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Release Info: MANFRED MANN - AS IS (FONTANA 1966) Jap mastering cardboard sleeve mono+stereo
The FONTANA years 1
The departure of frontman Paul Jones left Manfred Mann with a large void to fill in the summer of 1966. Not only was Jones a charismatic vocalist, he was also a writer and one of Manfred Mann's key selling points with the record buying public. The group's record company, HMV, realised this and hedged their bets by signing Jones for a new solo deal, but dropping the band from its roster.
In late 1966 while Jones was enjoying success with his first solo single, "High Time," a new version of Manfred Mann emerged with a cover of Bob Dylan's "Just Like A Woman" on Fontana. The new line up featured Mike D'Abo as vocalist (previously with A Band Of Angels) and was augmented by Klaus Voorman on bass, with Tom McGuiness switching to lead guitar. Despite the magnitude of this personnel change, the single was a top 10 hit and paved the way for this album, As Is.
Released in October 1966, As Is continued the pop sensibilities of their previous album, Mann Made, with the group firmly removed from its original R&B roots. In addition to "Just Like A Woman," highlights included a humorous tribute to a hangover entitled "Morning After The Party" and a slick vibes led rendition of the jazz standard "Autumn Leaves." Like many mid sixties albums, As Is seems to be a collection of songs, rather than a complete entity like Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper.
In this instance some of the material does appear to be filler, such as the banal "Box Office Draw" and the chaotic "Another Kind Of Music." The general feel of the album shows a band searching for a direction and does not seem as focused or disciplined as the Jones-led R&B material. Nevertheless there is some excellent playing, particularly from drummer Mike Hugg and Manfred Mann himself, whose jazz influenced style helped add a high brow dimension to the group.
The album was a top 20 hit in the UK charts and consolidated the group's reputation, on which they would continue to build over the next three years[allmusic]