Sunday Music – Time Is Right

Posted on Sun 04/08/2012 by


Today’s music video is ‘Time Is Right’ from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

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This video was posted to You Tube by 008Meloman

During the time I spent in the Royal Australian Air Force, I was stationed at a number of bases in Eastern Australia. By far the longest time was spent at Williamtown, the base closest to Newcastle, the large city around 100 miles or so North of Sydney in New South Wales.

I also had an interest in music at that same time, during the 70’s, and being in relatively close proximity to Sydney, I was able to go to concerts to see some of the Australian bands, and also bands touring Australia. Newcastle, being close to Sydney also had the advantage that those Australian bands could also host concerts at some of the venues around the city, and I would quite regularly see some of the top Australian bands playing in the city.

There were also visits by some of those touring bands, and I remember at least half a dozen times going to concerts featuring some of those overseas artists, Donovan, Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Dr Hook, and from the Blues music genre, I’ll never forget a concert by the legendary duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

One of the best concerts I attended was headlined by a visiting International Band, touring Australia from the UK, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

I was a fan of Manfred Mann from the mid 60’s, and in fact one of my all time favoutite songs is ‘Mighty Quinn’ Manfred Mann’s 1968 cover of the Bob Dylan song, ‘Quinn The Eskimo’, and in fact probably the definitive version of this wonderful song.

The concert featuring Manfred Mann was some time in 1972, as I remember. At the time, I purchased a Program for the concert. but you know, at the time, you never think to keep things like this. All I did know was that it was some time in 1972. Here, the Internet came to my aid, and I could look it up. The band only toured Australia twice in those early years 1971, and 1972, and as I knew it was definitely 1972, then it was that second tour I was looking for. I still couldn’t nail down the date, and eventually found a Manfred Mann website, Platform End. I contacted them by email, and was reliably informed that the dates were sometime in May and June, again, no definitive date, but at least now I had a handle on the relative time frame.

One thing that I do remember was that this was without doubt, the best concert I had ever seen, and even now, it ranks up there as among the best concerts I have been to.

It was held in the Newcastle City Hall, perhaps the only place in Newcastle large enough to host an indoor concert, and in all, it was the venue for three of those large touring band concerts that I went to during my time in Newcastle.

Manfred Mann was the headline act, and on the under card, in fact the band playing directly prior to Manfred Mann coming on stage was the famed New Zealand/Australian band The La De Das.

I was a little disappointed with the seating arrangements, well, mainly where I was sitting. I was given a seat directly on the aisle about mid way down. I would have preferred to be closer to the front, and in from the aisle in a venue where the floor was flat, because vison was a little difficult, especially when those in front stood up.

Probably, if the truth is to be told here, I might suggest that a large portion of the big audience came along only to hear The La De Das, as, at that time, they were probably one of the premier Australian Bands. Kevin Borich was the leader of the band and here in Australia, he is now a revered musician. They had already had a number of singles that rode high in the National Australian charts, and they played them all on the night, and the crowd was literally stoked.

Also, if the truth is to be told, I would even suggest that those in the audience who did come specifically for Manfred Mann would have been expecting the band to play the many hits they remembered from Manfred Mann, those from the mid to late 60’s when the band was hugely popular.

The next band on after the La De Das, was in fact the main act, Manfred Mann, and unlike any other concert I had attended, there was quite a long break between the two bands, as all the equipment was removed for the earlier band and the new ‘stuff’ was brought on for the next band.

Oddly, this is where that aisle seat that I was so disappointed in, proved in fact to be quite lucky.

During that set up time, a large table was placed right alongside me in the aisle, and some quite large consoles were placed on the table. That was what caused the longer than usual delay between bands, as those consoles were all connected to what was on the stage up the front. I had no idea what it was, at the time, but later came to realise that this was in fact the classic mixing table, and Manfred was one of the first to utilise this mixing table at concerts, something that later came into being as the standard.

When the band finally did arrive on stage, Manfred introduced them as Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, and that this tour of Australia was one of the very early times that the band had started to use this name. On the earlier tour of Australia, the year before, they used the name Manfred Mann Chapter Three.

What came next, during the concert was without doubt the best concert I had ever attended, and even now, still ranks up there as one of the best I have been to.

The band did not play any of those earlier fondly remembered songs, but, hey, who cared, as this was some of the best music I had heard. While I concentrated on the stage and the band, every so often I would just watch the guy at that mixing table. He was working just as hard as those guys on stage, and in fact, was also an integral part of the band.

They played for around two hours, perhaps even a little longer, which was also something I hadn’t encountered previously, as most bands were hard pressed to make even one hour, some perhaps a little longer, but none anywhere near this two hours.

When they finished up, the thought crossed my mind that they hadn’t played one song from those earlier years, but I wasn’t disappointed at all. This was just such a wonderful concert.

In the weeks that followed, I visited my usual record shop, where I was now such a regular that the the owner of the store knew me on sight and would direct me to any ‘new stuff’ that he thought I might like. I asked him if he had anything by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, but, in an odd thing, this was an occasion when I knew something about music that he didn’t, as he had never heard of them, understandable really, as this was the Band’s first tour under that new name.

He kept looking for me, but the LP’s were just not available here in Australia.

That all changed a few years later, when Manfred Mann’s Earth Band had a major hit, not only here in Australia, but all over the World, with another cover, this time of the Bruce Springsteen song, ‘Blinded By The Light’, released in 1976. The band had already had a minor hit here in Australia the year before with another Springsteen song ‘Spirits In The Night’, and after the success of ‘Blinded By The Light’, they re-released ‘Spirits In The Night as a single only, and it became a hit the second time around.

Now, the band’s albums were becoming available.

The first one I got hold of was the album with that first big hit, the album being titled ‘The Roaring Silence’.

My record shop guy located a copy of the earlier album ‘Nightingales and Bombers’, and as they were released in Australia, I also purchased their next albums, both ‘Watch’, and ‘Angel Station’, and also the compilation album ‘1971 to 1973’. I also have a Manfred Mann album from his early days, ‘The Mighty Quinn’.

If I had to select a favourite album, it would undoubtedly be ‘Angel Station’.

When I got my re-engagement bonus for signing on for another term in the Air Force, I spent the money on a good quality stereo sound system. Part of that was a quality set of really good head phones.

While a lot of people prefer to play their albums loud, I sometimes prefer to listen to the album in the quiet and with those head phones on, not too loud, just set at a comfortable setting, and more often than not, you hear so many things differently than you would just playing the album through the speaker boxes.

Such was the case with the song I have selected here for today’s feature song, ‘Time Is Right’.

This song is from the album Nightingales And Bombers’, and is the third track on side one of the vinyl LP.

Listening to the song, which included what was quite common at the time, extended periods of very clever work on guitar, here done by Mick Rogers, what was really noticeable, especially through the head phones was a break in the middle where it slowed into a descending four/five note section on Manfred’s Synthesiser. You can hear it building in the background to that section and it starts at around the 4.25 mark on the clip. It was just so striking in amongst what is some pretty driving guitar music.

That short section stayed with me all these years, and every so often I like to play the song again, just for that one section of music.

The song itself shows the versatility of Manfred as an arranger. It’s a song he had previously recorded in his early days with the former band in the mid and late 60’s. That song is ‘Driva Man’, a song written by Max Roach (music) and Oscar Brown (lyrics).

This song ‘Driva Man’ is an obscure one of Manfred Mann’s. It doesn’t appear on any of his LP’s and was not released as a single. It was however, on one of his releases as an EP.

For all those new readers who don’t know what an EP was, there were the large LP’s, 12 inches and played at 33 and a third RPM, and the smaller singles played at 45RPM. EP’s were the smaller size records than LP’s, the same size as those 45’s, and also played at the same speed as the Singles, 45RPM, but they usually had 2 songs on each side, the EP standing for Extended Play.

At the same time as bands released a new album, the record Company also released the single that was selected from the album for airplay on radio.

In 1966, Manfred Mann released a new album titled ‘As Is’. On that album, the single selected for release was the Dylan cover ‘Just Like A Woman’ which was a hit for the band, and released around the same time in the UK as the version of the song by The Hollies.

At the same time the album was released, an EP was also released, and on that EP were four songs not on the album, and I suspect they may have been recorded all at the same time, and the selection process for the album songs saw these four left out, so the band released them as an EP. That EP was titled ‘As Was’, probably a subtle reference to the album, and probably even the intent I mentioned above, songs that didn’t make the cut for the album.

The song ‘Driva Man’ was on that EP, and in fact has been uplifted to You Tube, so it can be compared to today’s feature song, ‘Time Is Right’.

Really, it doesn’t even sound similar, but the lyrics from that original have been used in the newer song, only the song has been arranged differently.

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This video was posted to You Tube by karabas52

As a small note of interest, the title of the album that today’s song is from is ‘Nightingales And Bombers’, and in fact that title has some history behind it, that was mentioned at the top of the liner notes on the back of the album.

During World War 2, an Ornithologist (the name given to people involved in the study of birds) was recording the sounds of Nightingales during one particular night. On the same night, a large bombing raid into Germany was also scheduled, and as one Squadron of the RAF Bomber Command was flying overhead, the recording of the birds also picked up the sound of the large bombers flying overhead on their way to join up with other bombers on the raid to Mannheim. That specific night was the 19th May 1942.

The recording of the birds and the planes was included on this album for the song ‘As Above, So Below’.

I have earlier featured two songs from both Manfred Mann, and also the Earth Band, as part of the series on Bob Dylan, and that Post is at the following link. While this features the early version of ‘Mighty Quinn’, and ‘You Angel You’ from ‘Angel Station’, there are also two further links to ‘Blinded By The Light’ from Bert Sugarman’s Midnight Express TV program in 1975 and a wonderful live version of the Earth Band performing ‘Quinn’ at a live concert from 1983 in Budapest.

Sunday Music – Mighty Quinn – The Bob Dylan Series (Part 10)

For some of the information in today’s Post, I have to give thanks to Nigel Stanworth at the Platform End Website.

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