Rare Man is one of those compilations that, expanded to a box set, would be drawing down plaudits from every corner, but which, condensed onto a single disc, merely leaves you feeling hungry. There can, of course, be no complaints whatsoever over the album's contents; it's the omissions that drive the collector crazy. The album is divided into two basic parts: nine songs cherry-picking the band's early- to mid-'70s peak and ten celebrating the Jones, Leonard, Ace, and Weathers lineup of the 1980s -- a period that was largely overlooked at the time, but is well represented here by such oddities as a Martin Ace solo single, an obscure German 45, and a quartet of 1984 outtakes. The real meat, however, comes with the earlier material. Beginning with the two-part "Bananas" that made it out on a 1976 U.K. EP three years after it was recorded live at the London Roundhouse, the set follows through with two outtakes from the same period -- including one, "I'm Dreaming," that reappears among a quartet of 1974 outtakes as "Breaking Up Once Again." Two Deke Leonard/Iceberg tracks follow -- the 1976 B-side "I'm a Love Taker" that was credited at the time to Man themselves, and "Someone Is Calling," another 1976 piece that later appeared on Leonard's Unfinished Business cassette. So, it's a mixed bag, all the more so since "Bananas" alone truly hints at the improvisational heights for which Man are best remembered. But still, some vital holes are plugged in the history and, once again, if this was simply one bit of a box set, listeners would probably be celebrating for the rest of the week.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson