the classics – mansun

It’s been a while since I posted a classics feature. So many bands that have come and gone that left an indelible imprint of my musical upbringing and for that I simply cannot thank them enough. One such band was Chester, England’s Mansun. Named after A Man Called Sun, a b-side by the one and only Verve, Mansun formed in 1995 and hit the ground running with early singles such as Take It Easy Chicken, Skin Up Pin Up and Stripper Vicar. Parlphone/EMI were smitten over the band and it wasn’t long before the foursome comprised of Paul Draper (vocals, guitar), Dominic Chad (guitar, backing vox), Stove King (bass) and Andie Rathbone (drums) became part of the post-Britpop landscape. 

1997 would bring about the release of Attack Of The Grey Lantern, the band’s debut record, most successful and arguably their finest hour. It was their first and only UK Number One record and included their biggest hit Wide Open Space. A fine slice of brilliance that simmers and explodes just like any pop song worth its salt will do. The single made a brief dent across the pond Stateside while being placed on medium rotation on MTV. The record itself was a wonderful blend of Aladdin Sane-era Bowie, a bit of Suede and a dollop of new wave.  It was a crowning achievement indeed and the band was truly in the ascendant. The band would also make an appearance on the Blade soundtrack with a blistering remix of Skin Up Pin Up done by Manchester dance pioneers 808 State. 

 

A banner year in 1997 gave way to 1998 and another record, Six. A shift in direction from its predecessor found the band venturing into longer songs and the record reflecting a bit more of a thematic quality than AOTGL. The record peaked at #6 in the UK but didn’t even register a second look in the US charts. Personally I thought this was due to a botch job by Epic resulting in a release date six months following the UK, a horrible artwork change and a needless revision of the tracklisting. The songs found herein were less immediate as a whole, a lot more adventurous which quute possibly left a lot of fans a bit puzzled upon its release. There were nuggets to be found here that definitely help to recommend Six including the singles Six, Being A Girl, and my personal favourite, the immaculate Legacy

 

Sadly came the year 2000…and Little Kix, the final Mansun record. The record eschewed Six’s prog sound and took on a more commercial, more blue-eyed soul direction. Leadoff single I Can Only Disappoint You gave us a preview of the new direction with a stirring effect. Gentle, melodic, more sparse but still retaining the qualities that made Mansun a band still on the rise but alas pressure from the record company resulting in Draper’s removal from the producer’s chair, forced revisions of song lyrics and singles to be released that were meant to be album tracks all took their toll on the band like they do so many others leading to squabbles within the band. None of this helped the record any as it peaked at #12 in the UK, their lowest placing yet and the album did not bother the charts very long after its release. 

Tensions finally came to a head in 2003 and the band dissolved their union. A rabid fanbase left heartbroken and it’s safe to say they left a small mark in the UK landscape yet were capable of much, much more. In 2004, after successful petitioning by the fans (yours truly included), Parlophone would release Kleptomania which was to be the band’s fourth record. It became a box set including the songs that were to be on the record, a compilation of non-album singles and rarities.  

Today, Paul Draper is still making music and is reported to be working on a solo record. Very little is known about the exploits of the remaining band members. Here is one humble blogger’s hope that one day the four will find a way to shake off the animosity that halted their friendship and reunite and finish what they started and should have achieved. The band simply had the goods.

 

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