The Manfreds are still Makin’ Tracks
PUBLISHED: 14:43 09 April 2017
The Manfreds are touring again this year – and making new music. Martin Hutchinson caught up with guitarist Tom McGuinness.
The Manfreds will be continuing their heavy workload throughout 2017 by touring the country.
But what makes this tour different from recent ones, is that the band has a brand new album out, and will be playing tracks from it in their set.
For the uninitiated; in the beginning was Manfred Mann, a band whose hit catalogue is the envy of many. Pretty Flamingo, Mighty Quinn, Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Ha Ha Said The Clown and Just Like a Woman are just a few of their many hits.
Part way through the string of hits, the band survived the departure of their singer and frontman Paul Jones.
His replacement, Mike d’Abo, kept the momentum going, but eventually the band – who had veered away from their original R‘n’B and jazz leanings into the murky world of commercial pop – broke up.
The members of the band enjoyed solo success, but in 1991 the band reformed, without Manfred Mann – who was the band’s keyboard player, for guitarist Tom McGuinness’ 50th birthday.
They enjoyed it so much that they have continued touring to this day.
Original members Paul Jones (vocals and harmonica), Tom McGuinness (guitars) and Mike Hugg (keyboards) are joined onstage by stalwarts Marcus Cliffe (bass), Simon Currie (flute and sax) and Rob Townsend (drums).
Sometimes, they appear with Paul’s replacement as singer Mike d’Abo in a show that encompasses the whole of the band’s output.
In fact, Mike d’Abo appears on the new album, taking turns with Jones to provide lead vocals.
The album is called Makin’ Tracks and coincidentally, the first track Smokestack Lightning was also the first track on the very first album back in 1964.
As well as Blues and R‘n’B standards like I’m Your Kingpin and Bring It On Home To Me, the band tackle some great covers such as Sunshine Superman and Lean On Me.
Relaxing just before a show, guitarist Tom McGuinness tells me that the new songs have been well received.
“Yeah, the reception has been fantastic and it was interesting to record these different versions of the songs.”
But it’s been a long time since the last album.
“That’s right, to be honest the problem was finding the time to go into the studio. We tour a lot as The Manfreds and we all have different projects outside the band.
“For instance, Paul, Rob and I tour as The Blues Band and the others have equally bust schedules.”
For the 2017 dates so far announced, Mike d’Abo will not be appearing with The Manfreds.
“No, Mike doesn’t do every tour and he is touring with The New Amen Corner and Mike Pender.”
When Paul Jones is the sole vocalist, the band in the past has tended to concentrate on the earlier – more bluesy – material.
Tom agrees. “Yes, we’ll concentrate on the early stuff, but will play a lot of the hits as well as a few tracks off the new album.
“It will be a great night, as Paul always gets the audience going and it’s great hearing them join in all the songs.”
He ponders for a second.
“We really do have some great fans.”
Tom, like Paul and Mike Hugg are all in their seventies, but show no signs of slowing.
“No, we all enjoy it too much. It’s great getting paid to do what you love for a living, and it’s far too late now for me to get a ‘proper’ job.”
As for the band’s plans for the year, Tom isn’t completely sure.
“We never like to plan too far ahead,” he says.
“We have the spring dates and more than likely there’ll be some in the autumn too, as well as some stately home shows in the summer.”
• The Manfreds will be appearing at The Rhodes Centre, Bishop’s Stortford, on Saturday, June 17.
Tickets are available from the box office on 01279 710200.