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on 20 February 2014
I've been waiting for this since 'The Welsh Connection' was re-mastered and it does not disappoint. Another superb package from Esoteric Records. Great sound and legendary musicianship. If you like MAN, you need this.
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This album documents Man's "last stand" (they played 2 or 3 more gigs on their farewell tour before finishing up at Slough a few days later) at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London, on 10-12 December 1976. I went on the 12th and can vouch for it being a fine performance - I still have a cassette I recorded on the night. However, that night wasn't officially recorded and both the original LP and this 3 CD set are taken from the 10th and 11th. I bought the LP when it came out and always found both the mix/mastering and some of the performances a little too polite - I preferred to listen to my bootleg. Many years later the album came out in a dodgy CD version badly mastered from the original vinyl - I've heard it but happily not wasted money on it.

This deluxe and first fully legit reissue contains a remastered (but not remixed) version of the original LP on the first disc and newly mixed additional material on the second and third discs, amounting to their complete set. We'll have to assume that the five songs that appear here for the first time (7171 551, Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, C'mon, Many Are Called But Few Get Up and Bananas) are the better of the versions they played on those two nights but FWIW I think some of them (C'mon, Many Are Called) are inferior to those on my tape of the 12th. Bananas and Babe I'm Gonna Leave You are pretty fine though - they were presumably left off primarily because they'd been on Man's previous live album, Maximum Darkness, recorded at the same venue just over 18 months earlier, although with a different line-up.

Of the songs that appear twice, all the versions on discs 2 and 3 seem to be different from those on disc 1 - I'm fairly sure no performance appears twice. As the track list specifies which night the tracks on discs 2 and 3 were recorded, we can therefore infer that on the original album, Let The Good Times Roll, Spunk Rock and Romain were recorded on 10th December and the remainder on the 11th - unless any of them are composites.

The mix on discs 2 and 3 is quite similar to the sound on the original LP - again, I would prefer it to be quite a bit fiercer, especially the drums. It's a shame they didn't get Vic Maile to record it, as he did Greasy Truckers, the live material on Back Into The Future and Maximum Darkness - he clearly knew how to record Man at the Roundhouse! The alternate versions of most of the songs that appeared on the original LP are noticeably different - Man were, after all, always an improvising/jamming band, even if less so in this line-up than most others. The versions used on the original LP were undoubtedly the slickest and the newly released versions of some of those songs have some minor fluffs - most noticeably on the intro of The Welsh Connection. But slickest isn't always most interesting and there are fascinating variations.

Overall, although this is a welcome reissue and there's much to enjoy, the two nights documented here just aren't the best gigs this line-up of Man played. In particular, the performance from Berkeley on 9 August 1976 issued with the deluxe reissue of Welsh Connection last year is fiercer and often more inspired (e.g. a way superior C'mon and much more, and more interesting, synth work from Phil Ryan) and features two songs (Something Is Happening and Out Of Your Head) that had been dropped by the time of this recording in favour of a not-that-great (in either version here, especially the previously unissued one) revival of Spunk Rock.
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on 12 August 2014
A career closing (at the time) document of an excellent concert. The single disc version was always good, here in it's remastered form it absolutely sparkles. The unedited full concert gives you the whole overview of the band at that time. I always preferred my Man with added Phil Ryan who's keyboard colourings add so much. And John McKenzie's bass playing is a lot brighter than previous encumbents
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VINE VOICEon 26 January 2016
I was at the final concert , the one at Slough. I had seen Man several times before , since the early great days of Bananas and Spunk Rock and Many Are Called, at other venues in Slough, and they had always been very,very good. I recall a particularly fine "Ride and the View" on this , their final night.
This is an excellent record of this particular incarnation of Man, a band that underpinned much of my late teens and early twenties.
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