Thursday, 9 October 2014

Manfred Mann - Cubist Town (1968) A Story of a Lost Psych Pop Masterpiece

For this very special blog entry I'll be passing you over to my buddy and fellow bandmate, Joe Wiltshire who has unearthed a bonafide UK psychedelic lost classic album and would like to tell you the story of it's creation to it's eventual abandonment.

It's June 1966 and Manfred Mann drummer, Mike Hugg turns up at I.B.S studios during sessions for Manfred Mann's latest long player, "As Is". Another collection of singles, b-sides and fillers with inclusions provided for them from outside sources, a reoccurring concept that Mike Hugg was beginning to grow out of. 

Fast becoming the bands chief songwriter, Hugg was feeling inspired and was in no mood to record "just another LP". Under his arm on this day was the latest Beach Boys effort, Pet Sounds and that record was the new direction that he wanted to angle the Manfred's in now. 

(Tom McGuinness, Klaus Voorman, Manfred Mann, Mike D'Abo & Mike Hugg)

The band bought into his vision but, on this occasion Hugg didn't get his way. The group had almost wrapped up the recording of "As Is" and collectively had to concede that this time around they had missed the boat.The band left with a plan. They would all go away, absorb Pet Sounds and write their very best songs for the next Mann album.Mike D'Abo came back with "No Better, No Worse" while Hugg himself feeling particularly creative penned the bulk of the stronger compositions, "Harry The One Man Band","It's So Easy Falling" and "Too Many People". Lead guitarist Tom McGuinness returned with the psychedelic oddity "There is a Man" and "Cubist Town" a song which Hugg felt fit the new concept and mood so well that he suggested they name the album after it and work to that title.

"Cubist Town" was shaping up nicely and the band began recording at I.B.S studios in early 1967. The band arranged the songs in track order and merged and mixed parts together which they felt would fit right. Utilising similar techniques to Brian Wilson on Pet Sounds. Combining sounds, using new instruments including the harpsichord and Mellotron as well as adding plenty of vocal harmonies to their sound, filling any space they could with their new ideas. 

During the sessions, manager Gerry Bron received a call from budding film director Peter Collinson, who wanted to meet the band to discuss the possibility of writing material for the soundtrack to a new movie he was making called "Up The Junction". Mann and Hugg met with the director but although tempted and flattered by the proposition, couldn't tear themselves away from their latest project. It took some convincing from Gerry Bron but the band eventually agreed to go ahead with the soundtrack. Bron also managed to talk the band into submitting some of the songs intended for Cubist Town. So reluctantly, "Sing Songs of Love", "Just for Me" and "Floating in a Dream" soon to be renamed "Up the Junction" were all put forward.

Momentum was being lost for the album that Hugg was so desperate to make. He then heard that The Zombies were following a similar path with their new project Odessey & Oracle. Hugg was gutted to hear this, but again was further inspired and determined to complete "Cubist Town". With pressure from their label and manager to release something new, the results were never going to be as intended and the band ended up releasing the LP "Mighty Garvey". The new release included some of the songs intended for Cubist, but also, again included novelty songs and fillers like "Big Betty", "Ha! Ha! Said the Clown", (a cut written by Tony Hazzard and released as a single the previous year) and D'Abo's "Happy Families".  

So "Cubist Town" was never released and instead the band were left with a back catalogue of semi-strong, patchy long players. The original "Cubist Town" has now been realised and put together with the early mixes in the intended order, the way the band wanted you to hear it in 1968.

Another story of a lost album that 'would' fascinate me, if only it were true! A bit of a sad hobby of mine. Making albums that 'could' have been. Photoshop-ing new cover art for me iTunes and coming up with a short, make believe back story, just to make the lads in the Junipers laugh. When I told Pete I'd made Manfred Mann's very own, lost Odessey & Oracle, he asked if I'd include the album and a back story for his Bite it Deep blog. I tried to steer away from the obvious favourites and main singles because it wouldn't be as interesting to make or listen to. That's a separate job for a "Best Of". You never know, the story may not be too far from what actually happened. Either way, it's nice to imagine it did while listening to "Cubist Town".

Joe Wiltshire - October 2014

Very good Joe. You had me going for a moment there!!

Now, listen to Cubist Town for the first time in it's entirety. Enjoy...

01 No Better, No Worse
02 It's So Easy Falling
03 Cubist Town
04 Harry the One Man Band
05 Up the Junction
06 Everyday Another Hair Turns Grey
07 Funniest Gig
08 Budgie
09 Too Many People
10 There is a Man
11 Just For Me


  1. Bummer, after reading the story and totally psyched to listen, I click and get this from Mixcloud: "Sorry, this upload is unavailable in your country due to licensing restrictions" So no go for us Yanks :(

    1. Here you go...

    2. Peter,

      Thanks for posting. BUT -- yesterday it worked; today, it doesn't. Please re-post. This album is wonderful. (And so are The Carousels, by the way.)
      Cheers from Philly,

  2. Great stuff! I've added 'Sleepy Hollow', an old favourite found on the flipside of 'Up the Junction'. I actually never heard some of it, brilliant...Well, I never got round to hear 'Mighty Garvey' for example but I quite enjoyed 'As Is' when I got it years ago...really cool this 'Cubist Town', love it! THANKS

  3. well done ,i liked mm as much as anyone from 66-69 and this could indeed be a missing odyssey type masterpiece

  4. did your friend who complied this make any other fictional 60s albums? this one works very well :)