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Chapter Two: The Best of the Fontana Years

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Album Review

The departure of Paul Jones for a solo career in 1966 spelled major reorganization for Manfred and his troops, who recruited lead vocalist Mike D'Abo and bassist (and Beatle chum) Klaus Voormann. To the surprise of many, the new lineup rattled off seven Top Ten British hits in the next three years in a far less R&B-oriented style. Emphasizing harmonies and Manfred Mann's inventiveness as arranger and keyboardist (often employing the then-futuristic Mellotron), this represented the group's most commercial phase, with an upbeat approach that bordered on downright chipper. These 20 tracks include all the key singles from this time, as well as a few LP cuts. Frankly, this rather lightweight, prototypically cheery late-'60s British pop — sounding rather like a more commercial version of the Odessey & Oracle-era Zombies — hasn't aged nearly as well as their far gutsier Paul Jones-era recordings. Only one of these songs was a hit in the U.S., but it was a big one: their great 1968 arrangement of the then-unreleased Bob Dylan song "The Mighty Quinn."

Customer Reviews

Blinded by the Idiots!

Please, stop with the whining about Blinded by the Light, a song which would have absolutely no business being on this compilation in the first place. Take a moment to read the title and description of this CD; these tracks were recorded during the band's late-sixties tenure on the Fontana label, nearly a decade before "Blinded" was released by a different version of the band (now named Manfred Mann's Earth Band) and on a different label (Warner in the U.S., Bronze in the U.K.) You might as well complain that Silly Love Songs isn't on the Beatles One CD, or that New York, New York isn't on Frank Sinatra's Capitol Years box set. As for what IS on this CD, it may not entirely reach the heights of Manfred Mann's earlier British Invasion hits (Do Wah Diddy, Pretty Flamingo, etc.), but there are some great moments of pop, psychedelia, and social comment, including their immortal version of Dylan's The Mighty Quinn. Even if you HATE this CD, please evaluate it on the basis of the music it does contain, not on the basis of which songs aren't on it that don't belong there to begin with!

Great Songs from a different era and label

Some of the reviewers here need to PAY ATTENTION. This CD collection covers THE FONTANA YEARS - which was well before Manfred Mann formed his Earth Band and recorded "Blinded By the Light." And his years with Fontana were after "Do Wah Diddy." To knock this collection or give it only one star because it doesn't contain those songs is a mistake. These songs are very engaging in their own right, with a proto-progressive-pop sound that features sharp songwriting, solid and innovative musicianship and arranging, and cool vocals. Of course, "Quinn" is the highlight, but check out "Just Like a Woman," "Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James," and the Beach Boys Pet Sounds-esque "Up the Junction."

Mighty Quinn

I agree with Rock Lover. "Mighty Quinn" is the best song! You can't help loving it!


Formed: 1962 in England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

An R&B band that only played pop to get on the charts, Manfred Mann ranked among the most adept British Invasion acts in both styles. The fact that their range encompassed jazz as well as rhythm & blues, coupled with some elements of their appearance and presentation -- co-founder/keyboardist Manfred Mann's bearded, bespectacled presence -- also made the Manfreds more of a thinking person's band than a cute, cuddly, outfit like the Beatles, or sexual provocateurs in the manner of the Rolling Stones....
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Chapter Two: The Best of the Fontana Years, Manfred Mann
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