“Man never quite hit the heights; I suppose they were almost too versatile… they locked into something nimble, nuanced and gorgeous”: James Dean Bradfield’s prog heroes

James Dean Bradfield and Man
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In 2022, Manic Street Preachers vocalist James Dean Bradfield discussed his prog passions and explain how a 1976 album by Man – another band from Wales – had become his favourite.

“For me prog starts with Rush, when I was about 17. [Manics bassist] Nicky Wire and his brother were already gigantic fans, and – like a lot of people coming late to them – my in was The Spirit Of Radio, the album Moving Pictures and songs like Limelight, where they were almost at an interface with The Police.

Pink Floyd’s Meddle had a little influence on our album This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours [1998], and I’m a big fan of Russian Circles, Chicago Transit Authority and John McLaughlin – especially on Mahavishnu Orchestra’s The Inner Mounting Flame. And then there’s Man.

I was working as a barman in the Newbridge Miners Institute in the 80s and a version of Man played there, and I remember it being a big deal. I’d bought Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics [1974] and liked some of the songs, but I wasn’t sure.

Then a couple of years later I was flicking through the racks at HMV and saw the cover of The Welsh Connection [1976]. I thought it was maybe a compilation of obscure Welsh bands, then realised it was by Man, so I thought I’d give them another go. I took it home, put it on, and bam!

This album’s definitely a slam-dunk lost classic. It was their 11th, so they were way down the line, were never going to get any bigger at this point in historical terms, and they’d started steering away from the more blues-based stuff. It was the first record for a new label, MCA, so there was change in the air.

They had John McKenzie on bass, and he and drummer Terry Williams locked into something nimble and nuanced and absolutely gorgeous. The title track and Love Can Find A Way had lots of Steely Dan in it, big time, but this came out a year before Aja, so that’s a bit of a coup for Man!

The Ride And The View’s got more of a groovy, trippy, Little Feat vibe, and Something Is Happening is so beautiful – at one point it’s like Herbie Hancock, so articulate and dextrous. The whole album was a departure for them.

Man never quite hit the heights; I suppose they were almost too versatile. I like a lot of tracks from their other albums, but this is the one I put on and don’t take off.”

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.