The FONTANA years 2
This was the third album from the chapter two version of the Manfred Mann group featuring lead-singer Mike dAbo. The group is mostly known for their big and fine hit-singles during 1966-69 such as "Just Like a Woman", "Seme-detached Suburban Mr James", "Fox on the Run and of course the two included on this album "Mighty Quinn" and "Ha, Ha, Said the Clown".
Their albums are all fine examples of early British pop-rock at its finest and really worth seeking out. All band members were experinced, talented and capeable of playing very different instruments and musical styles. This obviously shows on their albums and there is a great variety in instrumentation on their albums.
"Mighty Garvey" is probably their most consistent with fine original material from Hugg and dAbo, and apart from the "comedy" tracks "Happy Families" they stay away from their tendency to put in a couply of jazz-tunes. Though "Happy Families" hardly are meant to be taken seriously, the opener sets a fine free-and-easy mood for the album.
Mike dabo's "No Better, No Worse" is a great Traffic inspired tune featuring Klaus Voorman's flute, which is also known from more of their hits.
"Every Day Another Hair Turns Grey" is Mike Hugg's sad melodic answer to Beatles' "Penny Lane" - fine lead and harmony vocals on this one.
"Country Dancing" is a song much in the same vein as the single "Ha, Ha, Said the Clown", though not as good - written by dAbo.
"It's So Easy Falling in Love" and "Each and Every Day" are other fine typical Manfred Mann songs; featuring the mellotrone which also often was used on their records. Written by Hugg.
"Mighty Quinn" is simply one the greatest singles released in the late 1960's - try compare with Bob Dylan's original, then you'll understand how big this band really was.
The funky "Big Betty" is my least favourite on the album - may give associations towards Steve Winwoods Spencer Davis days.
Mike dabo's "The Vicar's Daughter" is a beautiful song, with lyrics that some may find somewhat too sentimental; for me personally it's a favourite.
Guitarist Tom McGuinnes also contributed a song now and then; here he is featured with the surrelistic and experimental "Cubist Town" - though different the song works fine in the context.
Hugg's "Harry the One Man Band" is a little more of the same - art pop-rock - naive in the same way as Syd Barrett's early Pink Floyd songs....
Manfred Mann always used the long-play format to showcase its virtuosity and range of influences away from the world of pop singles. This was evident early in the band's career with albums such as The Five Faces of Manfred Mann, which was a hardcore R&B album, far removed from the pop sensibilities of singles like "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and "Sha La La." The contrast between this album and their singles output of 1968 is not quite as stark, as the LP contains pop material such as "It's So Easy Falling" and "The Vicar's Daughter." More unorthodox selections include "Cubist Town," "Harry the One-Man Band," and "Country Dancing," which showcase the eclectic side of the group. The album failed to chart in the U.K., which is surprising considering Manfred Mann's popularity in 1968 -- three British Top Ten singles. Perhaps the inclusion of one or two more hits like "Ha Ha Said the Clown" would have attracted more sales. In the U.S., the album was released as The Mighty Quinn and mixed some tracks from this album with older single material. The result is a more balanced affair, with the hits providing a welcome contrast to the more highbrow material. However, the U.K. record business was intent on not duplicating singles on albums -- a tradition that became rare in the 1970s.[allmusic]
The album code is : ODI195695