Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Manfred Mann Chapter Three" (UK Jazzy Prog 1969)

Although this album was recorded in 1969, and thus falls between the pop band Manfred Mann and the prog band Manfred Mann's Earth Band (MMEB), it is far from being a missing link. Indeed, while there are hints of what was to come in terms of early MMEB offerings, Manfred Mann Chapter Three was far more stooped in jazz and fusion than any other project Mr. Mann has been involved in.

When Manfred Mann broke up in 1969, the eponymous keyboard player teamed up with band mate Mike Hugg to form Chapter Three. Interestingly, although versatile wind instrumentalist Bernie Living was added to the line up along with bassist and drummer, no guitarist was employed. Vocal duties were assumed by Hugg, his distinctive light throaty tones (he is best know for singing the theme to "The Likely Lads) fitting in surprisingly well.

The albums is generally rooted in the jazz side of rock, with occasional psychedelic pop interludes such as the brief "Ain't it sad" and "Sometimes". The freeform aspects of a number of the tracks do not suit my palate well. "Konekuf" and "A study in inaccuracy" are the worst offenders (from my point of view), at times being little more than unstructured jams. They are always brought back to a firmer rock basis, usually by the fanfare like trumpets of BS&T or Chicago, but the disintegration of the music in between is distracting and indulgent.

There are also more tightly structured but adventurous pieces such as the lengthy "Time", a more blues based number, and "Travelling lady". "Snakeskin garter" is a rather appealing moody song (could Dolly Parton possibly have heard this track before writing "Jolene", the melody is very similar). The closing track "Where am I going" is clearly a Mike Hugg song, bearing many of the hallmarks of his wonderful solo output, especially the great "Bonnie Charlie".

After this album, the band released one more similarly themed album before going their separate ways. Listening to the album now, it's easy to see why it was not commercially successful, especially when it followed the alluring pop of Manfred Mann. Seen in retrospect though, and even acknowledging that it is not all to my personal taste, this was a landmark album, a number of years ahead of its time and of others who followed a similar path.


Blogger Modlight said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!! I've been looking for this for a long time. I'm DJing this weekend and this will give me a reason to plug in the ipod during the potty/drink breaks.

16 November, 2006 02:21  
Blogger Vinyl4Giants said...

Enjoyed. Thanks.

07 March, 2008 10:19  

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