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Deke Leonard: Reissues

70s solo excursions from the man from Man.

Taking a two-year sabbatical from Man in 1972, albeit an initially enforced one, freed up Leonard to bring a far more eclectic set of material to the table. Out went the extended jams and meandering workouts, replaced by a cohesive yet diverse collection of concise 70s rock, rootsy R&B and pop-informed acoustic whimsy.

1973’s Iceberg (810) is marginally the stronger of the pair, crisply produced and a genuinely undervalued gem. Razorblade And Rattlesnake neatly reworks The Allman Brothers’ Whipping Post riff into Hot Rats-era Zappa-esqe shape, shot through with a touch of that peculiarly English Canterbury-scene vibe.

The Atlantic-rippling influence of The Band is also within earshot, most notably on Jesse and Lisa, fine cuts of superior Americana both. The more straightforward blues of I Just Can’t Win and Ten Thousand Takers sit relatively staidly alongside the more progressive The Ghost Of Musket Flat and future Man staple 7171 551, but add scope to a broad and accomplished palette.

The following year’s Kamikaze (710), again variously staffed by Man evergreens Martin Ace and Terry Williams plus fellow Llanelli guitarist Brian Breeze, ploughed a similar furrow, bringing Leonard his first solo charting. The peaks are impressive: Stacia (a chiming twin guitar paean to the sometime Hawkwind dancer) and Broken Glass And Limejuice (finely crafted nostalgia) are particularly strong, and Leonard’s pervading sense of fun is present throughout./o:p