BRI­TISH R&b

Man­fred Mann brought joy to mil­lions of mu­sic lovers dur­ing the mid to late 60s with a slew of R&B in­flu­enced hits, says Phil Capone .

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Phil Capone looks at Mike Vick­ers’s play­ing in 60s band Man­fred Mann.

The ear­li­esT in­car­na­Tion of Man­fred Mann can be traced back to clac­ton-on-sea, es­sex circa 1962 when Man­fred Mann (key­boards) and Mike hugg (drums, vibes, pi­ano) formed The Mann-hugg Blues Brothers, a septet fea­tur­ing a four-piece horn sec­tion. By 1963 their slightly cum­ber­some moniker had been changed to Man­fred Mann & The Man­freds and the line-up now in­cluded Paul Jones (vo­cal and har­mon­ica), Mike Vick­ers (sax and flute), and Dave Rich­mond (bass). Keen to break into the UKs sin­gle mar­ket they soon re­alised that they needed a gui­tar player (those were the days when the elec­tric gui­tar re­ally was king), so sax­o­phon­ist/flautist Mike Vick­ers vol­un­teered him­self for this ar­du­ous task. ap­par­ently within two weeks Vick­ers was up and run­ning and al­ready play­ing on gigs well, Bert Wee­don had al­ways claimed it was pos­si­ble to Play In A Day!

With their name now short­ened to sim­ply Man­fred Mann, the band signed to the his Master’s Voice la­bel in March 1963, re­leas­ing their first sin­gle, the slow and bluesy in­stru­men­tal Why should We not? four months later. This was swiftly fol­lowed by a sec­ond re­lease, cock-a-hoop, but both sin­gles failed to chart. it seemed that their par­tic­u­lar brand of r&B, with its strong jazz in­flu­ences clearly on dis­play, was not what the UKs record buy­ing pub­lic wanted. The Man­freds’ ca­reer might well have ended there and then, but in 1964 they were thrown a life­line when they were in­vited to write the theme tune for the new TV pop show, ready, Steady, Go! The re­sult­ing song, 5-4-3-2-1, quickly climbed the charts and kick-started the group’s ca­reer. There was no look­ing back and the hits just kept on com­ing, dom­i­nat­ing the charts not just in the UK but also the Usa. Dur­ing th­ese early years they never lost sight of their blues roots; ev­ery lP and eP re­lease fea­tured cov­ers of r&B stan­dards in­clud­ing smokestack light­ning, Got My Mojo Work­ing, and hoochie coochie Man.

While Mike Vick­ers’ play­ing might not be com­pa­ra­ble to the early work of say, clap­ton, Beck or Page, he was nonethe­less a very re­spectable player, par­tic­u­larly when you con­sider that this was not his main in­stru­ment. What’s re­ally im­pres­sive is that he was per­form­ing and record­ing after just a few months on gui­tar.

In 1965 Vick­ers quit the band to pur­sue a ca­reer in or­ches­tral and film mu­sic com­po­si­tion; front­man Paul Jones also left at this time to start his suc­cess­ful solo ca­reer. The de­par­ture of th­ese two prom­i­nent orig­i­nal mem­bers marked the end of The Man­freds’ first phase, a pe­riod when their in­fec­tious pop sin­gle re­leases were off­set by more 'se­ri­ous' R&B and jazz flavoured ma­te­rial on their LPs and ePs. Multi in­stru­men­tal­ist Mike Vick­ers was a big part of the band’s early sound, ini­tially on sax and flute, but by the time he left the group, also shap­ing the band’s in­creas­ingly gui­tar-based sound. his gui­tar work is a prom­i­nent fea­ture on their fi­nal EP of 1965, No Liv­ing With­out Loving. No mean feat for a mu­si­cian who hadn’t even picked up a six-string when he joined the band!

Man­fred Mann with Mike Vick­ers on sun­burst 335

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