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on 7 May 2017
Excellent record from one of Britain's mist underrated bands. A largely forgotten band, they delivered a unique jam band/rock sound that, in my opinion, was unmatched in Britain at the time. This fab half studio half live record really is the best of Man. Even though Deke is absent and therefore missed, (check out 'Padget's room' and 'All's well...' for the Deke/Mickey combo), the band deliver great studio songs as well as great live cuts. Even though it took me a few listens to appreciate the strange choir based live cut, (name another band that had that on an album), I thoroughly enjoyed this record. Two thumbs up to the pride of Wales!!!!!!
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This album, originally a double LP, was Man's first to chart (in the main album charts at least) and it's the first album of theirs that I bought. I was sufficiently impressed to start buying their others soon afterwards but this remains one of my favourites, primarily for the two excellent side long live tracks from the second disc. They sounded so hot on these tracks that I was soon longing to hear more of the same concert - it always seemed obvious that their whole set must have been recorded. In 1976, C'mon and Jam Up Jelly Tight were joined by Bananas, frustratingly spread over two sides of an EP issued a few months before the last 70s line-up of the band split up. It was so good that my interest in hearing the rest of the concert increased further.

So now at last the great day has arrived and Esoteric have reissued the album with the entire concert as a bonus. CD 1 contains the original album in its original running order; I've reviewed the BGO reissue separately so I'll say little more on the subject as it is the bonus material that will be interesting most potential purchasers. CDs 2 and 3 contain the whole concert in (presumably) the correct running order, with CD 3 ending with 2 studio out-takes recorded a few months after the album, presumably for a single that was never issued: The Single (I'm Dreaming) was first issued a couple of years back on the Keep On Crinting compilation and is certainly worth hearing, though not that brilliant; The Symbol Who Came To Dinner (the intended B-side of this unissued 45?) is a little over-complicated but perhaps slightly better; both would have sounded at home on side 1 of the original studio album.

When I first heard of this release I was a little concerned that by reissuing the original album but also reproducing the complete original concert in its correct running order Esoteric had duplicated the live tracks from the original album. They have done this, however the entire concert as reproduced on CDs 2 and 3 has been newly mixed for this release, so they aren't exactly duplicated. The good news is that it's been far better done than the appallingly unbalanced mess on the Greasy Truckers reissue, however I'm not wholly persuaded that it couldn't have been better - particularly on C'mon, though this hardly matters given you've got the superior original mix. It does sound very live, however, and you can hear everyone clearly enough. It's also worth pointing out that both C'mon and Jam Up Jelly Tight run a fraction slower in the new mix - less than a semitone; I wonder if they were slightly sped up on the original album. Both the full set list and the actual performance are fascinating. Apart from Spunk Rock, the entire set is taken from the studio half of this album and its excellent predecessor Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day; while Bananas and C'mon have remained in their set ever since, live versions of A Night In Dad's Bag, Just For You and Ain't Their Fight are a rare treat as they were never played by subsequent line-ups and disappeared from their set within months. The first two, unsurprisingly given how recently they'd been recorded, sound pretty similar to the studio versions but have that extra live "oomph". Ain't Their Fight is looser and sounds like they'd been playing it for longer (Will Youatt wrote it for Be Good To Yourself). It has its moments but the vocal lets it down in places. Of the Be Good To Yourself tunes, Bananas is fabulous, certainly better than the Maximum Darkness version (though, given they included the original Vic Maile mixes of the live tracks from the original LP, it would have nice if they'd included the original mix of Bananas from the EP too) and the previously unheard Life On The Road is very good too. And finally, the very familiar Jam Up Jelly Tight (almost certainly the first Man track I ever heard) has a little surprise in the shape of a couple of vocal passages that were mixed out of the original release.

So while this isn't a perfect reissue - the live mix probably betrays the limited time resources available for a project of this kind with fairly limited sales potential (the same probably goes for Greasy Truckers but at least in this case it seems to have been mixed by someone with some understanding of the music) and the performance has a few minor dips - it is nonetheless a highly desirable item for Man fans and seems likely to be one of the best selling of this series. Thank you Esoteric - let's have some more complete concerts please.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 January 2009
The original of this was the first Man I ever bought, back in the seventies. I'm not sure how many times I saw them (did I mention that I may at that stage of life have been too interested in the girls at gigs to count?), but I do know I never saw Deke Leonard, who wrote the liner notes for this new edition, with them, so suffice to say I saw them more than once in a fairly short space of time, and I remember thinking they were one of the best live acts around (I noticed that despite the aforementioned preoccupation), hence I now have loads of live records by them, many like this one recently remastered and augmented.

One of the novelties on this recording is the presence of the Gwalia Male Voice Choir. As the MC here proclaims, the choir first appeared with Man at an Oval gig shortly before the Roundhouse one captured on Back Into The Future, and their picture appeared in the Melody Maker of the time, them suited and booted with their white shirts and bow ties. It always occurred to me that surely this noble, fine-voiced ensemble did not go to the trouble of coming up from the valleys and dressing in their Sunday best just to sing a single rugby song, Sospan Fach (which I believe is about a Small Saucepan, and is misspelt on the cover of this release), and lala in the background of C'Mon, albeit that they convert a good passage into a classic one in doing so.

Still that's all we get here, which is a shame.

Never mind though. What Esoteric have done here is, even without any additional GMVC material, a real treat, finally releasing, apparently, the Roundhouse gig in its entirety, and we not only get some additional tracks, we also hear the old ones differently, with some introductory guitar picking preceding the previously familiar opening of C'Mon, a much more prominent organ mix, and some vocals on Spunk Rock which must have been expunged from the original release. Isn't that what a release like this one is all about, after all? I just wish they'd done the same with Maximum Darkness, which I thought was a wasted opportunity.

The new live tracks are two from the studio album of Back Into The Future, which have an added vitality played live, and two from the previous studio release, Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day, including their notorious standby, Bananas, of which I have five versions, each different from the other. Together with this track, C'Mon and Spunk Rock are the essence of Man live, with plenty of wide open space to allow the jazz/funk/rock/blues/country influences to all come out and merge, and captured here are the best of the best.

So, what's Roy got to do with this? Roy was my roomie at college, and when we first met, day one of year one, we were wearing identical Man badges, and I swear the only reason he tolerated my bad attitude and even worse habits was because when all else failed we could both get all rapturous about Micky Jones's Gibson SG over a pint in The Dive. But unlike me, Roy had seen Man with Deke Leonard, and he sang Deke's praises, so that's the reason I forgive the choice of an "outsider" to write the liner notes.

And there's plenty to forgive, as most of the story is about him, even though he's not on the record, and the liners don't even manage to inform us who plays on the record.

(Using what little there is here and the notes from the original CD I managed to work out that the personnel are Phil Ryan on keyboards and vocals, Will Youatt on bass, Terry Williams drums, "Tweke" Lewis on guitar and the incomparable Micky Jones - for me always the face of Man - also on guitar. If I got that wrong, please let me know!)

But where it counts, in the music, this is one of the best rock rethinks I've come across, a worthy tribute to Man, and one I trust Roy, Manfan numero uno, also has in his collection.
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on 4 August 2008
If there was a single high point in the history of Man, between 1968 and 1976, this performance at the Roundhouse in June 1973 is a strong candidate. The entire concert is captured on this new 3 Disc Esoteric release. While the re-release of the original Back into the Future album which features on Disc 1 of the three disc set is more than welcome, it is the presentation of the entire Roundhouse set on Discs 2 and 3 which make this release the most important of the Esoteric re-release series so far. This concert represents Man at the peak of their powers and is head and shoulders above other live Man available on CD.

The whole concert is of a consistently high quality. There is not a bad number on this 7 track live set (8 if you count the introduction from the Gwalia Male Voice Choir). And at least 4 or 5 of those tracks are nothing short of extraordinary. The performances of "C'mon" and "Bananas" featured here are superior by a large margin to other versions released on Man live sets. After listening to this "Bananas" here you won't bother playing ever again the version on "Maximum Darkness", for example. And the quality of Man's performance on this release becomes even clearer if you compare "C'mon" and "Bananas" with the versions that appeared on the BBC In Concert release recorded on the Up for the Day tour in October 1973. The arrangements were the same, the line-up is the same but the intensity and vibe of the October performance was lacking. In June, Man were performing at their absolute best - by October the conflicts described by Deke Leonard in his liner notes were taking their toll on the music. Apart from "C'mon" and "Bananas" the set also features excellent versions of "Life on the Road" and "Ain't their Fight" as well as an extraordinary jam leading into an inevitable "Spunk Rock".

Will Youatt's "Ain't their Fight" deserves a special mention as it was a favorite in the Man live set during the previous incarnation of the group with Clive John and continued later into the live set of Alcatraz, Will Youatt's post Man group in 1976. An encore number at the Roundhouse gig, it features all that was good about this particular configuration of Man: a dark funky backbeat and unpretentious lyrics, overlaid with a dense inter-play of guitar and keyboard work.

The line-up on this recording, which has inexplicably been omitted from the sleeve notes was Micky Jones (Guitar / Vocals), Will Youatt (Bass / Vocals); Phil Ryan (Keyboards / Vocals); Tweke Lewis (Guitar) and Terry Williams (Drums). Whereas the 1972 line-up of Martin Ace, Deke Leonard, Micky Jones and Terry Williams produced tight driving rock, this album features a very different Man. "Jam up Jelly Tight", "Ain't their Fight" and the second half of "Bananas" feature wonderfully fluid, jazzy guitar inter-play work as Lewis and Jones effortlessly and spontaneously bounce licks off each other. . Compared to Man's regular second guitarist, Deke Leonard, Tweke Lewis never got the credit he deserved, probably because he only survived six months in the group. These recordings are really a tribute to the contribution Lewis made to Man's sound of the epoch. The contrast between the delicacy and subtlety of the guitar and keyboard interplay and the solidly rhythms being laid down by Youatt and Williams makes it feel like the band is trying to touching heaven with it's fingertips but with it's feet firmly planted on the ground. This music has heart as well as muscle.

None of the other live albums get anywhere close to this. The version of "Spunk Rock" on the original Greasy Truckers album (not on the awful remix on the Esoteric re-release) was a high point of the 1972 Ace / Jones Leonard / Williams line-up and one of the very best Man recordings ever - but it was a single track. Parts of "Live at the Paget Rooms" and "Maximum Darkness" reach similar peaks of intensity with the same Ace / Jones /Leonard / Williams line-up (and with the addition of Quicksilver guitarist John Cippolina on the latter) but not the whole set. Those who like the hard-rock facet of Man may prefer these sets. The Man on "Back into the Future" sounds like a different band altogether. Gone are rockers such as "Romain" and "Many are Called". In are the complex textures and more magical sound that this line-up specialized in.

This recording is without a doubt a 5 star offering that could be recommended to both Man stalwarts and newcomers alike. It is difficult to imagine Esoteric trumping this one in any future release. One minor gripe is with the inaccuracy of Deke Leonard's liner notes. The June 1973 Roundhouse concert was not on the autumn Up for the Day Tour as Deke states; the Rock at the Oval gig was in September 1972 and not in May 1973 and was played by the previous Clive John line-up. Tweke Lewis never gets a mention in the liner notes at all. A better account is to be found in Deke's book "Rhinos Winos and Lunatics". Who cares? Probably not everyone but these inaccuracies will be noted by long-term Man aficionados who like their facts straight. .
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on 2 July 2014
Very good collection in this expanded edition

The original studio material was of a very high standard and the live stuff on the vinyl sides 3 & 4 was one of the best ever Man live artefacts(there's plenty of them and most are very good)

Now we get the full version of that concert spread over CDs 2 & 3 and it maeks for an even better listening experience.

Plus an a & b side of a single makes for good value for money
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Welsh band Man are noted for their constantly changing line-ups, in fact by the time this album came out five years into their career they included only one original member, lead guitarist and singer Micky Jones. But their original line-up wasn't their best and this is not only one of their best albums but also the most successful chart-wise. The original album was a double LP with one studio disc and one live, and the studio disc was divided between two different line-ups, with second guitarist Tweke Lewis joining halfway through the sessions. The studio album is patchy but for a band whose real strengths always lay on stage it has some fine moments, especially the two longer tracks recorded by the 2-guitar line-up, Ain't Their Fight, which features some fine tremolo/wah work from Micky Jones, and the uncharacteristically prog rock oriented Never Say Nups To Nepalese.

But the real meat of this album is the two live tracks recorded at the London Roundhouse in June 1973. C'mon, easily one of their greatest songs and originally from their previous (and best) studio album "Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day" is found in its definitive version here, with some marvellously psychedelic sequences bracketed by the urgent and extremely positive song parts, and even backing vocals from Gwalia Male Choir (who get their own track just before C'mon). They play with such tightness and power towards the end of the song that it sounds as if they might levitate. The 20 minutes plus Jam Up Jelly Tight/Spunk Rock starts in a fairly lowkey fashion and gradually builds through some excellent soloing from Jones, Lewis and keyboard player Phil Ryan, anchored by the superbly tight and dynamic drumming of Terry Williams, before they reach back into their early repertoire for Spunk Rock itself, a kind of 12-bar stomp in 5/4 time, and a scorching finish again. Not for people who think guitar solos should be restricted to a couple of bars, but then again there's nothing wrong with playing long tracks as long as you've still got something to say musically. Man were on a roll at this gig and it's wonderful that the gig has now been issued in its entirety - see my review of the Esoteric reissue for details of the full concert. The line-up proved unstable and Micky Jones and Terry Williams ditched the rest of the band and reunited with former guitarist Deke Leonard, plus a couple of ex-members of Help Yourself, a few months later, but this remains one of their high points.
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on 7 March 2014
I bought this in conjunction with the original albums collection to fill in any gaps in my Man music and it's an excellent addition.
Again - I would recommend to any Manband fan old or young. you cannot beat this proper music!
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on 1 June 2001
Back into the future....with Man...one of their - greatest in my opinion.Man sort of a Welsh edition of the Grateful dead...only much better! originally a double on vinyl..but here, the whole package on 1 cd.though much different than their first two albums....one still can hear original ideas and different approaches.The great twin- guitars of Deke Leonard and Mick Jones...sort of their trademark...Wishbone ash on acid if you like One half a studio...another half live thing. I could rave about every track,but i think youre better of hearing this terrific album. If youre into Caravan..that whole era of uk music and you have yet to experience these guys. Youre in for an exiting different ride. Go for it....broaden your musical horizon. My bet is....youll want to own their many other- albums,after hearing this. oh...and do have a pint of lager while listening. ENJOY.
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on 1 February 2014
It was on the strength of this double lp release in 1973, bought by my best mate Joe, that we went to Buxton festival in 1974 (for a few swimming lessons, the weather was that bad), to see Man and another interesting band called Greenslade. Greenslade didn't show, which was typical of them, but a great Man line up eventually came on in the late evening just before top of the bill "Rod bloo** Stewart". Man were laying into it and I was really getting excited, but after about 15minutes the drunken Scotch t**ts who couln't wait for Mr Stewart, canned Man off the stage. End of story.This new cd release with the full roundhouse concert does show what a great band Man were at that time, and anyone who likes prog rock with a touch of psychedelia should buy this and indulge their senses. Just for the record, this music is only something old man Stewart could dream about!
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on 17 January 2009
`Back into the future' was the first MAN album I ever, heard courtesy of my mate's elder brother on it's release in 1973. It's still my favourite and has been a constant companion in one format or another for 35 yearsand it still sounds as just as awesome.. The dynamic interplay between Ryan, Jones and Lewis allied to the lock down beat of Terry Williams and Will Youatt, makes the album undeniably funky-not a phrase normally associated with early 70's guitar rock. (Lewis had only been in the line up for a few gigs prior to the Roundhouse date, which makes how successfully he slotted in even more remarkable)
Initially the track line up looks a bit odd; CD 1 is the original album ,and on CDs 2 and 3 you get the live `Cmon' and `Jam up/Spunk rock '73' again .But this time they are in their rightful place in the context of the whole Roundhouse concert with three (excellent) live takes of songs from the studio album plus a stonking version of `Bananas' and a `Life on the Road' that is infinitely superior to the studio version on `Be good to yourself.....'
To finish on CD 3, there are two `lost' studio tracks, I'm normally a bit dubious about this kind of find; they are normally lost for a good reason. But these are interesting and enjoyable in their own right and to my ears `I'm dreaming' bears at least a passing resemblance `Scotch Corner' from the band's next album `Rhino's ,winos and lunatics' .By then only Messrs. Jones and Williams remained from this line up.
Whatever your level of MAN fandom, it is well worth the money.You won't regret it.

Tim Skelton
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