of initially impenetrable experimentation. Here is where E's first solo outing falls behind his later Eels material. A Man Called E is something of a straight ball, often sounding uncannily like mid-period R.E.M. Nothing wrong with this of course, as like R.E.M. E manages to write pop tunes that are both accessible and intelligent ('Fitting In With the Misfits', 'Looking Out the Window with A Blue Hat On') without ever being trite or irritating. It does mean, however, that the album is somewhat more lightweight than any Eels album, a problem substantiated by an indecently short running time of about half-an-hour. It is also a little too upfront, lacking the shy eccentricies that make Eels albums so compelling.
All in all, this record is an essential purchase for the mastery of 'You'll be The Scarecrow' alone. This track, along with sparodic glimmers of genius on this record, is the earliest evidence that by the end of the 1900s E would join Tom Waits as the most endearingly unique and eccentric musician in the world.
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on 3 February 2001
I first thought that when I got this album it would be nothing next to all of my Eels albums, but when I played it, I was delighted. The tracks cater for a lot of people. They range from the cheerful, upbeat but also dark lyrics of I've Been Kicked Around to the lullabye-esque Mockingbird Franklin.
The only thing that I don't like about the album is it's short running time of only about 30 minutes. Please don't let that put you off this CD though, because it's an excellent album that you will be able to listen to time and time again without becoming tired of it.
If you are a fan of the Eels, I strongly suggest you listen to this but even if you're not, it is worth giving it a listen.
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on 26 July 2004
I am a huge eels fan and therefore purchased 'a man called e' and my response to it is.....ITS GREAT! well if you have never heard of the eels then i would not start off with the lead singer 'e's' record 'a man called e' but if your also a huge eels fan then woo hoo get this album might not match the standards of your beloved eels collection but its still great.
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on 7 February 2013
I'd often thought about buying this early E album as I'm a huge fan of Eels and have every album they've made; so whilst pre-release ordering the new Wonderful Glorious CD I finally got around to it. Glad I did - it's an interesting addition to the catalogue - especially to experience the early directions E's writing and music was taking. It's clearly E with some typically lovely songs of his more gentle style but they are in the main less ambitious and wide ranging musically and the lyrics have less bite than all E's subsequent work with Eels. But clearly a remarkable songwriter in nthe making. His later work is nothing short of brilliant.
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on 29 January 2010
As a huge Eels fan, like many others I wanted to investigate further records by our friend'E'. This is very different from 'Beautiful Freak' and in some ways, more similar to the later work of Eels but not as good. Some good songs but not one I listen to very much and the sound seems to be a tad over-produced to me? I managed to get a cheap copy of 'Broken Toy Shop' off Ebay (Sorry to rub it in), which is excellent and in my opinion, a huge step forward from this record.

'E' would go on to be one of the very best artists of the 90s and noughties. If only more people knew!
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on 26 March 2012
This is what I would call an apprenticeship album, The Beatles had "Please Please Me", Nirvana had "Bleach" & E has this record. There aren't any really classic material on this record, but it is interesting to listen to how his song writing talents have evolved since this Album.
I feel with someone like E, his songs are so autobiographical, at this point he's still a bit young & needs more life experience.
So I would purchase the rest of the Eels back catalogue, before investing in this offering
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on 22 September 2015
A good start to becoming an avid fan of his material which though sometimes morose due to family experiences is never boring
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on 22 April 2008
I'll be up front about this - I love E, and anything he does. I wasn't sure how many stars to give this album, as it really isn't as good as his work with Eels. Nevertheless, compared with what normally would get four stars, this is a classic album and if it was the only thing he had ever produced, he would still have the right to be a very proud man indeed.
If you aren't familiar with the works of E - Eels, MC Honky - then I would advise a more popular album like Daisies of the Galaxy or Beautiful Freak. However, if like me you can sing along to every single song released by Eels and just need more of that tasty Eness, this uplifting depress-fest is for you.
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on 5 July 2015
Not a bad CD, but he's a better songwriter these days
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on 23 July 2010
Excellent CD. From the wonderful 'Hello Cruel World' along to 'You'll be the scarecrow' it is all very good.
Truly adorable expression of a young man finding himself in the world of music and parodying all aspects of storytelling. Plenty of cleverly hidden cliches.
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