Uh, huh, it was the Manfreds…
Listen/Download – Manfred Mann – 5-4-3-2-1
Welcome to yet another week in the annals of all manner of pop.
The tune I bring you today should be – assuming that you have a taste for UK R&Beat – a familiar one, but the disc it appears on might not.
Manfred Mann is one of those bands that I have certainly known about all my life (via the big hits) , but it was only during the mod/garage days of the 80s that I discovered and developed a serious taste for their music.
So much so, in fact that I would gladly go on record as stating that aside from Scott Walker – who exists in a class by himself – Paul Jones is my favorite vocalist of the British Invasion.
Manfred Mann were ostensibly part of the blues-based British vibe, but one need only scratch the surface a little bit to discover how important jazz was to their sound.
Thanks in large part to Manfred Mann’s (the man, not the band) keyboards and Mike Vickers work on guitar, flute and sax, the Manfreds laid down some of the deepest, most exciting sounds of the early to mid 60s.
The song was released as a single in the UK on the HMV label in January of 1964.
This of course brings up the question of, where did the 45 you see before you come from?
Fans of soul jazz/mod jazz will already be knee deep in the Prestige Records 45 discography, a wellspring of Hammond organ sides and all manner of harder edged soul jazz. How Manfred Mann – who had all of their early US 45s released on the Ascot label – got this one 45 issued on Prestige is a complete mystery to me.
If you take a look at a Prestige 45 discography, there is one interesting clue, that being that the next single released in the catalog was a record by a duo named Brett and Terry with the tunes ‘Beatle Hop’ b/w ‘Beatle Fever’.
Aside from that, all the releases before and after these two 45s – this being perhaps a very short lived attempt to cash in on the longhair/teenage market – are regular Prestige label bread and butter, i.e. jazz and blues.
The record itself is a banger of the first order.
‘5-4-3-2-1’ has been a fave of mine since I first heard it roughly 30 years ago. It sees the band in top form, moving forward like a buffalo stampede led by Jones’s harp and Mann’s electric piano.
The flip side, ‘Without You’ is a bluesy grinder with some remarkable flute work.
Oddly, the writing credit on the 45 is messed up, with Mike Hugg listed as ‘Hugo’ between Jones and Mann.
It’s a great disc, and if anyone has any deeper info on the Prestige connection, please drop me a line in the comments.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you next week.