Manfred Mann


Formed: 1963

Contribution to British Blues: Bigger than you think!

Which era: 1960's

Album to get: The Five Faces of Manfred Mann

The song that is perhaps the best example of their work: I'm Your Kingpin

Associated bands: The Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers, The Blues Brothers, Thunder Odin's Big Secret, The Roosters, The Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, McGuiness Flint, Manfred Mann Chapter III, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, The Blues Band, The Manfreds

Personnel: Manfred Mann, Mike Hugg, Mike Vickers, Tony Roberts, Don Fay, Ian Fenby, Dave Richmond, Paul Jones, Tom McGuinness, Jack Bruce, Lyn Dobson, Henry Lowther, Mike D'Abo, Klaus Voorman

Like their contemporaries The Graham Bond Organisation , Manfred Mann 's Rhythm & Blues displayed a strong Jazz influence. But unlike the GBO and many other Jazz-rooted R&B Bands of the ‘60s, The “Manfreds” showed a far shrewder grasp of what was required by the pop scene. In fact the band enjoyed so much chart success that their reputation as a pop group has often overshadowed their contribution to British Blues, a legacy not to be recovered until vocalist Paul Jones and guitarist Tom McGuinness returned to their Blues roots in the 80's with The Blues Band.

The seeds of Manfred Mann were planted when Johannesburg-born jazz pianist Manfred Lubowitz's unhappiness with South Africa 's apartheid policies motivated him to quit the country and take his talents to the UK . Here, he worked as a musician, music teacher, and journalist, and it was his writing for Jazz News that birthed the nom-de-plume “Manfred Manne” which was later to be applied to the whole band. While playing a season for Butlin's holiday camp in Clacton he met the man who was to become the band's other founder member, Mike Hugg .

Born Michael Hug in Gosport , Hampshire, Mike was fluent on drums, keyboards, and vibraphone. Then fronting a band on vibes, Mike booked Manfred to play piano for the season in Clacton , with Graham Bond sitting in on the nights Manfred couldn't appear . When the season was over, he teamed up with like-minded Manfred, to form the awkwardly-named Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers . For some time the band existed as an septet, featuring Manfred on keys and Mike on drums, with Dave Richmond on bass, and a four-piece horn section: Mike Vickers on alto, Tony Roberts on tenor, Don Fay on baritone and Ian Fenby on trumpet. After a while they dropped the cumbersome surnames, and became The Blues Brothers , long before Dan Akroyd and John Belushi made the term synonymous with dark glasses and pork pie hats, thus launching a thousand tribute bands. But more changes were still in the air.

In late 1962, and audition for vocalists brought the addition of singer and harmonicist Paul Jones as the band's much-needed “front man.” Paul, née Pond, had gained experience with his Oxford University band Thunder Odin's Big Secret and from accompanying budding Stone Brian “Elmo Lewis” Jones in the duo Elmo & Paul , and his charisma and enthusiasm for the Blues helped push the band's musical leanings even further towards R&B. For a time the band continued as an eight-piece, but by May 1963 the line-up had slimmed down to a quintet, retaining Mike Vickers on sax and flute and Dave Richmond on bass alongside Paul and the founder members.

Mike quickly added guitar to his list of accomplishments, and Blues standards like Smokestack Lighting and I Got My Mojo Working became a regular part of the repertoire at their gigs. In due course the group attracted the attention of publicist Kenneth Pitt, who became their manager, and arranged auditions for the band at Decca, Pye and EMI. They were successfully accepted and signed to EMI's HMV label, where producer John Burgess eventually persuaded the band to stop being The Blues Brothers and rename themselves as Manfred Mann , despite strenuous opposition from the name's rightful owner.

July 1963 saw the release of Manfred Mann 's first single, though quite why HMV should have chosen to release two instrumental sides from the band as their debut seems baffling now. Why Should We Not , with its tom-toms, maracas, and Gregorian Chant vocals, occupies similar territory to The Yardbirds' Hot House Of Omagararshid although the accent is on sax and organ rather than guitar. The B-side Bother Jack is a rather tedious re-working of the traditional “Frere Jacques.” Dormez-vous? I should say so! And the record-buying public largely agreed.

The band's second single outing, released later the same year, settled much more squarely into the R&B mold, with Paul's vocal and harmonica centre stage. The Bo-Diddley beat, piping organ and answering chants of Cock-a-Hoop bring to mind the sound of Newcastle's premier band The Animals, though to establish the group's multiple-personality identity, Jones points out that "there's one Manfred Mann but it's five men." The flip, Now You're Needing Me , is in the kind of cheery style normally associated with The Mersey Sound, only, like the GBO , the instrumentation is sax, organ & harmonica rather than jangling guitars. It's quite melodic in a bouncy way, but the record didn't generate a great deal more interest in the band.

But luck was just around the corner and in 1964 the band was asked to provide a theme tune for the new ITV pop programme Ready Steady G o ! With the wide and repeated exposure offered by weekly airings, the single, titled 5-4-3-2-1 , made its way steadily up to number 5 in the charts. Credited to Mann, Hugg & Jones , it was a frenetic semi-instrumental, with bags of harmonica and erudite lyrics about the Charge of the Light Brigade and the Wooden Horse of Troy (yeah, you don't get that in yer 21 st Century pop!) It also repeatedly reinforced the band's identity with the hook line, “Uh-huh, it was the Ma-a-an freds!” On the other side was Paul's solo composition, Without You , a mighty, meaty, Hoochie Coochie Man -styled hunk of R&B with wailing harp, gruff vocals and ultra-cool flute and vibes solos, all strongly reinforcing the group's Blues credentials.

The release of 5-4-3-2-1 also heralded the departure of bassist Dave Richmond , whose busier playing was finding less of an outlet in the stricter R&B format. In came Paul's old pal, guitarist Tom McGuinness , who'd played with him before in a nameless rehearsal band, and who, up to this point, had been keeping occasional company with a certain Eric Clapton in The Roosters. The Manfreds were looking for a bassist with a more economical approach, and let Tom join on the proviso that he'd promise to play simply. Tom, who had never played bass before, later said, “given my experience on bass guitar at that time, that was an extremely easy promise to keep!”

Tom recorded with the band on the next single, the group-penned Hubble, Bubble (Toil & Trouble) – complete with quasi-Shakespearean reference – which is very nearly 5-4-3-2-1 Mk.II . Driven by frantic rhythms and wailing harp, Paul tells a story of his meeting with a mysterious woman, could she be a witch? All he will confide, in hushed tones, is “I never met a girl who was so hubbly-bubbly!” On the flip is Jones/Mann 's Bluesily menacing I'm Your Kingpin , where Paul urges a girlfriend not to forget who's boss. The verses are interspersed with beautifully phrased, jazzy solos, first vibes, then sax, then piano, displaying the full extent of the group's instrumental prowess. In the same month, HMV cannily issued an EP (extended play) record, Manfred Mann's Cock-A-Hoop , re-releasing the previous single coupled with the first two A-sides.



Hubble Bubble reached a very respectable no. 11 in the UK charts, but it was the third 45 of '64 that made the band a household name. Brill Building composers Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich had written Do Wah Diddy for American vocal group The Exciters a year earlier, but it had made no impact in Britain . Manfred Mann added some kettle drums and an extra “Diddy,” and amazingly took the song to the top of the charts, in the UK , USA , and Canada . It was coupled with another Jones/Mann number, the punky What You Gonna Do . With snarling lyrics and stuttering organ solo, this wouldn't have seemed out of place from almost any American garage band of the day, and what it lacks in sophistication it more than makes up for in intensity, though it does make a rather strange bedfellow for the innocuous A-side.

After a brief tour of the States to capitalize on the single's success, The Manfreds returned home to release one more single in '64, and again it was a cover of a song by an American female vocal group that had flopped the first time round. This time the band took The Shirelles' Sha La La , switched the rhythm from a shuffle to an upbeat stomp, and bought themselves a no. 3 chart hit in the UK , also making no. 12 in the US . And for the first time in since their debut release, the flip side was also a cover, a version of the Leadbelly Folk/Blues standard, John Hardy with martial drums and the inevitable maracas. Though well performed, it possesses nothing like the power of the three previous Jones/Mann compositions, and seems a little “square” by comparison.

1964 also saw the release of the band's first LP (long player) The Five Faces of Manfred Mann. It contained the three previous excellent Jones/Mann B-Sides, three more new originals, and eight covers that ranged between Jazz, Blues, Soul and Rock'n'Roll, displaying the band's musicality and versatility. Of the originals, the finest is Paul Jones ' Don't Ask Me What I Say which comes from the same neighbourhood as Marvin Gaye's Can I Get A Witness but maintains its own identity with a strong hook and a convincing sax solo. Mike Vickers ' sax turns up trumps again on a cover of Cannonball Adderly's Sack O'Woe which allows the band to display some very creditable Jazz chops, and there's more fine playing from the ensemble on the boogie-woogie instrumental, Mr. Anello .

It's Gonna Work Out Fine drops Ike Turner's heavily tremolo-ed guitar riff and the question-and-answer vocals in favour of a smoother approach, and once again the lads plunder the American Soul charts for a cover of the Tams' Untie Me , which sits in the same groove as Arthur Alexander ballads like Anna and You Better Move On . There are several very acceptable Blues covers, including an enthusiastic I Got My Mojo Working , and a Smokestack Lightning which retains much of the loping beat and feel of the original. Powered by Jones' strong harp and vocals, it stands up very well against the better-known Yardbirds version, but for me the best of the bunch is Bring It To Jerome. The combo's performance is every bit as insistent and exciting as Bo's, and with only two chords on the piano, they completely transform the middle 8, giving this version much more Mann appeal!

The Five Faces showed surprising musical maturity and breadth of range, and consolidated the quintet's position in the UK by reaching no. 3 in the album charts. The band took a further opportunity to dip into their Blues book with their next EP release, Groovin' With Manfred Mann . The title track, Groovin' , written by Ben E. King and James Bethea, kicks off at a lively pace with a Ray Charles feel, and features some hot piano and cool vibes. Mike Vickers ' guitar is somewhat tepid by comparison, though as he allegedly learned to play the instrument in only a fortnight, after he joined the band, perhaps that's unsurprising. The same song was later adopted as an anthem by heavy rockers Led Zeppelin, though in radically dissimilar style. The two new Paul Jones compositions here are equally grounded in R&B, and I Can't Believe It follows the same pattern as Howlin' Wolf's 44 , featuring good organ and harp work and some Little Richard-ish falsetto. With harmonica to the fore again, Did You Have To Do That is a pleasing slow blues around an unusual 8-bar sequence with an amusing hook, pushed along by some nice rolling electric piano, and the disc is completed by a reprise of Do Wah Diddy Diddy.

The quintet's formula of picking out overlooked American Soul songs continued to serve them for the first single of 1965, Come Tomorrow . On their cover of this tuneful 1961 Okeh release from Marie Knight, the band manages to equal the orchestral power of the original, with tasteful flute from Mike Vickers and dramatic piano work from Manfred Mann himself, producing a surprisingly sophisticated and polished piece of pop. On the flip is What Did I Do Wrong , a warm and relaxed 12-bar penned by Tom McGuiness . It begins in a conventional Chicago Blues style, featuring reedy organ and sparse but effective guitar work, while occasional voices interject in the background. As the song progresses, vibraphone and saxophone solos shift the style more towards Jazz, and the voices in the background build to a cacophony of echoing laughter as the track fades. One might almost suspect that recreational substances had had some influence here, but for the fact that the band always managed to avoid the kind of scandals that surrounded many of their contemporaries.

The single reached a respectable no. 4 in the UK charts and paved the way for the follow-up, another cover of an American Soul record that Britain had ignored. Maxine Brown's release of the Goffin-King title Oh No, Not My Baby on Pye had passed UK record-buyers by unnoticed at the end of '64, so Manfred Mann were able to bring it back to the public's attention by picking up the its pace a little, throwing in some vibes, and letting Paul Jones ' mellow tones carry the tune to number 11. On the flip was Mike Hugg 's composition What Am I Doing Wrong , which fades in to a Bossa-Nova beat. Paul indulges in some passionate soul-searching as he paves the way for expressive solos from sax and organ, in a stripped-down session that features none of the band's usual overdubbing. For the very first time, the record label actually stated “Vocal by Paul Jones” as if the five-in-one identity of Manfred Mann had started to of hamper individual recognition.

But if Paul was feeling any frustration at being an anonymous one-fifth of “The Manfreds,” he managed to find the funny side of it when composing the title track for their next EP, The One In The Middle . Ostensibly written for the Yardbirds but turned down by Keith Relf, this tongue-in-cheek bit of boogie name-checks all the band members but points out the vocalist as “just a pretty face” whose sole function is to attract the crowd by “looking sweet.” The sleeve notes tell that Paul objected to being given separate credit from the band, but the record label inside still reads, “MANFRED MANN featuring Paul Jones,” so some signs of conflict were still evident. Also included was a vocal version of Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man , and the ballad What Am I To Do , a Spector/Pomus song recorded back in '61 by the Paris Sisters. The disc is probably most notable for the group's first Bob Dylan cover, With God On Our Side . Accompanied primarily by piano, Paul gives a compelling vocal performance, and the stark arrangement creates a dramatic setting for the controversial lyric.

The year also saw the release of their second Long Player, Mann Made , and The Blues made a few strong impressions on this album too. There's a smooth cover of T-Bone Walker's Stormy Monday with rolling piano and wailing harp, and a punchy version of Robert Parker's Watch Your Step that has a mean Hammond solo. Tom McGuiness ' LSD is about money rather than the popular but illegal ‘60's drug, and the framework is very similar to Willie Cobb's You Don't Love Me, featuring an extended harmonica work-out reminiscent of Keith Relf's work with The Yardbirds. There's a little bit of Soul too, in the shape of the Temptations' The Way You Do The Things You Do and Garnet Mimms' ballad I'll Make It Up To You. Jazz is well represented by two originals, Mike Vickers ' Abominable Snowmann and Mike Hugg 's Bare Hugg, both cool, sophisticated, overdubbed instrumentals displaying the group's considerable musical abilities, which seem to epitomise the “Swinging Sixties” style. There's no Rock'n'Roll, though, and instead the focus for the rest of the album seems to be on Paul Jones' vocal versatility, with covers as diverse as Eddy Arnold's You Don't Know Me , the Skyliners' Since I Don't Have You , and Deutsch and Kaper's cheesy Hi Lili, Hi Lo , later to be a hit, in a very similar arrangement, for The Alan Price Set.

Overall, Mann Made seems to show a little less musical unity than the first album, perhaps reflecting tensions within the band, as the end of 1965 would see Mike Vickers quitting to concentrate on composing, arranging, and producing. Paul Jones would also soon be announcing his intention to leave and pursue a solo career, although he volunteered to stay on until a suitable replacement was found. In the meantime, the year was to see one more UK EP, No Living Without Loving , which seemed to reflect some of the coming changes by listing the title track There's No Living Without Your Loving as “Vocal: Paul Jones with the Three Bells; Orchestra arranged and conducted by Mike Vickers,” although the rest of the band still seem to be evident on this Gene Pitney cover.

Acerbic stream-of-consciousness sleeve notes by Tom McGuiness suggest just how delightful it wasn't, to be a charting pop group in the swinging sixties, and the mood of rebellion is reflected in the powerful Jones original, Tired Of Trying, Bored With Lying, Scared Of Dying . “Why bother? What's the incentive to try?” pouts a punkish Paul, as he recites a list of all the bugbears and bogey-men that fill him with confusion and uncertainty. Angry guitar sounds and thundering drums invite comparisons with The Who, whose My Generation LP was released around the same time, and this hard-rocking protest song is easily one of the band's finest moments.

So too is their atmospheric cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' I Put A Spell On You , which, with thoughtful use of dynamics and a delicious double-tracked sax solo from Mike Vickers, owes more to Nina Simone's cool interpretation than the histrionic original. The EP is completed by Let's Go Get Stoned , a Coasters song also covered by Ray Charles, whose version seems to have been the influence on Manfred's tasteful piano phrasing and Mike's excellent drumming. Paul Jones ' vocals are confident and mature throughout, and the disc held the no.1 spot in the UK EP charts for seven weeks.

The final single of '65 was the group's second Bob Dylan cover, If You Gotta Go, Go Now , telling a girl that she'd better decide whether or not she's going to “stay all night.” Bright and catchy, with a mildly suggestive lyric that suited the cheeky persona of “the one in the middle,” it romped its way up to no. 2 in the charts, and even managed to squeeze in a 3-bar harmonica solo. On the other side was Mike Vickers ' light and brassy Stay Around , encouraging a lady to linger until her transgressions are forgotten, and the label credits returned to the simple “MANFRED MANN.”

Once again a New Year brought a new beginning for the band as Mike Vickers left, allowing Tom McGuinness to step up to the guitar spot, and they were able to lure ex GBO bassist Jack Bruce away from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to fill the vacancy. A horn section of Lyn Dobson (sax/flute) and Henry Lowther (trumpet) was grafted on, and a series of interesting recordings followed, spearheaded by Pretty Flamingo , the band's first no.1 single since Do Wah Diddy Diddy . Written by Mark Barkan, later to be musical director for The Banana Splits, and initially recorded by Gene Pitney, this gently-paced tale of an objet d'amour is driven along by the appealing clang of Tom's resonator, and underpinned by Bruce's minimalist bass, while Lyn Dobson provides a brief but attractive flute solo. On the other side is the striking You're Standing By , a McGuinness composition which features Bruce on cello. Staccato brass and syncopated tom-toms punctuate the verse, as Paul sings of his gladness for the girl who hung around even when he put her down.

Released in the same month was the Machines EP. Illustrated by Dystopian sleeve notes from Tom McGuiness , songwriter Mort Shuman's title track paints a picture of robotic revolt, with brass and organ combining in harsh, dissonant stabs and Bruce's bass plonking mechanically over a backing track of ticking clockworks and grinding gears. Paul Jones ' jaunty She Needs Company is the tale of a cougar and a gigolo with hope for a happy ending, and the band's cover of the Everly Brothers' When Will I Be Loved is taken at a similar tempo, both songs bringing organ and brass to the fore, and straying into the kind of Urban R&B/ Northern Soul territory occupied by acts like Georgie Fame and Zoot Money. The gaiety of Tennessee Waltz, recorded in homage to Sam Cooke's version, sounds perhaps a little out-of-place here , but notwithstanding, the disc still managed one week at no.1 in the EP charts, though despite the extended line-up, the cover photo featured only the foursome of Mann, Hugg, McGuinness and Jones .

In June of the same year, with Bruce, Lowther and Dobson still on board, the band released an EP of Modern Jazz/Pop Fusion titled Instrumental Asylum . A work of unexpected imagination and musical complexity, it consisted of re-arrangements of four previous chart hits- The Yardbirds' Still I'm Sad , The Who's My Generation , The Stones' Satisfaction , and Sonny & Cher's I Got You Babe – as hard driving Jazz instrumentals with blaring brass and organ, propelled by the highly inventive bass work of Jack Bruce . Melody Maker declared it “possibly the finest recording made by the Manfreds so far” and although it was a wild divergence from their usual style, it still made it to no. 3 in the EP charts. Unfortunately Bruce was never happy with the rest of the band's musical output. Having reputedly learned their set without rehearsal, in the space of the first gig, he felt there were was nothing left to challenge him, and was soon tempted away to form Cream with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker .

Somewhere in the middle of 1966, Paul Jones officially quit the group, staying with EMI to pursue a solo career as a singer and actor, having some success with the singles High Time and I've Been A Bad, Bad Boy and playing a pop singer in the movie Privilege . EMI dropped the band, but with A Band Of Angels vocalist Mike D'Abo as their new front man and Klaus Voorman on bass, they signed to Fontana , where their first release was another excellent Dylan cover, Just Like A Woman , which took them to no. 10 in the charts. But the story of Manfred Mann and Paul Jones wasn't quite over yet.

While the reformed Manfred Mann was still recording with their new producer, Kinks and Who veteran Shel Talmy, EMI released a single from previously recorded out-takes, featuring the Paul Jones line-up. On the A-side was the smooth and sophisticated Soul of You Gave Me Somebody To Love , first cut by USA vocal group The Dreamlovers. At EMI's request, Mike Vickers had overdubbed orchestra and backing vocalists to the original Manfreds tapes, and received the arranger's credit. On the B-side was that much-covered Coasters classic Poison Ivy , almost a prerequisite for all British Beat & Blues groups in the sixties. This version is great deal better than some, and though it loses the “boing” before the chorus, it adds an organ solo over the middle 8, while Paul begs “scratch my back!” Shades of Slim Harpo! However, the disc was probably a disappointment for EMI, only reaching no. 36 in the UK charts.

At the end of '66, after the band's first hit for Fontana with Mike D'Abo , EMI issued one more EP's worth of material from Manfred Mann with Paul Jones , under the title As Was . Their version of Ike & Tina Turner's I Can't Believe What You Say trades the “uh-huh's” for rather less successful “la-la's” and includes a bridge sequence which, puzzlingly, doesn't exist in the original. The Mann/Hugg/Jones composition It's Getting Late takes the band back into Urban R&B territory with its tight, punchy brass and confident guitar break, making Yours Truly suspicious that this (and perhaps other tracks?) was recorded by the later line-up of the band and not the original quintet.

The Barry/Greenwich song That's All I Ever Want From You Baby, formerly recorded by Mike Berry of The Outlaws , is given something of a Stax/Atlantic treatment with sweet horns and a beautiful, brief organ solo. But the high point of the EP is the band's stunning re-arrangement of Max Roach's Driva Man , marrying the acapella chant that introduces the original instrumental to a 5/4 version of the Help Me/Green Onions riff. Blasting brass accompanies swirling organ, the dynamics are powerful and dramatic, and Paul's emotive vocals even include a very accurate recreation of the Mighty Wolf's trademark howl. If you want to consider Manfred Mann 's contribution to British Blues, then moments like these are the ones to remember then by, for sadly once Paul Jones left the band, Manfred Mann 's connection with R&B was diluted and eventually lost.

If you'd like to investigate Paul Jones' continuing involvement with The Blues you can listen to his programme every Monday evening on Radio 2 , or visit his website at: , where you'll find news about his current albums and tour dates for both The Manfreds and The Blues Band .


With thanks to Paul Jones for his kind assistance in my research

©Stevie King 2013