Man from Wales is by many people to be considered as a real progressive rock band. However in my humble opinion they take their inspiration from several musical styles and just one of them is occasionally progressive rock. Once in a while in their very long career they released albums that had more elements from this musical style in their music than on other releases. A good example is their album The Welsh Connection (see review) originally released in 1976 and rereleased several times. One of the members on this album was guitarist and vocalist Dek Leonard. He was a member of Man several times because he joined several times and left again. During his absence for the first time he released two solo albums for United Artists, namely Iceberg (1973) and Kamikaze (1974). Both albums have been rereleased in 2015. This time around they were newly remastered from the original master tapes and have several bonus tracks.
When Leonard left the group Man in 1972, he was briefly a member of Help Yourself. With those musicians and the help of Micky Gibbons (Badfinger), Byron Berline (The Flying Burrito Brothers), Tommy Riley, Martin Ace and Beau Adams he recorded his first solo effort Iceberg. That in turn led to the foundation of the band Iceberg, which consisted of Brian Breeze (guitar), Paul Burton (bass) and Keith Hodge (drums). The actual Iceberg album was recorded between October 1972 and January 1973 at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth and Olympic Studios in Barnes, London. From this album A Hard Way To Live was chosen as a single. The original album features twelve tracks. This new edition has six bonus tracks, three of which are previously unreleased. They come from singles from 1973 and from sessions for Iceberg.
Leonard's second album Kamikaze came out between June 1973 and January 1974 and was recorded at Rockfield studios, Chipping Norton Studios and Olympic Studios. Brian Breeze (guitar), Martin Ace (bass), Keith Hodge (drums), Dave Charles (drums) and Man members Micky Jones, Terry Williams and Ken Whaley played on it. The album hit the charts in the UK, which led to the formation of the earlier mentioned Iceberg band. The original album features eleven tracks. This new edition has four bonus tracks, three of which are previously unreleased. They come from the B-side of a single and sessions for Kamikaze. One of the previously unreleased tracks is the first version of the Man classic California Silks And Satins.
Listening to both albums you can't deny that the influences of his former band Man are present. I guess that does not come much as a surprise because his old mates from Man dropped in for guest appearances on those cuts. And just like on the releases of his former band the influences of progressive rock come to the surface as well. However the main musical style we have on both releases is a style which is known as roots rock. Roots rock is a style of rock music that draws material from various American musical traditions including country, blues and folk. The term is sometimes used in a broader sense to encompass other genres of Americana, including early rock and roll, country rock, and other related forms. There are a few throwaway tracks on his solo albums, a few experiments, but the general mood is one of low-key charm. Deke didn't try to break a whole lot of stylistic ground with his compositions. He just wrote music to entertain himself and those who were willing to listen. As far as I know he still makes music and writes books. His fourth book, the third in his autobiographical series, Maximum Darkness: Man On The Road To Nowhere was officially published in January 2015. As of 2012 Iceberg are still performing, with Will Youatt (bass), Bob Richards (drums) and James Beck (guitar) backing Leonard.
Those who enjoy the albums made by Man will certainly enjoy Iceberg and Kamikaze as well. No doubt about that. I am even sure lovers of progressive rock will hear from time to time compositions that will give them some musical satisfaction. Even more if they aren't afraid to go beyond the borders of progressive rock. Meaning enjoying musical styles such as country, blues, and folk as well.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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