Manfred Mann

At Abbey Road

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There have been so many best-ofs compiled for Manfred Mann's Paul Jones era (1963-1966, just as the title says) that you have to approach the newer ones with caution. Not that this 28-track anthology isn't good; it's very good, and has all the biggest early Manfred Mann hits. If you do have other early Manfred Mann best-ofs, though, there's a good chance you already own most of this. And if you have a lot of other Manfred Mann, period, you still have to pay attention, because there are two previously unreleased songs. As far as the basic track selection, it's good, though the omission of "My Little Red Book" and their cover of Bob Dylan's "With God on Our Side" is a serious oversight, and the absence of some of their better early non-hits ("She," "Dashing Away With the Smoothing Iron," "Groovin'") lamentable. On the other hand, you get a couple of 1965 B-sides, "What Did I Do Wrong" and "What Am I Doing Wrong" (totally different songs despite the similar titles), that never showed up on American LPs at the time; the former is a pedestrian blues, the latter a pretty fair minor-keyed jazz-soul original by Mike Hugg. As for the unreleased items, "Without You" is a May 1963 outtake from their recording test, remade in a more dynamic version at the end of 1963 for their first album. "Ain't That Love," a previously unissued 1964 group original, is a decent edgy jazz-R&B tune that was certainly up to the standard of most of their early LP cuts. Tom McGuinness of Manfred Mann wrote the liner notes.

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