Mansun - Kleptomania
Kleptomania is the sum total of 9 years of long hard work from the once great, now split, Chester based band Mansun. The Three CDs in the set are something quite special, consisting of not only the much wanted 4th Album Sessions (Kleptomania), which includes both tracks used on the very last Mansun single, but also fan-voted b-sides and EP only tracks, while the final CD has a collection of Demos and Unreleased tracks hand plucked by lead singer Paul Draper.
The first thing that strikes me is just how well packaged this set is. Encased in a clear PVC outer layer casing which slides off to reveal the high quality feeling fold out case. The Kleptomania scrawl continues from the front of the case to the innards and compliments the black/grey matt effect CDs therein.
CD1 Kleptomania – Unreleased album.
The first track on the previously ‘lost’ fourth album is Getting your way, which happens to be the second track on the single release previous to this album. I suspect this was also one of the first tracks to be written at the time as it has that certain sound the band were going for post Little Kix. The second track is Slipping away, the A-side of the last single by the band, a laid back, relaxed affair with that certain Mansun grittiness that the band were always trademark of. As stated in the review of the single it’s an amazing start to the album as it was the single.
Keep telling myself is a prime example of a lighter Mansun song, free of grit, instead packed full of Dominic Chad’s trademark backing licks and Drapers excellent vocal work. Harris is an acoustic track, which has a very loose folk type sound to it, something i'd not have thought to hear by Mansun.
Love Remains is a typical Mansun track, with an excellent guitar riff near the end of the song, but it’s a very average track all in all (although, after the first three songs on this album any track would seemingly look average). Cry 2 my face is another return to the acoustic styling of Harris two tracks previous, building up later on in the track to a great Solo by Chad.
Next up is No Signal/No Complaints a track which could have easily been on Little Kix, as It has a meandering quality to it, with a dash of eeriness to the backing vocals. Home opens up very reminiscent of the mid to late 90s Britpop and indie scene Mansun were so heavily involved in, as it sounds very much like early Mansun. Fragile is another low tempo track with some great guitar work by Chad again, and an ominous chorus, Wanted so much reverts back to the fast paced raw Mansun from Six. The final track on the album Good Intentions Heal the soul is a more relaxed, laid back affair which has a great section of rhythmic guitar work and piano nearing the end, followed by a slow fade out to perfectly end this stunning piece of ‘lost’ work. However... it isn’t quite over yet. 21:18 minutes into the final track there is a mystic sounding track (called 'The Dog From Two Doors Down' by The Nurk Twins), sounding awfully like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame. If you thought the ‘last’ track on the album was a great way to finish off the album, make sure you use the scan command on the CD player to listen to this stunner. Hats off to Paul Draper for taking the time to get this much wanted album together for the first time.
CD2 Non-Album Singles, B-Sides and EP tracks
The second CD in the set is a special one for the fans, as they were the ones who voted as to what should be included on the CD, the resulting collection of songs is quite an amazing one and worthy of an album release in its own right. Obviously the first track on the CD has to be Take it easy chicken Mansun’s very first record release. The following 14 tracks are that of utter quality, ranging from the superb everyone must win to the amazingly skilled guitar work shown on been here before and iconic fan favourite flourella. There are a few classics which seem to have been overlooked however, like Gods of not very much and maybe the inclusion of Take it easy chicken [live] as opposed to the studio version. However it’s still a very good and well compiled collection of B-sides, which is a joy to listen to as some of Mansun’s greatest tracks have been on the flipside of the singles.
CD3 Rarities, Demos And Unreleased Tracks
The third and final CD in the collection is devoted to the rarities, demos and unreleased tracks that Paul Draper has collected together and made worthy quality wise, for this set. Stand out tracks on this CD include I Can Only Disappoint U [Home Demo], which sounds quite stunning, if not a little faster, its already one of (if not the) best tracks from Little Kix, but this home demo gives a little bit of insight into the original ideas behind it. Secrets, a live favourite and certainly one of the higher tempo Mansun songs about gets its inclusion, and finally Shot by both sides, which was the only Mansun cover song, recorded for John Peel's Radio 1 sessions and played on the live tour of 2001.
All in all this final CD is a pretty nice collection of songs you probably haven’t heard in such a raw format, as well as a couple of gems you probably won’t have heard at all. Although probably the weakest of the 3 CDs in terms of re-listenability due the majority of them being Demos and obviously hardly produced.
As an added bonus however, there are three (yes three!!) hidden tracks on this CD. On the Taxlo$$ (Live) track scan to: 11:44 for an operatic style affair named 'Witness to an opera', 16:59 for a special version of Theif (taken from 1EP) and an extremely odd instrumental version of Wide Open Space sounding as if it was created on an Amiga from 21:57 to the end of the track. (Stupid Open Space)
Overall, this is an amazing set not only to look at but to listen to as well. The quality of the packaging is superb and the music therein is top notch. A definite must for all fans of Mansun and a great package for people who like any amount of indie from the mid-90s to the present day.
(Thanks to Dave Nattriss at Mansun.net for the hidden track name on CD1)