Archive for the ‘Mike D’Abo’ Category

Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band

Monday, April 11th, 2016

ZootWillie, Zoot Money, Decca

Listen: The Uncle Willie / Zoot Money ZootWillie.mp3

If you ever see the double LP, HARD UP HEROES, do yourself a favor, buy immediately. Released on UK Decca in ’74, the compilation is a proper collection of their deep 60′s catalog, mostly gritty blues leaning acts, and packaged beautifully. It was here that I first heard ‘The Uncle Willie’.

As with other tracks by The Graham Bond Organization, Alexis Korner, Them, The Birds and John Mayall, it epitomized what I imagined the seedy clubs of London’s Soho to sound like. I’ll never know, but bet I’m right.

Zoot Money already had his Big Roll Band rolling by then. For whatever reason, their moniker was left off the label copy, but their signature sound was sure there to be heard. Man, did I want to own this single from that first listen. Took me a few years, but I got it. Just as expected, the audio on the 7″ was even more authentic than the LP pressing, which in original mono, sounded pretty great already.

Years later, like thirty or so, a live cd from The Flamingo was issued. This band was clearly full and exciting live, as their rendition of ‘The Uncle Willie’ proved.

ZootBigTime, Zoot Money, Epic

Listen: Big Time Operator / Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band ZootBigTime.mp3

Pretty sure it was 2003, the Maximum Rhythm & Blues Tour, a yearly-ish event, played The Royal Albert Hall, and by sheer luck, I was there for work. Jackie Hyde arranged not only tickets, but passes to the after show. As if having just watched Manfred Mann, with both Paul Jones and Mike D’Abo doing their respective hits, Chris Farlowe, The Alan Price Set and Colin Blunstone wasn’t enough, the post show bit was a corucopia of their musician friends from the 60′s. I’m sure there were guys milling about, by now unrecognizable, that would’ve been great jukebox tab scores, but who could tell.

Not the case with Zoot Money. You couldn’t miss him. Jovial and very approachable, he laid a bunch of Marquee stories my way and had no idea ‘Big Time Operator’ came graced with a picture sleeve in the US.

ZootJukebox, Zoot Money, Jukebox Tab

What a great guy to talk with, and pretty good memory too. Wanting a jukebox tab, I didn’t know the B side to ‘The Uncle Willie’, but he did.

Manfred Mann

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Listen: Ragamuffin Man / Manfred Mann

Manfred Mann may hold the record for having massive success with not two, but three different lead vocalists. It’s usually big trouble when that original lead singer is suddenly gone. A few exceptions like AC/DC, Van Halen, The Move and maybe The Small Faces come to mind. But three different ones. Let’s see, that’s a pretty short list. I can only think of The Temptations and Manfred Mann.

Their Mercury/Fontana patch with Mike D’Abo, loosely referred to as Manfred Mann Chapter II, is my favorite, but just. To be fair, I love singles from all the lineups, so it’s probably my involuntary addiction toward anything released on the Philips/Mercury/Fontana labels that swings it. Honestly, I get the shakes around their pressings, especially the promos.

The last 7″ from the Mike D’Abo era, ‘Ragamuffin Man’ has forever been tarnished with fulfilling the final contractual commitment, by then Manfred Mann himself having decided on a jazz direction and new lineup, etc, etc. But seriously, it’s just as strong as the singles preceding it: ‘Semi Detached Suburban Mr. Jones’, ‘Ha Ha Said The Clown’, ‘My Name Is Jack’ and ‘The Mighty Quinn’. The record is great. I still play it a ton.

Got to hand it to him, Manfred Mann could not only pick songs but had a real gift of stamping his keyboard dazzle to every single they ever made. He might even be the earliest guy to successfully bring synths and Moog to mainstream radio.

And for the record, THE MIGHTY QUINN album, assembled for the US only just a few months prior to ‘Ragamuffin Man’ being released, is exceptional. They always used the long-play format to showcase a virtuosity and range of influences away from the world of pop singles. Despite not being an album recorded intentionally as such by the band, it plays like one, and combines all their assets nicely. It’s getting scarce these days, especially in a mint sleeve. I recommend everyone own a copy.

A Band Of Angels

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Listen: Invitation / A Band Of Angels

A Band Of Angels are possibly the most unique of any British Beat group. You see, they actually managed a national US television spot, yet never achieved a domestic release. Not even one single in America. True.

In early ’65, they were on Brian Epstein’s black and white UK segment of HULLABALOO, a weekly installment positioned as a live feed direct from England. It didn’t last long, but I recall a barefooted Marianne Faithfull, also interviewed post song and a bunch of suit/tied Merseybeat acts getting similar looks. Parallel with his management roster, he was very safe, dare I say, white. So forget about seeing anything with a blues or RnB influence in said segment. Never happened. Still, A Band Of Angels were a real treat to this little kid.

I’d seen their photo in 16 MAGAZINE, and was itching for a listen. They performed ‘Not True As Yet’, even crazier given the track was a B side of ‘Me’, a colossal UK flop on United Artists. One listen on that program, and I sang it for years to follow, almost ten, until I landed a copy for myself. That’s both how much I wanted to retain it and how strong the song’s hook was.

Jump forward to summer ’66, and the band’s recorded peak, ‘Invitation’, gets a UK release. The single has become more appreciated through the years, slowly revered in the Northern Soul clubs and deemed as one of Mike D’Abo’s best lead vocals ever. Now that’s saying something, given his later hits with Manfred Mann, like ‘The Mighty Quinn’ and ‘Semi Detached Suburban Mister James’ particularly.

Long John Baldry

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Listen: When The Sun Comes Shining Thru’ / Long John Baldry

Long John Baldry, as with Georgie Fame and Alan Price, was another guy from the early 60′s London blues and soul club circuit. Then known as Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, he and his band can be found on numerous schedules from The Flamingo and The Marquee clubs, double billing with several similar up and coming American RnB music enthusiasts, all hell bent on reinterpreting their worshiped heroes.

Like with yesterday’s post, he too took a more commercial route as the 70′s approached, successfully achieving mainstream pop hits in England. A switch of labels in both the UK and US, as well a change in musical style and the recruitment of Tony Macaulay as producer resulted in ‘Let The Heartaches Begin’, which went to #1 in Britain during November of ’67. A year later, ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”, written by Manfred Mann’s lead vocalist Mike D’Abo, went Top 30, although neither caught much traction in America.

Around ’68, Tony Macaulay began cornering many of my favorite records, either as writer, producer and in some cases, both. Current day British pop had become his forte with Scott Walker, Pickettywitch, The Marmalade and The Foundations amongst his successes. I guess he had a sound, and quite frankly, in my world, these two were a perfect pair.

Come ’71 though, Long John Baldry had reverted back to his original boogie woogie style, as he called it. Teaming up with Elton John and Rod Stewart as producers, both struggling newcomers in the early 60′s but by then successful superstars, afforded their old friend some decent US traction. Good for John Baldry of course, but for me, the music wasn’t as much fun nor more memorable than that period anchored by Tony Macaulay and ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”.

Manfred Mann

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

ManfredHaHaUKPSA, Manfred Mann, Fontana, Mercury

ManfredHaUSA, Manfred Mann, Fontana, Mercury

Listen: Ha! Ha! Said The Clown / Manfred Mann ManfredHa.mp3

Doesn’t take much for me to play a Manfred Mann single, usually can’t stop at one. You know, they may be the first band I can think of who lost a lead singer (theoretically signaling the end), but instead bounced back with a replacement equally as successful, yet sounding nothing the same. And if that wasn’t enough, did it a third time as well.

‘Ha! Ha! Said The Clown’ comes from that middle bit, when Mike D’Abo replaced the bluesy Paul Jones. Everyone loved them just as much – weirdly without blinking. As with Manfred Mann line up #1 (which I’ve covered a while back), line up #2 had a flawless run of singles, every one a must. I can’t pick a favorite, they all represent some great memory or other.

Howard Thompson reminded me earlier today of the most awesome RADIO LONDON site, which, mistakenly I thought was already linked over there in the right hand column – but in fact was not (it’s there now).

On the air less than three years, it’s saga as ‘thee’ pirate station is fascinating. Start on the homepage and check it out sometime. I randomly clicked on the chart from this day in ’67, knowing any one of these lists would include loads of singles doubling as a suitable excuse for alerting everyone to the site’s existence. ‘Ha! Ha! Said The Clown’ sits at #14, a bit of a drastic drop from the previous week, when at #1.

Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on BACK TO THE FAB 40 INDEX to check out any week you like. Plan ahead – set aside at least an hour.