Manfred Mann

TrackAlbum / EP / Single
It's Gonna Work Out FineThe Five Faces Of Manfred Mann
Watermelon ManThe BBC Sessions
Do Wah Diddy DiddyHMV POP 1320
If You Gotta Go, Go NowHMV POP 1466
Pretty FlamingoHMV POP 1523
I Got You BabeInstrumental Asylum EP
Just Like A WomanFontana TF 730
The Mighty QuinnFontana TF 897
My Name Is JackFontana TF 943
Fox On The RunFontana TF 985

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Contributor: Peter Viney

Manfred Mann didn’t have enough American hits in the 60s, thus undermining their massive influence.

There are four phases. I’m only treating the first two. When Manfred Mann disbanded the group entirely, there was a pause, then he formed Manfred Mann Chapter Three, which later became Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. I think Chapter Three/The Earth Band are so different in line up that it’s a different Toppermost. Record Collector’s Rare Record Guide agrees … they have three different entries. “The Manfreds” still touring regularly have most of the chaper one /chapter two band, but no Manfred Mann, and sound like the originals.

The first two are the sixties band. In retrospect, they called CDs Chapter One and Chapter Two. Chapter One had Paul Jones as lead singer, Tom McGuinness or Jack Bruce on bass guitar and recorded for HMV. When Paul Jones decided to go solo, HMV stuck with him and dropped the rest of the band. Tom McGuinness had moved to guitar, and Klaus Voorman came in on bass guitar and flute. More importantly, they recruited Mike D’Abo from A Band of Angels as the new lead singer. They considered Rod Stewart and Steve Marriott, then Manfred Mann heard A Band of Angels record and went to see Mike D’Abo accompanying himself on piano in Chelsea. Smarting no doubt from their rejection by HMV, they signed to Fontana, and continued to prosper seamlessly.

I saw them with Paul Jones, then I saw what was probably their first gig with Mike D’Abo. In recent years I’ve seen The Manfreds with both Paul Jones and Mike D’Abo together. And I’ve seen them with just Paul Jones. They both have distinctive voices, but they can do each other’s songs perfectly (even better with both). It’s weird. Watching Paul Jones do Just Like A Woman and The Mighty Quinn you think, just like the originals. But Mike d’Abo sang on the originals.

The band came from the Portsmouth area and I saw them very early – around the Cock-A-Hoop point. At that time, Manfred Mann had a short late night series on the old Southern TV station telling listeners about R&B and the blues, then demonstrating. It was a preface to Paul Jones’ current role as the DJ for Radio 2’s blues show. I never missed an episode and remember him explaining and demonstrating Smokestack Lightning, Hoochie Coochie Man and other classics. It was massively important for musicians and fans all along the South Coast.

Manfred Mann were also accomplished musicians to a man. Or Mann. Their first single in 1963 was Why Should We Not, and is best described as instrumental soul jazz, as is the B-side. Their breakthrough moment was 5-4-3-2-1 which became the theme to Ready Steady Go! the most important TV show of the sixties.

The original albums have not been well served by CD reissues, with compilations dominating. However, there is now a five pack budget box with the four HMV albums, plus the Paul Jones album. There’s also a box set of CD versions of their seven EPs. They were EP specialists (as were Cliff Richard and The Shadows). Of the 28 tracks, 23 were neither singles nor LP tracks, which must be unique. As a result they topped the EP chart three times. My favourite EP is The One In The Middle.

The Selections:

It’s Gonna Work Out Fine. The Five Faces Of Manfred Mann LP is one of the gems of its era. Beware that the American release with the same title is a totally different album, mainly compiling early hits. You have to have the UK original. It puts together those R&B classics showcased on their Southern Television show … Smokestack Lightning, Hoochie Coochie Man, Got My Mojo Working, Bring It To Jerome, Down The Road Apiece. It also proves those soul-jazz instrumental abilities with a fine Sack O’ Woe, just listen to the vibes work. Among all these is It’s Gonna Work Out Fine in a brilliant version … in 2003 they were still doing it live with Paul Jones duetting with P.P. Arnold. The original was Ike and Tina Turner. Among all the blues and soul-jazz, they had a penchant for covers of girls’ songs, and always did them well … Sha La La (The Shirelles), Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Oh, No Not My Baby (Maxine Brown). They also covered Ike and Tina’s I Can’t Believe What You Say on the later As Was album.

Watermelon Man. This originally came from The One In The Middle EP, which entered the singles chart and was a Top Ten hit. The 1962 Herbie Hancock tune was redone in a Latin version by Mongo Santamaria, then had words added by Jon Hendricks. Manfred Mann are covering the Jon Hendricks cover. The result is no Latin percussion, a bass that sounds like a Cannonball Adderley number and a great vocal from Paul Jones. The solo sax is from Mike Vickers. Check out the live on air version from The BBC Sessions CD, recorded on their first BBC radio session in October 1964 for Saturday Swings. The relaxed live version is better for me. Compare. Enjoy deciding. The One In The Middle EP also includes the Paul Jones composed title track … it was written for The Yardbirds, plus What Am I To Do, and the first of their Dylan covers, With God On Our Side. The early verses of With God On Our Side are just Paul Jones plus piano, then very gradually a military rhythm comes in on snare drum, then drums fill out. Bass appears. The piano and voice takes the song back to gospel in a way the original hadn’t. It is a powerful rethink of a major Dylan song. Paul Jones changes “the country I come from is called the Mid-West” to “the country I come from is part of the free West.” Slightly clumsy. According to the notes on the back, Dylan had seen them and liked them early on.

If you investigate The BBC Sessions CD, Parchman Farm is just Paul Jones. Vocal + harmonica. A lot of people used to do that in folk clubs in that era. Unaccompanied voice and harmonica interludes. As his radio show proves when he sits in with blues artists, he is an incredible harmonica player.

Do Wah Diddy Diddy. Their biggest hit, #1 in the UK and USA, covering The Exciters 1963 song. I wouldn’t say it’s better than The Exciters, but it’s definitely as good, and Paul Jones’ signature voice always adds a dimension. They followed it with Sha La La, which was too obviously similar.

Their other US hit was My Little Red Book from What’s New Pussycat, unreleased in Britain until the modern compilations. Love did a later and better-known version.

If You Gotta Go, Go Now. Their major claim is as Dylan interpreters. They had started with With God On Our Side on EP, then went on to do killer-versions of If You Gotta Go, Just Like A Woman and The Mighty Quinn. If You Gotta Go was the first most people heard of this Dylan song. The original was so obscure that it was wrongly slipped onto early Dylan bootlegs as if from the basement tapes era. It was an outtake from Bringing It All Back Home and had been released as a single in the USA by “The Liverpool Five” who of course came from London. But hey, they’re both in England after all. Dylan’s own version didn’t appear until 1967, as a single only issued in the Netherlands and France. It’s one of Dylan’s catchiest pieces, and the line “Or else you gotta stay all night” was risqué for radio. Tom McGuinness says: Manfred and I were watching Bob Dylan on TV. It was just him and his acoustic guitar, on the BBC. He sang that, and it wasn’t on any album. Manfred and I looked at each other and thought this was something we could do. Our manager was Dylan’s publicist, so within a few days we had this acetate of him singing it. A week or two later we recorded it. And if it wasn’t for Tears by Ken Dodd, it would have been number one!

What they did was bring in that insistent guitar phrase, and embellish the hook.

Mike Vickers (guitar and sax) had departed in 1965, and Tom McGuinness moved to guitar (his original instrument) and they recruited Jack Bruce on bass. The last of their three number one EPs was Machines. Only four of them appear on the sleeve, but I suspect this is Jack Bruce on bass. The percussion on the track Machines is extraordinary and the song nearly made the list. The cocktail bar jazzed up Tennessee Waltz is an oddity, but the Everly Brothers When Will I Be Loved has great bass and horns, and it’s surprising how easily they “possess” the song and impose their style on it.

I Got You Babe. They next went for an instrumental EP Instrumental Asylum with temporary members Lyn Dobson (sax) and Henry Lowther (trumpet). This consisted of instrumental versions of hits: Still I’m Sad, My Generation, Satisfaction and I Got You Babe. The 1966 EP is in the soul-jazz groove. Satisfaction, with its odd distantly-shouted bits sounds like Roland Kirk. On all four tracks, Jack Bruce is truly outstanding on bass guitar. I chose I Got You Babe for the bass guitar and horns. It wouldn’t have been in a couple of weeks ago, but the passing of Jack Bruce had me listening to it a lot and instrumental is an aspect of the band. In an interview with Paul Jones, Jack Bruce said he was paid £30 as arranger for the EP. He had assumed that joining Manfred Mann would make him a millionaire. It didn’t, but Cream was just around the corner. I Got You Babe has nudged out their first instrumental single, Why Should We Not. The LP Soul Of Mann took the four Instrumental Asylum tracks, and put them with other instrumentals stretching across their career, and you can find Why Should We Not on there too.

In the Fontana era, they repeated the process with the Shel Talmy produced Instrumental Assassination EP (Sunny, Wild Thing, Get Away, With A Girl Like You). So two Troggs hits, two Georgie Fame hits. It was released in December 1966 so was between Paul Jones and Mike D’Abo, and before finally recruiting Klaus Voorman, so they imported Dave Richmond on double bass though Voorman added recorder.

It’s also what Manfred Mann (the person) has done with his 2014 album, Lone Arranger this time with songs like We Will Rock You, Nothing Compares 2U and Light My Fire.

Pretty Flamingo. The sound of 1966 for me. A UK #1 too, though less successful elsewhere. It summed up the “pre-1967” growing mood. With The Rolling Stones Paint It Black at the same time, there were John The Baptist hints of the Summer of Love in the song. Her hair glows like the sun and her eyes can light the sky were taken as innocent, though a year later it would have been psych. It came from mainstream commercial songwriter Mark Barkan (so it was innocent), and allegedly it was intended for The Drifters. This was recorded in the era when Jack Bruce was bass guitarist, so is his biggest British single hit. It was my then girlfriend’s favourite song, one where the auto-changer arm got lifted on the Dansette to allow it to replay again and again. Bruce Springsteen is fond of performing it live, possibly in gratitude for Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s hit version of his Blinded By The Light.

Just Like A Woman. Enter Mike D’Abo. Just Like A Woman was their Fontana debut. I thought three Dylan covers was excessive, and have spent the last week listening to their LPs planning to replace it with something a little novel or surprising. But in the end, it’s in every Manfred Mann playlist I’ve ever assembled. The band had three areas of expertise: hit singles, soul-jazz and R&B. But their greatest quality was creating hit singles. Jonathan King covered Just Like A Woman too, and got all the airplay, but in spite of that, quality will out and Manfred Mann got the hit. Blonde On Blonde is my favourite Dylan album. Just Like A Woman is one of the best performances on there. Manfred Mann make no attempt to copy Dylan’s arrangement … listen to the acoustic guitar, bass and drums. Add the backing vocal and organ. They do it in 2 minutes 50 seconds instead of 4 minutes 50 seconds too. At the front, Mike D’Abo does a relaxed take on the words. It’s expert popularizing. Dylan for the Top Ten.

They had a good run after that with Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James, Sweet Pea and Ha! Ha! Said The Clown. Sweet Pea was an instrumental send-up of the Tommy Roe song, but actually the Tommy Roe original sounds like Manfred Mann at that time. They should probably have done it straight as a vocal.

Throughout their career, Manfred Mann relied on covers for A-sides, seeming insecure about songwriting ability. It’s odd as Mike Hugg went onto a significant writing career in advertising. Their second album, Mann Made, had songs by each of them, except Manfred himself. It’s not a great album though, the stand out track being Robert Parker’s Watch Your Step.

Mike D’Abo is a significant songwriter who they failed to utilise sufficiently. In 1967 he was off producing his Handbags And Gladrags for Chris Farlowe at Immediate Records, and Manfred Mann should have grabbed the song and done it as an A-side. A version is on The Evolution Of Mann CD set, listed as a ‘previously-unreleased Mike D’Abo recording’. I suspect it’s later – the copyright line is 2002 (which is the date of the CD so does not tell you when it was recorded). It needed the raucous voice of Chris Farlowe, then Rod Stewart perhaps.

The Mighty Quinn. Such was their known uncanny ability to find and enhance the hook in Dylan songs, that they were given first pick of the basement tapes acetate in the UK, and chose The Mighty Quinn. They were dubious about their version, but Mike D’Abo played it to a record executive on a deck that was spinning too fast. He loved it, so they sped up their version a semi-tone. The Mighty Quinn appears on the Mighty Garvey! album, unusually for them centred on two hits, the other being Ha! Ha! Said The Clown. Much of the rest is their own material, with Mike Hugg playing harpsichord as well as drums and percussion and Mike D’Abo adding piano. Six songs are D’Abo compositions, four more are by Mike Hugg. Mighty Garvey! has shades of The Village Green Preservation Society and adds whimsical Goonish cover notes by Tom McGuinness, who was very much the spokesman. The Vicar’s Daughter is a sweet poppy Mike D’Abo song, and possibly he plays piano too. It’s a lovely song, but sounds nothing like Manfred Mann.

The band stuck with the basement tapes. Mojo magazine said: As the guitarist with Manfred Mann, Tom McGuinness had paid several visits to Dylan’s UK publishers and come away with mouth-watering unreleased songs. Long after the band split, he had continued to be passed acetates and cassettes.

Manfred Mann also later covered Please, Mrs Henry as a B-side. Later, Coulson, Dean, McGuinness, Flint recorded Lo And Behold, perhaps the best ever album of straight Dylan covers, fascinating because at the time, most of the originals for this mix of early Dylan with basement tapes songs had not been officially released.

My Name Is Jack. Albert Grossman, manager of both Bob Dylan and The Band, liked Manfred Mann so much (they were earning him money) they were invited to see a preview of the Peter Yarrow film You Are What You Eat. McGuinness recalls: We were invited by Albert Grossman to see a screening of the Peter Yarrow film, You Are What You Eat. Which we thought was awful – definitely a period piece. But at the end we said there is one good song. That song was John Simon’s idiosyncratic My Name Is Jack.

On the TV mimed version they look a bit too flowery poppy in Dave Dee mode, but that is the song, and the lyrics are flower power anyway … the Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Boys and Girls was the nickname of the seedy San Francisco hotel where parts of the movie were filmed.

Fox On The Run. According to Mike D’Abo, it’s Manfred’s favourite record of all their recordings. Tom McGuinness says of Fox On The Run: We changed it around quite a lot. We couldn’t make it work without shifting keys. The Band’s “The Weight” was an especially big influence on us. The “like a fox, like a fox … on the run” lines were meant to sound like “take a load off Fanny – and put the load right on me”. It was written by Tony Hazzard, who had also written Ha! Ha! Said The Clown for them.

The Official Manfreds Website

Paul Jones official website

Mike d’Abo official website

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band official website

Peter Viney reviews The Manfreds live in 2003

Peter Viney reviews The Manfreds live in 2011

Manfred Mann biography (iTunes)

TopperPost #379

7 Comments

  1. Simon Sadler
    Nov 8, 2014

    A fascinating read about one of my favourite 60s bands. I hadn’t realised the Drifters connection to Pretty Flamingo, but I can totally imagine them singing it. And I’ve always loved their version of With God On Our Side. In fact, it’s one of my favourite covers of any song. Nobody interprets Dylan better than Manfred Mann for me. I also think Earth Band were one of the most underrated of 70s rock bands. Maybe they weren’t heavy enough for the heavy boys, not proggy enough for the prog boys. Another potential future top 10 there…

  2. Jerry Tenenbaum
    Nov 9, 2014

    “Manfred Sepse Lubowitz: born Johannesburg Oct. 1940: Lubowitz studied music at the University of the Witwatersrand, and worked as a jazz pianist at a number of clubs in Johannesburg. Between 1959 and 1961 he and his childhood friend Saul Ozynski recorded two albums as the Vikings – South Africa’s first rock and roll band.” — Something to think about… S.A.’s FIRST rock and roll band. I agree with everything that has been said. He moved to the UK soon after. I love MM interpretations of Dylan’s work and thought ‘Blinded’ was superb.

    • Ilkka Jauramo
      Nov 9, 2014

      Thinking about Manfred Mann’s background, which Mr. Tenenbaum kindly posted here earlier, it might be strange that for me Manfred Mann is “Kindergarten Pop”. If you are not familiar whith this genre I’d like to launch it right here and now. For instance so called Swedish Music Wonder – beginning with ABBA and represented today by Avicii – beginns in this heavily underrated genre. The older I get the more I like it! Manfred Mann – dividing his time between London and my Swedish home community – spoke about his feelings on raising kids in the local newspaper the other week. Wise words (or was it only because I share his thoughts?). He looks like a friendly and cool troll in an average children’s book so I’ll wait for Chapter Four: an album for children. To continue on this track I’d like to add my favourite to the list: ‘So Long Dad’.

  3. Ilkka Jauramo
    Jul 29, 2017

    Having the great pleasure to see Mr. Mann from time to time in my Swedish hometown or in Denmark – mostly gazing to the sea in the harbor – I can’t help but ask: where is the British blues in Toppermost. British blues in the sixties was enjoyable, groovy, easy-listening and it meant a lot here in Scandinavian countries. Many musicians – amateur and professionals – discovered the “real” blues and even the jazz like myself. John Mayall not in Toppermost. It is a shame! (Agreed. Ed.)

    • David Lewis
      Aug 1, 2017

      Might I humbly suggest my toppermosts, which have included The Yardbirds, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Jack Bruce. Rob Millis did an excellent one on Cream. So the english blues are here – more is always appreciated, at least by me. 🙂

      • Ilkka Jauramo
        Aug 6, 2017

        Hats off to David Lewis (and Peter Viney and others) for contributing on British blues in this site! I have read them all and even posted a comment or two. I shoud have known better. After all, British blues is underrated.

  4. Dave Stephens
    Jul 30, 2017

    Very good point Ilkka. And Mayall is not the only one who’s overdue a Toppermost.

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