Three-hour epic tells the Man story...
Welsh rockers Man must be one of the few bands outside of the Grateful Dead who have enjoyed such a long and well chronicled career. And the fact that much of the band's history has been compiled retrospectively as is the case in this excellent well researched DVD, makes 'God Walking Past' such an essential purchase. And as the Man band celebrates its 40th year under the stewardship of George Jones (Mick's son) and veteran member, bass playing raconteur Martin Ace, 'God Walking Past' is the perfect introduction to the band's initial career circa 1968-1971.
Curiously, given the time context of the DVD (but certainly of equal interest), there is some additional tour footage, interviews and a separate 'fly on the wall' doc by the bands drummer Bob Richards.
So although this three part insert isn't strictly part of the project's remit, it offers a sense of continuity. Ironically of course, at the point of the DVD's release even this footage is already 9 years old. But I di gress, Effigy films have spent the last few years painstakingly researching and gathering archive material and cleverly interspersing it with both old, rescued and borrowed, and contemporary footage.
The latter comprises a decades worth's of filming that they have done themselves. Certainly the snappy editing, the pointed interviews - full of the droll, the poignant, the humorous, the plain daft and the stoned - are never anything less than very interesting, with original band member Clive John adding surprisingly clear reminiscences.
Deke Leonard meanwhile adds his own inimitable take on events, and Martin Ace contributes the kind of dark double edged irony that he often brings to his stage performances. Sadly there are not too many interviews with Micky Jones who is now sadly indisposed, but there's certainly plenty of superb footage of his mesmerising guitar playing.
In fact some way into the film (this three hour plus DVD is both so good that it really does feel like a film), there's a lovely segue from some early Man band archive to the current band in Germany. It's a lovely edit any director would have been proud of.
Former Wild Turkey and some time Man guitarist Tweke Lewis ('Back into the Future' sides 3 and 4) pops up intermittently to add lovely bits of continuity, explaining a few riffs, and offering his insight into what being in the Man Band was really like 'I learned to roll a lot of joints'!
Deke mentions the title of his second book, 'Maybe I Should Have Stayed in Bed', in the context of the band's unlikely French hit with the heavy breathing 'Erotica' in 1969. He comes out with the immortal line that Man 'predated 'J'Taime' by about 2 years and therefore brought sex to France'!
The other recurring conceptual continuity link is the number of times, someone says 'we were living/touring in Germany' and perhaps it's only right that much of the best footage comes from there. For a film dealing with the first three years of the Man's career, this DVD goes way beyond its original remit to include 2007 footage of the current band at the Cambridge Rock festival and other venues. But overall 'God Walking Past' is one of the best and most interesting rock documentaries to hit the market for years and is worth buying whether you love the band or are just a general rock fan.
Review by Peter Feenstra