Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1973)
- Roger Arrnold "Deke" Leonard (RIP 2017) -- vocals, guitar,
slide guitar, keyboards, harmonium
supporting musicians: (1973)
- George Ace -- backing vocals
- Martin Ace -- bass, backing vocals
- Beau Adams -- drums
- Bryon Berline -- fiddle
- Paul Burton -- bass, vocals
- Dave Charles -- drums, backing vocals
- Ralph Down -- electronics
- Crosby Eicher -- vocals,
- Mark Gibbons -- drums
- Malcolm Morley -- guitar, backing vocals
- Dave Phillips -- violin
- Tommy Riley -- drums
- The Bystanders
- The Force
- The Tyla Gang
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: United Artists
Country/State: Llanelli, South Wales
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve
Catalog ID: --
Deke Leonard's on-and-off relationship with the band Man came to an off-ramp in 1972 when he was fired by the rest of the band. As recommended by A&R man Andrew Lauder, United Artists kept him on the corporate payroll. After a brief stint with the band Help Yourself, Leonard was signed as a solo act, UA banking the release of 1973's "Iceberg".
With Leonard handling most of the production work, the recording sessions stretched over a twenty month period. Tim Boyle and Dave Edmunds were brought in separately to handle a couple of tracks. With Leonard responsible for most of the twelve tracks musically the album marked a major departure from the Man school of progressive rock. In its place Leonard focused his attention on blues-rock moves and as exemplified by the single 'A Hard Way To Live' even took a couple of stabs at rockabilly. Admittedly I'm not a big blues-rock fan so tunes like 'Diamond Road', 'Ten Thousand Takers' and 'Razorblade And Rattlesnake' didn't do a great deal for me. Leonard's nasally voice was an acquired taste and though the material showcased his impressive Telecaster moves, those blues-rock numbers all suffered from a sense of familiarity. That meant atypical numbers like the Dave Edmunds produced rockabilly 'A Hard Way To Live', the Americana- styled 'Lisa' and the Badfinger-esque 'Nothing Is Happening' were the tunes that attracted my attention.
For hardcore fans the US and UK versions of the album feature different running orders.
Given an opportunity to tour in support of the album Leonard recruited a back-up band dubbed "Iceberg". The original line-up featured former Help Yourself bassist Paul Burton (he'd played on the "Iceberg" album), drummer Keith Hodge and guitarist Brian Breeze.
"Iceberg" track listing:
1.) Diamond Road (Deke Leonard) - 3:40 rating: *** stars
'Diamond Road' opened the album with a convention slice of boogie-blues. Standard woman and bar fight lyrics. The only thing worth the effort was checking out Leonard's Telecaster moves. I know blues-rock is popular, but I've always wondered why United Artists released the track as a promo 45 in the States:
- 1973's 'Diamond Road' b/w 'Turning In Circles' (United Artists catalog number UA-XW125-W) Not sure when or where it was recorded, but YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the tune for what appears to be a comatose television audiance at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KzRErtbAgA
2.) Ten Thousand Takers (Deke Leonard) - 2:55 rating: *** stars
The bluesy 'Ten Thousand Takers' showcased Leonard's impressive slide guitar moves. Otherwise the tune was pretty pedestrian.
3.) Lisa (Deke Leonard) - 3:48 rating: **** stars
With an assist from Bryon Berline on fiddle, 'Lisa' shifted gears, Leonard delving into folk and Americana. Since I'm not a big blues fan, this one was a much appreciate change of pace. With a pretty melody and thought-provoking lyric, it's always reminded me of something out of The Band catalog.
4.) Looking For A Man (Deke Leonard) - 3:40 rating: **** stars
Finally a track that played to Leonard's strengths - a straight-head rocker. 'Looking for a Man' had it all - great rocking melody; plenty of Leonard's snaky Telecaster and a nice Leonard vocal.
5.) Razorblade And Rattlesnake (Deke Leonard) - 6:00 rating: *** stars
Even if you aren't a guitar fan, 'Razorblade And Rattlesnake' was worth hearing. Yeah, Leonard's voice had a strange twang to it, but this blues-rocker was taunt and commercial at the same time. And Leonard's Telecaster moves were dazzling. Quicksilver Messenger Service subsequently covered the song.
6.) A Hard Way To Live (Deke Leonard) - 3:15 rating: **** stars
Funny, every time I hear 'A Hard Way To Live' I have to remind myself this isn't a Dave Edmunds track. Not only does the vocal sound like Edmunds, but the bouncy melody had that Edmunds sound. 'Course that might have something to do with the fact Edmunds produced it. Great choice for the leadoff single:
- 1973's 'A Hard Way To Live' b/w 'Hard Way To Live' (United Artists catalog number UA-XW359-W )
1.) Broken Ovation (Deke Leonard) - 5:27 rating: **** stars
One of the album's most commercial efforts, 'Broken Ovation' was a driving rocker that should have given group's like Slade and Sweet a run for their money on the UK charts.
2.) Jesse (Deke Leonard) - 3:55 rating: ** stars
'Jesse' found Leonard returning to Band-styled Americana. While the song was pretty enough, it was a poor fit for Leonard's fragile voice. Even the addition of backing vocalists couldn't hide the fact Leonard sounded uncomfortable on this one.
3.) Nothing Is Happening (Deke Leonard - Martin Ace) - 4:30 rating: **** stars
Prior to being fired from Man, the band had undertaken a short tour with Badfinger. That seems to be the explanation for Badfinger's Mark Gibbons guesting on the album. It also seems to explain why 'Nothing Is Happening' sounded very much like a Badfinger tune. Opening up with some Spanish-flavored acoustic guitar the song sported the album's prettiest melody. Complete with bell guitar sound effects and a martial beat the song could have been a hit.
4.) The Ghost Of Musket Flat (instrumental) (Deke Leonard - Martin Ace - Tony Williams - Micky Jones - Dave Philips) - 3:00 rating: **** stars
Co-written with a number of his Man band mates the instrumental 'The Ghost Of Musket Flat' sported what sounded like a classical structure. Leonard's "bell" guitar sound made me think of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells". Truly strange, it fascinating.
5.) Crosby (Second Class Citizen Blues) (instrumental) (Deke Leonard - Crosby Eichler) - 1:53 rating: ** stars
Opening up with growling dog sound effects and electronic noodling, the instrumental 'Crosby (Second Class Citizen Blues)' could have been pulled off an early-'70s Krautrock album. The album's most experimental tune, it was a little too eccletic for my tastes.
6.) 7171 551 (Deke Leonard) - 5:29 rating: **** stars
I read online where the title was inspired by Michael Nesmith's personal phone number. Leonard eventually decided that wasn't a great idea and dropped the full ten digit sequence for the abbreviated '7171 551', but not before United Artists had pressed and released the first batch of albums. That might explain why my copy has a foil sticker over the track listing. Regardless of the privacy concerns, the song was one of the album's best rockers, showcasing some blazing Leonard fretwork. (The song was retooled as an extended West Coast jam and included on Man's 1976 LP "Maximum Darkness".)
Leonard died of heart failure in January 2017. There's a nice Leonard website at: http://dekeleonard.com/
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