Various Artists: Man Chest Hair (Finders Keepers)
CD/DL/LP
3rd December 2012

Ever wondered what Led Zeppelin, Free or Deep Purple would have sounded like if they started out in Manchester? No, me neither, but, they might have sounded like this album according to Paul Scott-Bates.

An album containing 18 tracks of “hard rock, hairy funk and heavy prog” from Manchester’s unknown groups of the 1970’s, this isn’t really my cup of tea but despite that I genuinely enjoyed its rawness, power, and, at times, general silliness.  Mostly consisting of previously unreleased tracks, it’s actually rather entertaining,

At a time when Manchester is again becoming the musical capital of Britain, this collection comes to you rain-soaked with a passion for music and motorbike helmets long before the city invented Indie music and Madchester.

It kicks off with Good Lovin’ Woman, a song that reminds me of loads of other stuff that I just can’t pinpoint. Oscar’s vocals have been freshly treated with coarse sandpaper, with a really catchy backing and an unexpected saxophone solo over a thumping bass. Any group that calls itself Urbane Gorilla is ok by me. Ten Days Gone boasts an Ian Gillan wannabe, more throbbing guitars and a drum that sounds like it’s fighting to get out of a broom cupboard with the assistance of symbols a plenty.

 

Any group that calls itself Stackwaddy is ok by me. Hunt The Stag exclaims “I got pork chops, I got meat pie, I got lots of sausage too. Aah”. Life oop North.

Any group that calls itself Greasy Bear is ok by me.  Hang on, haven’t I been here before?  Yep, and there’s loads more too – Slipped Disc, Savoury Duck, Grisby Dike, Spider Jive, they’re all here. You get the message. Yes, this album contains tracks 40 years old from a genre that is often dissed and frowned upon but, as with all music, you’ve got to give it at least one listen. If you’re like me, you might well be pleasantly surprised.

Plasma are featured twice, once with Seven Stairs and once with Hazel Time. Both are instrumentals and very good ones at that. Imagine 70’s TV police car chase and you won’t go far wrong. There’s a funky (yes, funky) little number courtesy of the aforementioned Slipped Disc in the shape of Come On In – a really catchy song, with a great rousing chorus.

Highlight of the album for me is Crocadilla by Spider Jive which has vocals more reminiscent of Donovan and King Dick II from The Way We Live with a T. Rex style guitar riff. (What happened to King Dick 1?). The album ends with Get Away by Chris Statham,  again another of those tunes that could well have appeared on TOTP in the 70s – fast, loud and pacey chorus.

In summing up, despite my reservations, a really entertaining collection. Well worth a listen, if nothing else to hear some of the bizarre lyrics from my Northern descendants.  I’m off to grow my beard.

All words by Paul Scott Bates. More work by Paul on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is Heaven Is A Place On Pendle. Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.

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