6/9/14 – Ha! Ha! Said The Clown – Manfred Mann – 1967

Video Of The Day

Song Of The Day

Manfred Mann 1967The Manfred Mann story is long and complex with different lead vocalists, different band members and different styles of music as the years went by. But by 1967 with Mike d’Abo as lead singer they were still seemingly effortlessly having hits even after Paul Jones their original and distinctive lead singer had left to go solo.

The band was started by drummer/vibes and piano player Mike Hugg and South African keyboard player Manfred Mann as The Mann-Hugg Blues band and before d’Abo joined they had at least eight hit singles with memorabe Pop classics such as 5-4-3-2-1, Doo Wah Diddy and Pretty Flamingo. Original guitarist Mike Vickers left with bass player Tom McGuiness changing to guitar. Jack Bruce briefly played bass in the band playing on the classic Pretty Flamingo but he was replaced by Klaus Voorman famous for his Beatles associations and for designing artwork, including The Beatles’ Revolver cover in 1966.

After Paul Jones left the band between 1966 and their break up in 1969, they had hits with My Name Is Jack, Semi-Detached Suburban Mr Jones, Fox On The Run and Mighty Quinn amongst others. They managed to cover Dylan songs in their own style and had a mixture of self-penned songs and covers, all with a sound all of their own despite changing lead singers. They had a spell as a Jazz Rock band with  Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three releasing two albums on the Vertigo label in 1969 and 1970.

It’s hard to put your finger on what it was that made them stand out apart from the quality of the material they chose to record, because musically there was no one stand out distinctive instrumentalist in the band (although Mike Hugg definitely had the feel) – they were simply quietly personal and perfect for each song they played on, perhaps they just chose songs wisely. Later Manfred Mann’s playing became noticeable as they evolved into a Progressive Rock band in Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. The miracle of Manfred Mann is that even as a Progressive Rock group they still managed to have a massive hit with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Blinded By The Light reaching No.1 in the USA in 1976 and No.6 in the the UK.

One of the strangest hits they had was Ha! Ha! Said The Clown written by Liverpool born songwriter Tony Hazzard who also wrote their hit Fox On The Run. He also wrote Listen To Me For The Hollies as well as songs for Lulu, The Tremeloes, Gene Pitney, Herman’s Hermits, The Yardbirds, The Casuals, Swinging Blue Jeans, Pre Gentle Giant band Simon Dupree And The Big Sound, Cliff Richard and Andy Williams – quite a list! His songs seem to be quite straight forward catchy pop tunes but Ha! Ha! Said the clown has an odd beat, an odd arrangement and that flute that they also use in My Name Is Jack! It also has a wonderful odd sound into the chorus, a bizarre medieval middle eight with whistling – and then there’s the words! Mike Hugg described the song as “one of the worst five records he ever heard” – I beg to differ.

The video is priceless with Mike d’Abo’s litereal dancing, Tom McGuiness larking about with the guitar nearly hitting Klaus Voorman in the face and then a low key Mike Hugg and Manfred Mann…and then there’s the audience!

Last note Manfred Mann’s real name – Manfred Sepse Lubowitz. Paul Jones real name – Paul Pond.

Ha! Ha! Said the Clown

Feeling low, gotta go, see a show in town
Hear the jokes, have a smoke, and a laugh at the clown
In a whirl, see a girl with a smile in her eyes
Never thought I’d be brought right down by her lies

In a trance, watch her dance to the beat of the drums
Faster now, sweating brow, I’m all the fingers and thumbs
Wonder why I hit the sky when she blows me a kiss
In a while, run a mile, I’m regretting all this

Ha! Ha! Said the clown, has the king lost his crown
Is the night being tight on romance
Ha! Ha! Said the clown, is it bringing you down
That you’ve lost your chance

Time to go, close the show, wave the people goodbye
Grab my coat, grab my hat, look that girl in the eye
Where’s your home, what’s your phone number, stop fooling ’round
Could have died, she replied, “I’m the wife of the clown”

Ha! Ha! Said the clown, has the king lost his crown
Is the night being tight on romance
Ha! Ha! Said the clown, is it bringing you down
That you’ve lost your chance

Ha! Ha! Said the clown, has the king lost his crown
Is the night being tight on romance
Ha! Ha! Said the clown, is it bringing you down








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