(All Album Reviews by Phil Jackson)
I must admit when I first listened to Slow Motion I wasn’t sure about it. Man, to me, were always a great live band struggling to recapture that energy and spontaneity in the studio and some of this 1974 album just didn’t seem like Man! Maybe the departure of keyboard player Malcolm Morley had something to do with it or the fact that it was released only 6 short months after the excellent Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics.
However, after a few listens I began to appreciate why John Peel loved Slow Motion so much. The 5 minute opener “Hard Way To Die” suggests Man may have been listening to some Steely Dan and the guitar fills compensate for the lack of a bona fide keyboard player. There are actually three versions of this song on the remastered Esoteric reissue, a live b-side and another live recording in Berkeley, California in April, 1975 included as part of a raft of generous bonus tracks including the inimitable “Many Are Called But Few Get Up”.
“Grasshopper” is a surprisingly mellow, acoustic guitar and string laden ballad with Deke Leonard on piano which leads to more typical Man fare, the stomping 12 bar “Rock and Roll You Out”. (The unreleased first mix of this song is also included as a bonus track). Man could always churn out a good riff and they don’t disappoint on side one closer “You Don’t Like Us”.
The brooding “Bedtime Bone” with its lethargic Beatlish guitar arpeggios opened side two of the original LP while “One More Chance” is much more upbeat and leads to another acoustic guitar/ string dominated piece, the charming but melancholy “Rainbow Eyes” with its fetching multi-part vocal harmonies. The rousing closing song “Day and Night” is more like the Man of old, slide guitar and all.
The music is interesting and, as always so are Deke Leonard’s liner notes which also tell the story of the controversial sleeve design.