There were three phases to Manfred Mann's career - the mid sixties with Paul Jones as lead singer, the late sixties with Mike D'Abo as lead singer and the stuff they did after the sixties as Manfred Mann's Earth Band. This compilation covers the first two of those phases and is the best single CD collection of their sixties music.
Back in the sixties, Manfred Mann had many hits in Britain although not many of them charted in America. Do wah diddy diddy (first recorded by the Exciters who only had a minor American hit with it) was a number one in both countries.
Their music was generally upbeat good-time music and could be described as a cross between R+B and mainstream pop. Given that, it may seem surprising that they covered several songs by folk-rocker Bob Dylan but the combination worked well and no doubt helped to build Dylan's reputation as a great songwriter. Manfred Mann took Mighty Quinn to the very top of the British charts and had other top ten UK hits with Dylan's songs, including If you gotta go go now and Just like a woman.
Of the other songs, Pretty flamingo was yet another British chart-topper and Oh no not my baby was originally an American hit for the under-appreciated Maxine Brown. Other songs that I particularly like include 54321, Come tomorrow, My name is Jack, Ha ha said the clown, Ragamuffin man and Fox on the run.
There are plenty of Manfred Mann compilations to choose from but this one has all the songs that matter from the sixties.
Manfred Mann were one of the most popular groups of the mid-sixties, arriving on the scene a little after the Beatles, Hollies, Stones, Brian Poole & the Tremeloes, and the other trailblazers had got going. They had three number one hits - three more than many an equally famous band including, surprisingly, The Who and Cream.
All their hits and more are here, from the great (Pretty Flamingo, Come Tomorrow, Mighty Quinn, If You Gotta Go, Ha! Ha! Said the Clown) to the good (54321, Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Oh No Not My Baby, Just Like a Woman, Fox on the Run, My Name is Jack) to the somewhat forgettable (Sha La La, Hubble Bubble, You Gave Me Somebody to Love, and the tediously Kinks-lite Semi-Detached, Suburban Mr James).
They were a strange band in that they obviously had an r'n'b sensibility, yet only about half their hits - and all but two reached the Top 20, many the top 10 - were of that kind while the other half were pure pop, whether sung by bluesy, boyishly enthusiastic Paul Jones or his successor, the slightly more intensely soulful Mike D'Abo.
This comprehensive compilation has 22 tracks, in non-chronological order, something in its favour. I daresay some would prefer to hear them in the order in which they were released, though I can't really see why since this way you get the two singers' voices juxtaposed, which is more interesting to hear.
One of my very favourite singles of the sixties is Pretty Flamingo, by the rather obscure Mark Barkan (from 1966, in the Paul Jones years) and a later favourite is Ha! Ha! Said the Clown (from 1967 after D'Abo had taken over vocal duties.) The excellent song Come Tomorrow has always been one I've remembered and loved too, sung well by Jones.
They were never as confrontational as the Stones, Animals or Pretty Things, or quite as consistent or long-lasting as the Searchers or Hollies, but they definitely made their mark, and along the way gave us the occasional classic track.
A word for Manfred Mann himself, born in South Africa in 1940, and founder member of SA's first ever rock band: he was a tasteful organist and bearded backbone of this likable pop/rock group, and listening to these tracks again, one can hear how vital he was to their overall appeal.
The sound and the packaging on this 1993 compilation are adequate, the music is varied and often inspired.
When we look back on the sixties and recall the groups and their music
we often overlook many, the first groups that spring to mind of course
'The Beatles' and 'The Stones'
However there was many groups such as 'Manfred Mann' that had a big
and genuine impact on the charts back then,
They exploded onto the scene in 1964 with '5-4-3-2-1' a great sixties track
that peaked at number '5' between 1964-1969 they actually achieved '15'
Top 30 entries, '13' of which were Top 10 entries three of which topped
the U.K chart, those being 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy' 'Pretty Flamingo' and
Some of the other memorable tracks on board include ...'If You Go Gotta Go,
Go Now'...'My Name is Jack'....'I Put a Spell On You'....'Ha!Ha! Said The Clown'
'Hubble Bubble' (Toil and Trouble) and 'Fox on The Run'
There are notably one or two 'Bob Dylan' covers on-board which both charted for the
group including 'Mighty Quinn' and 'Just Like A Woman' both a more than
credible version of the great-song writer's numbers.
There are of course many other of their hits included on this 22-track album.
Of course, with one or two new faces the group became 'Manfred Mann's
Earthband' in the late sixties into the seventies achieving many more Chart-Hits.
This is a great reflection of the groups achievements during the Sixties Era, and
obviously worth adding to your collection.
on 10 August 2014
I went to see the Manfreds recently, and they were brilliant, Paul Jones voice sounds just as good as it ever was and he is now 72 . I bought the CD as I couldn't get the songs out of my head, it has all there hits on it and is great value for the price, If you loved the group back in the day then you will love this cd
on 1 July 2014
This album does pretty much what it says on the tin; 16 of the 22 tracks are Top 40 hit singles (only the instrumental 'Sweet Pea' is absent) with the emphasis very much on the period from 1964 to mid-1966 when Paul Jones was the featured vocalist and 2 of the group's 3 Number One hits arrived ['Do Wah Diddy Diddy' and 'Pretty Flamingo']. When Jones left to pursue solo projects, the little known Mike D'Abo joined the fold for the period mid-1966 to 1969 and the hits kept flowing with 'Mighty Quinn' completing the hat-trick of chart toppers.
If you like R&B flavoured pop music of the 1960s, then I can guarantee that you will like this collection. In order to acquire more of the latter period featuring the 'poppier' vocal style of Mike D'Abo, then I can heartily recommend 'The Very Best of the Fontana Years' - an interesting album which I have reviewed in full elsewhere.
The majority of these hits were made to be heard in Mono. Pushing them out in Stereo stands in danger of diluting them to the point where they aren't as good. Many 60s bands have suffered this (the Hollies back catalogue of hits an outstanding example - their singles albums are a disgrace to EMI) and so it is with a few of the tracks here. "Come Tomorrow" the track I was really wanting to get (since I already have most of the others) turns out to be Stereo.
Great great hits, but if they were hits in the days of Mono, probably best to leave them that way.