Many reams have been written about ‘golden ages of pop’ and the ‘Swinging Sixties’ but in all that funereal waffle one thing gets overlooked. Musicians are not athletes or footballers. When they pass thirty they don’t hang up their guitars and go into management. Like all other artists, writers, painters and poets their urge to create only ends when they expire.
However, if there’s one band whose individual musical accomplishments have over the years gone from strength to strength, and yet who can encapsulate and keep alive the golden age of British popular music, then it has to be The Manfreds.
With their early roots in jazz and R & B, the calibre of these performers was always higher than their acquired pop status might indicate, but they still certainly knew how to produce a hit or six – in fact 15 UK Top 20 singles, 3 of them number ones (the shortest duration being 11 weeks). And after The Beatles and The Animals, they were the third band in the history of English rock to reach a number one position in America. (The back cover of their EP The One In The Middle relates that Bob Dylan came to the Marquee in London in May 1964 to catch the band, and that he thought they were “real groovy”).
Such is the durability of The Manfreds’ music that in 1992 EMI Records offered a new deal to the band to re-record all their greatest hits. Do Wah Diddy Diddy, 5-4-3-2-1, Pretty Flamingo, Ha! Ha! Said the Clown, Mighty Quinn, Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James …. the list is as long as it is impressive. How many bands of The Manfreds’ stature, with their roots in the 60s, can boast two chart-topping lead singers in both Paul Jones and Mike d’Abo, as well as members of other pop legends in the line-up, such as McGuinness Flint and Family?
Even today, unlike many touring 60s bands, there are no less than four original members in The Manfreds’ line-up. There’s hardly a radio station in the world that doesn’t play a Manfreds record at least once a day – and after over three decades since their glittering chart topping days this is an achievement in itself.
The band disbanded in 1969 but after not having played their hits together for nearly a quarter of a century, an enjoyable reunion in 1991 found everything falling back into place and with a dynamic new freshness that enhances their many chart successes.
Their live gigs burst with that quirky mix of solid gold pop, jazz and rhythm & blues which was always their trade mark…. add in a generous helping of showmanship and charisma and the result is a show as pleasing to the ears & eyes as it ever was.