Guide to British Music of the 1960s

September 2023

CD Review: Manfred Mann - Hits from the Sixties

Manfred Mann released a string of classic hit singles during the 1960s. While the LPs were more diverse from the jazz and R&B style of the early days to a more experimental approach, the singles released during this period kept the chart compiler busy.

Manfred Mann's chart career is divided into two distinct parts. The earlier tracks feature Paul Jones as the lead vocalist. When he left the group he was replaced by Mike D'Abo while guitarist Mike Vickers left and bass player Tom McGuiness moved to guitar. Two replacement bass players were Jack Bruce and, later, Klaus Voormann.

Despite having strong songwriters in the group, many of the biggest hits came from other writers, notably Bob Dylan who contributed three hits for the band. One of the best known group compositions was 5-4-3-2-1 which was written as the theme tune for TV's Ready Steady Go. The follow-up Hubble Bubble (Toil & Trouble) was also a band composition but there was pressure from the record company to use established songwriters. Do Wah Diddy Diddy was written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich and this established the band in the charts with its catchy chorus. Cover versions of lesser-known US songs followed before the band discovered Bob Dylan. If You Gotta Go, Go Now is the stand-out track in this set with its excellent arrangement showcasing all of the musicians in the band.

A track which was not a single but worthy of inclusion due to its tongue-in-cheek fun nature is The One in the Middle. At times when audience attention was almost exclusively focused on the lead singer, Paul Jones, the singer in the middle looking sweet, made fun of this. However, the subject of the song was more like Keith Relf of the Yardbirds. The Yardbirds turned down the track but it remains a great curio. Ironically, the Yardbirds later covered Ha! Ha! Said the Clown.

When Paul Jones left to pursue a solo career, he was replaced by Mike D'Abo. Jones had been a major draw for the group so it could have been tough for D'Abo. However, the singles that followed maintained the group in the charts and remain highly regarded today. Dylan was still present with Just Like a Woman and the number one single Mighty Quinn. Mike D'Abo was an accomplished songwriter in his own right but the band continued to record other people's sons. However, they did miss a trick as the BBC version of D'Abo's Handbags & Gladrags shows D'Abo's prowess as a songwriter. The song has since been covered by Rod Stewart and the Stereophonics amongst others, the latter used as the theme tune for The Office.

This is a great collection of one of the greatest run of singles from the 1960s. It includes sleeve notes by Mike Hugg, Tom McGuiness and Manfred Mann. Interestingly, the cover picture is by bass player Klaus Voormann who also created the cover for Revolver.

Umbrella Music

Original release: 29 September 2023

Essential Tracks

  • If You Gotta Go, Go Now
  • 5-4-3-2-1
  • Mighty Quinn

Track Listing

  1. 5-4-3-2-1

  2. Hubble Bubble (Toil & Trouble)

  3. Do Wah Diddy Diddy

  4. Sha La La

  5. Come Tomorrow

  6. Oh No, Not My Baby

  7. The One in the Middle

  8. If You Gotta Go, Go Now

  9. There's No Living Without Your Loving

  10. Pretty Flamingo

  11. You Gave Me Somebody To Love

  12. Just Like a Woman

  13. Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James

  14. Ha! Ha! Said the Clown

  15. Sweet Pea

  16. Mighty Quinn

  17. My Name is Jack

  18. Fox on the Run

  19. Ragamuffin Man

  20. Handbags & Gladrags (BBC Session)

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