Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Manfred's Soul/Jazz '66

MANFRED MANN-Machines/She Needs Company/Tennessee Waltz/When Will I Be Loved U.K. HMV E.P. 7EG 8942 1966

Manfred Mann were always an interesting type of British r&b band.  They fell somewhere between the blues/Chuck Berry-rock n' roll style of contemporaries like the Yardbirds/Stones/Pretty Things/Downliner's Sect and the soul tinged r&b/jazz of Georgie Fame/Zoot Money/ Graham Bond.  My favorite period of their work has always been the '66 era when they added the horn section talents of Henry Lowther and Lyn Dobson and Manfred began using a Hammond organ (see May 28, 2009 entry). This E.P. stems from that time.  Another reason I dig this period is that Mick Vickers (rhythm guitar/vibes) had moved on by then with bassist Tom McGuinness moving onto guitar and it is Jack Bruce's masterful bass playing we're hearing, my favorite of all Manfred's bassmen.  Why he was not included on the picture sleeve is beyond me, but since he was only in the band for little over half a year and vacating the bass seat around the time of it's relese (May 1966) it's possible he was not available for a photo session.  The E.P. incidentally went to #1 on "Record Mirror's" seperate E.P. chart.

Regardless we're here to talk about the music!  "Machines" is a brilliant burst of the "new look" (erm "sound") Manfred's, by that I mean they have more chutzpah/soul (or "umph" ). It's interspersing of Hammond n' horns is a perfect mix with the bizarre over amplified clock winding noises meant to convey, I'm assuming, the bleak industrial mechanization that the song bemoans.  It's certainly one of the band's more socially observant pieces (even if it was written by Mort Shuman).  "She Needs Company" opens with a nice melody played by the horn section and tackles the relationship between what would these days be termed a "cougar" and a younger man.  The bass playing is exceptional (you can't miss a Jack Bruce bass solo) and a funky little Hammond organ solo by Manfred mashes nicely with it all.  I've never been a fan of the song "Tennessee Waltz", regardless of who's doing it.  Even with the groovy organ, jazzy horns and Paul Jone's campy ad-libbing it still fails to impress me.  The Hammond n' horns tour de force however continues with a spirited upbeat version of The Everly's "When Will I Be Loved" which follows the wonderful formula of the E.P.: soulful singing, busy bass lines, a funky Hammond solo and razor sharp brass action.  The E.P. would be the last one specifically recorded with Paul Jones. Though the next two would feature his photo on the sleeves the last, "As Was" was issued posthumously while the next, "Instrumental Asylum" (see May 28, 2019 entry) were entirely instrumental tracks.

Manfred Mann on "Ready Steady Go" April 22, 1966

All four tracks were collected sometime ago on See For Miles "E.P. Collection" and can also be found on the highly recommended 4 CD set "Down The Road Apiece: Their EMI Collection 1963-1966".

Hear "She Needs Company":


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