Manfred Mann

The BBC Sessions

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This 24-song collection of tracks recorded for the BBC from 1964-1966 sounds very good, thanks to the Paul Jones-fronted lineup (although a few of the songs are instrumentals). Of most interest are four tunes the band never released in the 1960s, including a version of "Parchman Farm" that features only Jones and his harmonica, and the obscure, mediocre Barry-Greenwich composition "That's the Way I Feel." More unexpected are a couple of Jones originals the band never did in the studio, the bluesy and derivative "I Need You" and "It Took a Little While." There's no "Doo Wah Diddy Diddy," but most of the other big mid-'60s hits are played ("Sha La La," "Come Tomorrow," "Pretty Flamingo," "If You Gotta Go, Go Now"), as well as some of their better LP and EP cuts. This is recommended a little above the usual BBC archive compilation, because Manfred Mann played extremely well live, and because there are actually some notable changes from the familiar studio arrangements from time to time. That's especially evident on "Machines," which is decisively better than the studio version; this take, powered by a great bass riff, even sounds strong enough to have been an off-the-wall hit single.

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