Manfred Mann - Second incarnation with vocalist Mike d'Abo. After this it would be The Earth Band - but until then . . .

Manfred Mann In Session – 1967 – Past Daily Soundbooth

Manfred Mann – Second incarnation with vocalist Mike d’Abo. After this it would be The Earth Band – but until then . . .

Manfred Mann – in session for Top Of The Pops – BBC Light Programme – March-May 1967 – BBC Radio –

Manfred Mann tonight. In session for Brian Mathew and the radio version of Top Of The Pops with sessions recorded between March and May 1967.

This was the second incarnation of Manfred Mann, featuring Mike d’Abo on vocals, replacing Paul Jones who had left to pursue a solo career. New vocalist and new label. Leaving EMI for Fontana and a new producer (Shel Talmy) and a decidedly different direction for the band with the introduction of the Mellotron and a less bluesy sound than the band had during their earlier years. Probably most significant was one of their biggest singles, The Mighty Quinn, which is featured during a May session.

Their first Fontana single, a version of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman”, released in July, scraped into the UK top ten and reached number one in Sweden. Their new long-player, As Is, followed in October; the group’s increased studio technique sidelined their jazz, soul and blues roots. The next two singles, “Semi-Detached, Suburban Mr James” and “Ha Ha Said The Clown”, both reached the Top 5. Another EP set of instrumentals, Instrumental Assassination, was released in December. This featured original member Dave Richmond on double bass, but not Mike d’Abo, suggesting the sessions dated from a little earlier in 1966.

An instrumental version of Tommy Roe’s “Sweet Pea” only reached No. 36 when issued as a single, and the follow-up, Randy Newman’s “So Long, Dad”, with its intricate keyboard arrangement, missed the top twenty altogether. Thus, 1967 was for the group largely an unsuccessful year in the charts, besides “Ha Ha Said The Clown” which reached the UK singles chart early in 1967. There was no album, as Mann and Hugg explored other avenues of their career, although their record company did compile the UK budget-priced album What A Mann (Fontana SFL 13003), a predominantly instrumental set gathering together a few recent singles’ A-sides, B-sides, and instrumental EP tracks.

The following year 1968 brought two albums, the Mann–Hugg soundtrack to the film Up the Junction in February, from which an edited title track coupled with the rare B-side “Sleepy Hollow” was issued as an unsuccessful UK single; and Mighty Garvey! in July. Manfred Mann had a resounding success with “Mighty Quinn”, their third UK No. 1 and third hit Dylan song, which also peaked at No. 3 in Canada and No. 10 in the US.

In June 1968, the following single, John Simon’s “My Name is Jack”, was recalled when the US company Mercury Records complained about the phrase “Super Spade” in the lyrics, which referred to a Haight-Ashbury drug dealer. The release was delayed by a week until the offending name was re-recorded as “Superman”, but the UK hit single version retained the original lyric. Their December 1968 release, “Fox on the Run”, reached No. 5 in the UK.

Frustrated with the limitations and image of being seen purely as a hit singles band (their last two albums failed to chart), the group split in 1969. They would later resurface as Manfred Mann Chapter Three before emerging once again as Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – and it’s stayed that way mostly ever since.

But here’s a reminder what they sounded like during the Mike d’Abo/Fontana years with this series of sessions produced from March to May 1967 for Brian Mathew and Top Of The Pops.

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