❉ While the Man legacy casts a long shadow, this is a twenty-first century rock album through and through!
“You can tell this is the work of a band who have gelled and are firing on all cylinders… This is a fantastic record, and one that you will keep returning to, and getting something different from with each listen.”
Founded by former Man members George Jones (son of the late, great, Man founder Micky Jones) and Bob Richards on drums and vocals, Son Of Man are joined by Marco James on keyboards, Glenn Quinn on guitars, bass and vocals and Richie Galloni on lead vocals on this, their second album, following up their debut self-titled album released back in 2016.
Originally started as project to honour George’s father Micky and his musical legacy, having honed their craft and worked together they have become a tight musical unit, and this is a suitable and timely follow up. State of Dystopia was, I am sure not planned by the band on being the soundtrack to a genuine state of dystopia, but that’s where we are now, and as lockdown albums go, there’s far worse ones to listen to.
They do say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and George is carrying on his father’s musical legacy, as his guitar is in fine form throughout this album, and the Welsh connection is continued with a Micky Jones/Deke Leonard unrecorded demo Conscience, was given to the band by Deke to complete, and it fits both his and Micky’s memory superbly.
George once told this reviewer, “Some people inherit jewellery, I’ve inherited Micky’s songs, and my inheritance is keeping them alive”, and while the Man legacy casts a long shadow, this doesn’t mean Son of Man are rooted in the past. They take the rock roots that Man came from, and put a contemporary twist on the sound, as this is a twenty-first century rock album through and through.
The Man DNA and legacy is well served by George and Bob, and whilst there is still an active line-up of Man, rather than seeing it as a competition, from a fan’s perspective it’s the same as Wishbone Ash, and Martin Turner or Ian Anderson and the Martin Barre Band, in that you’ve got two top quality musical line-ups playing different era songs from a long legacy.
The beauty of Son of Man is not just are they performing classic Man songs live, but George and band are building their own musical legacy with some mighty fine song writing on here.
From the striking artwork (and a stunning new band logo), the brilliant back cover showing the band on stage in front of an admiring crowd, this 11-track album is as they say, all killer and no filler.
From the opening riff of Conscience Son of Man set their stall out straight away; a mix of classic riffing and contemporary rock sound. The crunchy guitar and the way George and Glenn bounce of each other, and Marco’s Hammond flitting between them, is one hell of a way to open an album.
It certainly grabs your attention, and the following tracks make sure that your attention doesn’t wander.
This continues in gusto with the riff-heavy Feeding Time, which has more of those crunchy guitars. the pace relaxes a little bit more on the folk blues of Bring Out the Best In Me, with some wonderfully warm and smoky vocals from Richie, and some superb harmony backing vocals, whilst the symphonic sound of Marco’s keyboards really add to the sound and feel of the song.
Glenn Quinn, as well as being a fine and versatile musician on here, also has some great song-writing chops on him, and the three songs he contributes as sole writer (When it Falls Apart, Auto Devotion and New Beginning) are all mighty fine tracks, with the driving rock of Auto Devotion matched by the duelling guitars and the powerful vocals of Richie – and of course the drumming of Bob Richards, which anchors so many of these songs.
Having worked the boards and toured and performed together for a long time, the musical bond between them all is obvious on this record, and whilst I am sure it’s taken a lot of hard work, Son of Man make performing music of this calibre seem effortless.
On so many tracks the band find such a groove and everyone hits the same sweet spot that as a listener it sucks you in and your tapping your foot and singing along.
In fact, the band is blessed with a number of songwriters, from Marco James’ synth/rock-driven One With the Voice (conjuring elements of 90125-era Yes with its harmonies, sharp riffs and shimmering synths) and George Jones, whose contributions can stand shoulder to shoulder with those of his dad, especially the fantastic Reign of Yesterday with its sublime guitar lines, and brilliant vocals from Richie.
As an album overall, this is a strong piece of work throughout, and the biggest vibe I’m getting is collaboration. The mix of songwriters and ideas keeps each track fresh and original, whilst the guitar work and vocal harmonies really add so much to an already strong set of songs.
You can tell this is the work of a band who have gelled and are firing on all cylinders, map primed and heading in the same direction. This is a fantastic record, and one that you will keep returning to, and getting something different from with each listen.
Far from being a slave to the Man legacy, Son of Man have embraced their roots, and branched out in their own unique direction, and this album is a testament to their strengths and skills.
❉ Son of Man: ‘State of Dystopia’ (EANTCD1083) is available for pre-order now via Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red Records Esoteric Antenna, RRP £10.95. Available with limited edition signed postcard while stocks last.
❉ James R. Turner is a music and media journalist. Over the last 25 years he has contributed to the Classic Rock Society magazine, BBC online, Albion Online, The Digital Fix, DPRP, Progarchy, ProgRadar and more. James’ debut book is out in September and he is head of PR for Bad Elephant Music. He lives in North Somerset with his fiancee Charlotte, their Westie Dilys & Ridgeback Freja, three cats and too many CDs, records & Blu-Rays.