Guide to British Music of the 1960s

April 2019

CD Review: Manfred Mann - Radio Days Volume 1 The Paul Jones Era 1964-1966

 

There are real gems in the BBC vaults and now Manfred Mann is benefiting from the release of these wonderful "live" sessions. The BBC recorded bands in a live context for broadcast on the Light Programme on shows such as Saturday Club. The shows would also be released on vinyl as "Top of the Pops" with interviews, usually by Brian Matthew, for sale to radio stations in the US and Europe. Unfortunately at the time, tape was expensive and the BBC did not see any need to archive the sessions and so many recordings have been lost over the years.

Manfred Mann is covered in four 2CD volumes, the first two relating to tracks recorded during the 1960s. These are split between the Paul Jones and Mike D'Abo line-ups.

The BBC sessions have a mix of singles, album tracks and others that appear on these CDs only. The tracks are augmented with interviews with band members. These are excellent as they help to place the sessions in a time context - "this is the new single" - but they also highlight the innocence of the time. Cue a discussion about fresh fruit salad in America! There is plenty of humour with discussions about who was the band's leader. The humour is also evident in tracks such as The One in the Middle and Long Hair Unsquare Dude Called Jack, the latter featuring some amazing bass playing from Jack Bruce.

Although Manfred Mann was largely reliant on other writers for their hit singles, the group members also wrote. Paul Jones was fairly prolific and Look Away is a stand out track here as is Tired of Trying, Bored With Lying, Scared of Dying. Another Jones track is the humorous The One in the Middle which was originally written for Keith Relf but it is well-suited to the Manfreds and to Jones in particular as they joke in one of the interviews. Better Be Sure is an R&B track penned by Jones and it features his amazing blues harp playing.

There are some great blues classics in this set from Watch Your Step to I Put a Spell on You. Paul Jones provides a solo interpretation of Parchman Farm, a song that will be familiar to those who have John Mayall's Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton (The Beano album). However, Manfred Mann would cover a number of different musical styles from the more traditional jazz and blues to pure pop and even covering the Everly Brothers and the Yardbirds. Both When Will I Be Loved and Still I'm Sad are very different to the original versions.

The singles take on a new life when performed in this "live" context. The second version of Sha La La from Saturday Club, in particular, is very powerful with amazing Jack Bruce bass playing shining through. Dylan's If You Gotta Go, Go Now also benefits greatly from being played live, showing just how good the instrumentation is as well as Jones' voice.

The band underwent a change in its line-up during the course of these sessions. Guitarist/saxophonist Mike Vickers left, Tom McGuinness switched to guitar, Jack Bruce joined on bass from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers while a brass section was added with Henry Lowther on trumpet and Lyn Dobson on tenor sax and flute. Vickers had been discussed as temporarily absent due to writing a film score but Mann later confirmed it was permanent. Jones' departure to become a solo artist was alluded to later in the sessions.

Alongside the two CDs there is a booklet with excellent notes about the sessions, highlighting what is no longer available in the archives as well as the different personnel changes and group dynamics.

CD Release: 10 May 2019

Umbrella RADCD1

Essential Tracks

  • Look Away
  • If You Gotta Go, Go Now
  • Sha La La (second version)
Track Listing

Disc One

  1. Groovin'
  2. Band Interview
  3. Watermelon Man
  4. Sha La La
  5. Band Interview
  6. I Need You
  7. Come Tomorrow
  8. Look Away
  9. LSD
  10. Manfred Mann & Tom McGuinness Interview
  11. Oh No Not My Baby
  12. That's The Way I Feel
  13. The Abominable Snowman
  14. Manfred Mann & Paul Jones Interview
  15. The One in the Middle
  16. Parchman Farm (Paul Jones Solo)
  17. What Am I To You
  18. I Put a Spell on You
  19. Manfred Mann Interview
  20. If You Gotta Go, Go Now
  21. Watch Your Step

Disc Two

  1. It Took a Little While
  2. Manfred Mann Interview
  3. There's No Living Without Your Loving
  4. Spirit Feel
  5. Tired of Trying, Bored With Lying, Scared of Dying
  6. When Will I Be Loved
  7. Still I'm Sad
  8. Manfred Mann Interview
  9. Pretty Flamingo
  10. Machines
  11. Long Hair Unsquare Dude Called Jack
  12. Paul Jones Interview
  13. You Better Be Sure
  14. Sha La La
  15. Mike Vickers Interview
  16. Come Tomorrow
  17. Groovin'
  18. Watermelon Man
  19. Oh No Not My Baby
  20. When Will I Be Loved

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