Now, my dad was a plane-spotter – like a train-spotter, but with a slightly smaller anorak. He had dozens of books containing thousands of aircraft makes, types and registration numbers, and when he visited an airport and spotted a previously un-spotted plane, he’d underline it with his red BIC® in one of his books. I think he’s seen them all now. I went with him a few times, but I think I enjoyed the cycle ride to Hurn Airport more than the aircraft.
Anyway, I say this as in 1976 and 1977, with the help of my dad I became a song-spotter. Listening to the Top 40 singles chart was a must, but for a year or more just as, if not more important, was listening to (as nauseating as this is to write) Jimmy Savile on Radio 1. His Old Record Club featured Top Tens from the late 1950s onwards, and with the book of Hit Singles at the ready, when we heard a song, we’d find it, underline it, and put a ‘listened to’ date for reference. Unbelievably nerdy. They were hugely enjoyable weekly lessons in the history of pop music.
Unavoidably at such a young age, my dad’s personal taste was an influence, and the quintessential ‘60s pop nuggets from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band were a clear favourite of his, and subsequently mine. As an eager ten-year-old Ha Ha Said The Clown, Fox On The Run, Do Wah Diddy Diddy and My Name Is Jack sounded like melodic heaven, and amongst those in a flurry of chart hits was the Mighty Quinn. This was over forty years ago, and my dad, bless him, has retained his love of a radio sing-a-long, given the right song.
A few years later I purchased Semi Detached Suburban – a gem of a compilation – still loving the Manfreds, and hopefully at some point realising that my pick of the bunch was in fact penned by Bob Dylan, less than one year prior to this release. I was a very happy and contented soul in 1976, and those distant memories of Manfred Mann fill me with joy. The photo above of Mr Manfred Mann could be a photo of my dad when he helped to make me. What a dude.