Sunday, February 3, 2019

Manfred Mann - 5 4 3 2 1

This is a nice cut from an early Manfred Mann LP. It's all very professional, very commercial, but there's more to it. It has a spark that was lacking in professional, commercial pop music from just a couple of years earlier. Manfred Mann are not unique in this. Something was happening in pop music beginning in 1963 and coming to full fruition in '64 or '65. There had been a dead spot that started in 1958 or so and lasted almost five years. Then, all of a sudden, "it's alive!!!"

You can see it clearly if you listen to the first recorded efforts of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, any of the bigs, and also in the work of the also rans. Their early material was on the dull side. Then listen to the work of the same bands in 1964 and '65. What had been competent and professional and all kinds of other boring adjectives suddenly became not only proficient, but also wildly enthusiastic and a lot more creative. This phenomenon was observable in America too. After the dull days of Neil Sedaka, Fabian, and Frankie Avalon (relieved, of course, by the fabulous work that was restricted to the black charts), there suddenly appeared the Beach Boys and all kinds of records backed by the Wrecking Crew in L.A., and the similar studio outfits in New York, New Orleans, Memphis, and Muscle Shoals. Dr. Frankenstein had found the right formula of chemicals and energy fields. It was all alive!!!

And no, it was not the Beatles who drove this revolution. They were influenced along with everyone else, benefiting from the work of Phil Spector, Bobby Robinson (Fury Records), Ike Turner, Al Bell (Stax Records), and a host of others, who had been filling up the mid-range of the pop charts with the wonderful antidote to that bland, awful pop music at the top of the charts. Young musicians in America and Europe, and also in places like Japan, Brazil, and Indonesia, were listening closely to those records. The rest is history! 

Manfred Mann were underrated, a common fate for English Invasion bands. They were serious musicians, detail oriented, and very entertaining. Go find a greatest hits CD and buy it. You won't be disappointed. 

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