Manfred Mann - keyboards, vocals; Colin Pattenden - bass; Chris Slade- drums; Chris Thompson - vocals, guitar; Dave Flett - guitar
Manfred Mann is probably the only rock artist to completely reinvent himself four times, (using four completely different musical styles and band line-ups), and to score a #1 Billboard hit with each incarnation. This show features his fourth band, Manfred Mann's Earth Band when they were playing New York's Beacon Theatre touring for their most recent release The Roaring Silence on Warner. Two songs are captured here—"Spirits in the Night" (hit song off that aforementioned album), and the widely covered Bob Dylan tune "Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)."
Mann, a South African-born jazz keyboardist who was never the lead vocalist in any of his bands, had been on the charts since 1964 with his first group, also simply called Manfred Mann. That original band was a British Invasion pop band that had been strongly influenced by US rhythm & blues. They scored a #1 hit with "Do Wah Diddy Diddy," and had other Top 20 hits with such songs as "Sha-La-La" and "Pretty Flamingo."
When that group ran its course (and lost its popular lead singer, Paul Jones), Mann broke up the band. He discovered the unreleased music of Bob Dylan that had surfaced in the bootleg album, The Basement Tapes, and returned using a completely revamped lineup in 1968 that released a chart-topping cover of Dylan's "The Mighty Quinn." This lineup would also have considerable success and featured future Cream bassist Jack Bruce.
At the turn of the decade in 1969, Mann purchased one of the first Moog synthesizers and put together one of the earliest progressive rock/jazz ensembles entitled Manfred Mann's Chapter Three. In fact, it was the moog owned by Mann that Keith Emerson borrowed to record the now famous solo in the ELP classic, "Lucky Man" in 1970. Mann's Chapter Three never saw any large scale commercial success, but released two critically acclaimed albums. In 1971, Mann again bounced back with yet another new group: Manfred Mann's Earth Band, which is featured here. This quintet, which featured Mann, bassist Colin Pattenden, guitarist Dave Flett, vocalist Chris Thompson, and drummer Chris Slade (who would later play with Jimmy Page in the Firm) had a harder, more rock-oriented sound. In 1977, Mann would again see #1 with a brilliant remake of the Springsteen classic, "Blinded By The Light."
Today, Mann remains active as a film scorer, writer, arranger, and on occasion, performer, with a revamped version of the Earth Band, but he stopped having hits in the mid-1980s.