The Beatles, of course, were the most famous of the British Invasion bands who took over American radio fifty years ago. The Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Kinks were among the others to gain eternal renown in rock and roll history.
Not as well-known, but perhaps even more influential, was a group that changed names several times and spawned several Top Ten singles. The group started out as the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers before scoring their first hit with “Doo Wah Diddy.”
That classic, which still gets weekly airplay on oldies stations, was recorded under the name of its founder, Manfred Mann. It appeared on the debut album Five Faces of Manfred Mann, which was released in 1964.
The group in the 70s transformed into Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, during which it produced the best music in its history. Here are the best ten songs that highlight the discography of this underrated British Invasion band.
“Circles” from Watch: “I’m a clown without a circus, there’s no one to see my act,” pines the singer in this opening track from the band’s best album.
“For You” from Chance: This single is an excellent cover of a song by Brice Springsteen, an artist the group frequently turned to for instant classics.
“The Mighty Quinn” from Mighty Garvey!: Even more than to the Boss, Mann and his band visited the songs of Bob Dylan to cover in their unique style of rock.
“Martha’s Madman” from Watch: This tune, about a psycho with “a long, curved Turkish dagger with a bejeweled handle,” is another of the many gems on this underrated set.
“Blinded by the Light” from The Roaring Silence: Undoubtedly the group’s biggest hit, this Springsteen composition is rife with rhyming, surreal imagery.
“Chicago Institute” from Watch: Following the song about the visitor in Martha’s closet, this title place could be where the psycho ended up.
“Hello, I Am Your Heart” from Chance: This creative love song ranks only behind “For You” as the top tune from the 1980 album.
“This Side of Paradise” from The Roaring Silence: The group recalls a novel by The Great Gatsby author on this highlight from the album with a big ear on its cover.
“Mrs. Henry” from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band: Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes was the source for this hit from the album that signaled a change in direction for Mann and his group.
“California” from Watch: Many songs have been written about the Golden State, but none of them are as beautiful as this one that closes side one.