'), finally ended his days in an institute? (One in Chicago perhaps?) This is all very
hard for me so soon after Doctor Who becoming such a hit again. They'll be bringing back steam trains next!
I am not talking here you understand about one of the big music stores. Even these have relatively sparse offerings when it
comes to Manfred Mann. If they have anything in stock, more often than not its one of the budget price sixties albums. Not only
could I nip out today and buy the 'World of Mann' from our local Woolworth's or Asda supermarket, but they also have loads of copies, out on display mixing
with all the other current hit albums. I think perhaps you should sit down for the next bit. New in at number 20 in the album chart in W H Smith and Asda,
where it is also album of the week, or at least it is in Liscard. Woolworth's went one better placing it at number 19. Who cares, because whichever way
you look at it that is a top twenty hit and in the United Kingdom, where sadly music that isn't considered cool, doesn't get played. One of our coolest TV and
radio presenters, Jonathon Ross, played the D'Abo 'Mighty Quinn' on Saturday on his radio show. It sounded great and at the end Jonathon proudly
announced that was Manfred Mann before he got his Earth Band. A significant remark to me, having lived in a country for so long where Manfred's name
can so often be associated to Jones and D'Abo and very little else. (Update:' World of Mann' entered the BBC UK album chart at No 24 last night - 11/6/06)
So what is this album that has put both 'Do Wah Diddy' and 'Blinded' back in the
top twenty after all these years. (The official UK charts will be announced later today). This is on the face of it yet another compilation released by Universal
called 'The World of Mann.' It is being TV advertised and although I haven't seen the advert yet a friend of mine has. Apparently the advert's proud boast is for
the first time on CD! I think this reference is to an alum titled The Best of Manfred Mann and Manfred Mann's Earth Band, so whilst those who own a copy of
Evolution might want to argue the claim, technically it didn't claim to be the very best of, 'World of Mann' does.
I remember once arguing in this very column that if you tasked ten people with
the task of compiling an album for a particular artist you would get ten different albums. One man's meat is another Mann's poison! That said the people at
Universal have done a pretty good job with this. The sixties bit is easy peasie. Almost all the sixties hits in the order they appeared, seventeen of them to be
exact. Not exactly rocket science. They have missed off 'You Gave Me Somebody to Love', which was put out by HMV after Jones had left and the
band had signed to Fontana but was still a hit. For even bigger nitpickers, they haven't included 'So Long Dad' which must have been a hit somewhere! This is
not to be honest, a great loss, whereas it would have been nice to have had the evocative 'Up the Junction' included.
Like the Evolution set, they have included Mike D'Abos 'Handbags and Gladrags',
which is a very good idea, but makes you wonder why they couldn't have included, 'Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads' theme or even Mc Guinness
Flint's 'When I'm Dead and Gone? It is odd that Manfred Mann only ever recorded 'Handbags' for the radio. One day I will persuade someone to release that!
Finally on CD1 a big pat on the back to the compilers for remembering 'The One in the Middle' title track of one of the few EPs (extended play) to ever get into
the UK top ten. It would be extremely churlish and uncharitable for me to mention that whilst the title track was very popular, the reason people broke the
rules and bought this record in such ridiculous numbers was largely because of Manfred's brilliant interpretation of the Bob Dylan song, 'With God on Our
Side.' Did I say easy peasie? OK so perhaps this isn't the very best of, just some of the best of, but its still nice to hear all of those hit records one after the other.
Those of you who just don't skip my ramblings on the sixties, will also know that most of the time this band wasn't about its hit records, good though they
were. It was also about blues, jazz and some pretty good song writing from time to time. The thing is, this CD, or for that matter CD2, should not be judged
from a fan's perspective. It isn't aimed at fans. They will already own dozens of identical recordings of 'Come Tomorrow', or three hundred live bootleg
versions of 'Blinded', most of which sound like they have been recorded on a bad telephone line, inside a toilet, whilst it was flushing.
This record is for Joe Public and it would appear that Joe Public is buying. This is great news, because when they realise how good these bands were and
are, some of them will be tempted to buy other things or even check out MMEB live. Thankfully here in the UK, people may at last get a chance to do that now later this year.
CD2 is the Earth Band stuff. Once again I honestly believe this has been compiled with some care and thought and not just slung together as compilations of
this nature can so often be. Once again there are few surprises, because this is 'The Very Best Of!' I do get the feeling however that it was compiled by a
bit of a fan, cause with MMEB the choices are not so immediately apparent once you've covered the obvious top ten hits. So it is very nice to see tracks like
'Questions' and 'Father of Day' included. If I had been involved I would have gone in date order to match CD1 but that's just me. On the other hand it is such
a shame they have not included at least one of the singles from Plains Music. Perhaps for me, this is the one unforgivable error, on this compilation. (Just
think how many copies of that brilliant album would have been sold, if Joe Public had got to hear just one song!) On the positive side I was absolutely thrilled to see 'Demons and Dragons' included.
Here is a set then that takes us on a very long musical journey from '54321' to 'Demons'. Although even CD2 concentrates on the commercial or popular
front of Manfred Mann, meaning you get little blues or jazz as such, there is still a strong feel starting on '54321' that is still there today. This is a feel, which
makes Manfred's music quite unique. It is only when you hear something like this that you realise why some forty-three years later the name of Manfred Mann can still be found in the charts.
I have always believed that Manfred has missed out a bit over the years. His decision to stop touring in the UK after Angel Station didn't help. I remember
meeting a guy at Manchester at Noel's second gig with the band, who asked me where the band had been hiding since 1979. It was then I realised that
whilst fans will travel to see their favourite band, good old Joe Public will go see what is on locally.
Then there is the question of street cred and cool. In my opinion far lesser bands than MMEB go on shows like Jools Holland, here in the UK. Here they are
treated with undeserved adoration, because, what they lack in musicianship is made up for in street cred and cool. (Sometimes it feels like the Kings new cloths!)
From now on I shall cheer myself up by wondering just how many of them will still have hit albums in forty something years time, cool or not! As for 'The
World of Mann?' Well hats off to Universal for doing it, and advertising it on TV. I know that you have all these tracks already but go on, treat yourselves,
buy a copy. It is not expensive, is nicely packaged and free of those inevitable liner notes by some chap from the Pool. It has been very nicely done and very much deserves our support.
Speaking of 'Best Ofs,' Steve and Helen have absolutely forbidden me from talking about the Best of DVD, which of course is just a figment of my imagination
anyway. I am as a result unable to mention live Eskimos in Australia from 1972, or some very Plain video I didn't know existed. Some of you may have a
poor quality colour Budapest with a censored Martha moog solo. Now the black and white of this is that I hate censorship and love moog solos. Hands up if
you remember the cartoons by the way? Incidentally my wife Carol (probably in league with Steve and Helen) is threatening to kill this section, despite me
begging her not to, odd because she has always been my Angel.
If I weren't imagining all of this, which as I emphasised before, I am, there would still be the long process of clearing material for use, which could easily go
wrong. Thankfully the tedious and very skilful business of doing that would fall to good old Steve. It would be down to him, not me thankfully, to get to the
meat of the problem and bring some joy, for you. Anyway if it ever happened, it would be blindingly good, I'm sure you would agree. I lie here, no more than
I did a couple of decades ago, father. (Is it me or has it got dark already dad?) I fear I may have said too much already and will have to do a runner, put out
an sos even. Perhaps I will just go have a lie down. Anyone know where I can get a can of Instant Sex by the way?
Perhaps I will see you at a UK gig soon. Powerful stuff that instant sex!
Best wishes Andy Taylor