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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Manfred Mann - "Instrumental Assassination" (Fontana) vinyl 7", 45 rpm, EP 1966

This 45 rpm EP can be seen either as a goof, or an exploration from Manfred Mann (the band) into the shadowy world of jazz, pop and arrangement.   Recorded in 1966, Manfred Mann was between lead singers when they recorded this fantastic music.   Although it is an instrumental release, there are 'vocals' on it - not clear whose voice it is, but it could be Mann (organ and piano) or Mike Hugg (drums and vibraphone).   Mann/Hugg stand out, but also the double bass playing by Dave Richmond is incredible throughout and is very much the instrument that really hooks the listener to the grooves. Beatle friend Klaus Voormann contributed recorder as well.

Manfred Mann, the band, does mostly covers or use material from other songwriters.  They have written songs, but I think their genius is in the arrangements.  Their original singer Paul Jones is one of the great British vocalists from that era, so it must have been an odd moment for them to be without a vocalist and an iconic on top of that.  Here without Jones, they cover the great RnB song "Sonny," as well as two Troggs tunes.   Their arrangement of "Sonny" I think is better than the original recording.  That I know is something that I can be shot on the spot for, but the way they play with the melody and the instrumentation is a perfect mood cocktail.  There are touches of The Modern Jazz Quartet, especially on the Mod side of the street.  I have been looking for this EP for awhile now, and I found it at HMV in Tokyo.  A great find and an amazing EP.