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Manfred Mann Chapter Three - Manfred Mann Chapter Three CD (album) cover


Manfred Mann Chapter Three


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 59 ratings

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4 stars If you ever wondered how Manfred Mann (the band) went from the 60s pop fluff of Do Wah Diddy and Sha La La to the massive progressive acheivements of the Earth Band (think Solar Fire and The Roaring Silence), well Chapter Three's two albums will provide you with a partial explanation. I say partial because while this is a leap forward from the earlier poppy material (the group did have a tendancy for jazzy B-sides though!) the brass-heavy jazz-tinged rock that Chapter Three made is far from being a linear progression that leads to the "spacier" sounds of the Earth band.

Taken on their own merit the two Chapter Three albums are extremely listenable, sometimes fascinating examples of very early progressive jazz-rock ... remember that this first album was cut in the summer of 1969. The core of Chapter Three was Manfred Mann (the guy) and his former cohort in the pop band, Mike Hugg. Mann and Hugg formed a formidable double keyboard line-up and the pair also wrote all Chapter Three's material between them, with Hugg also assuming lead vocal duties. The band featured Bernie Living on flute/alto sax and a barrage of guests on brass, while bassist Steve York, who also played on East Of Eden's fascinating debut album Mercator Projected, and drummer Craig Collinge rounded off a highly competent outfit.

The music on this album is particularly "song-based" with most pieces hanging on a verse/chorus format before exploding into instrumental excursions, which are clever rather than flashy. The tone is set by the bluesy opener Travelling Lady and it barely lets up through the album. My favourites tunes of this sort are Snakeskin Garter (which has some great solos on electric piano and bass) the sardonic, psychedelic You're A Better Man Than I (which was written by Mann and Hugg but had been popularised by The Yardbirds). There are also shorter straightforward, albeit psych-tinged pieces like Sometimes, One Way Glass and Ain't It Sad that give the album variety and balance.

The true invention comes from Konekuff which is a more off-beat progressive jazz instrumental which cute switches between the brass motifs and some seriously distorted fuzz organ moments, Devil Woman, a sinister beast that forshadows the kind of jazz that King Crimson would visit on Lizard and the playful free jazz workout A Study In Inaccuracy. Unfortunately the longest track Time is probably the most frustrating composition here ... with the slow-burning bluesy vocal segments failing to jell with the slightly cheesy brass chorus.

Still, this is a fine album that would be unique if it weren't for the fact that Chapter Three themselves cut a similar one a year later! Despite bearing an even more dated feel than most other proto-prog and early fusion records do, I'd say this makes for compelling listening. ... 70% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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